I came to UF quite blindly. Nobody from home came here with me, I knew little to nothing about the formal recruitment process, and the question of what career I wanted to pursue stressed me out. However, I did know that I was (and still am) passionate about mental health and that no matter what I wanted to help people. When I walked into the doors of Kappa Kappa Gamma on round two of recruitment, the philanthropy round, I knew I found my home.
I have lost loved ones to not only suicide, but substance misuse as well. In September of 2017, I lost my 21-year-old brother, Rider. Losing someone so close to me was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, and I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD my sophomore year of high school. I am happy to say I am better now, and my mental health journey is something I take pride in and love to discuss. However, seeing the people in my life struggle after his death was heartbreaking. A few months after Rider passed away, his lifelong best friend took his own life- he was bright, kind, and full of laughter. I wish there wasn’t such a stigma around mental health- maybe he would have reached out to us. Many people suffering with these issues walk around each day with a smile on their face. These experiences taught me a lot and inspired me to learn more about how to help. I am proud to say Kappa Kappa Gamma’s philanthropic purpose advocates for mental health and well-being, and our chapter supports the Jed Foundation.
The Jed Foundation strengthens mental health in young people by working to prevent substance-misuse, self-harm, and suicide. My love for our philanthropy led me to become Philanthropy Coordinator, and I got to help plan, set up, and work our annual Kappa Kickball event. Seeing so many students come together to form teams and support our cause was incredible. Games of kickball were going all the way from 9am to 3pm, with over 50 teams playing against each other. It was so fulfilling to see so many people having fun while raising money for a cause that I have so much love for.
Talking about mental health should not be negative, it should be normal. Self-harm, substance misuse, and suicide should be talked about. Kappa Kappa Gamma is a place that has made these topics comfortable. Learning more about mental health and the Jed Foundation educated us on the topic, and therefore equipped us to help those around us. My sisters have become my emotional safety net. I feel comfortable talking to them about the loss of my brother, my mental health, small school stressors, and literally anything else. I can always reach out to a sister when I am upset, and I know that they care. I can be vulnerable with the women in my chapter, and I am confident that they feel the same. Our philanthropy isn’t just special because of the organization we support, but because of the ideas we support, how it educates us, and how it connects us as sisters.
Tell your friends you love them. Xoxo
Aybre Morris & Kappa Kappa Gamma