Transferring to the University of Florida during my sophomore year, I thought I knew it all. Spending an extra year at home studying at the University of North Florida, I could not wait to get to Gainesville and thrive on my own, attend football games, and especially, immerse myself in sorority life.
To me, this meant connecting with my member class, finding my one true best friend, and owning as much merch as humanly possible. While my third assumption came true, it did not take long for Zeta Tau Alpha and UF Panhellenic to prove just how exceptional they were. Within my chapter, I made some of my first connections with seniors and future new members through recruitment. In this, I learned that sometimes the best friends emerge from the least likely places. Continuing through my experience with great admiration for those older than me and uncontrollable love for those younger than me, I found role models, a little, and friends of all ages and interests.
The dynamic sisterhood taught to me by my chapter inspired me to make friends across our community. Whether in class, another involvement experience, or even, in my case, with random roommates, I quickly formed long-lasting relationships with girls from countless other chapters. These women taught me that different experiences often provided the most enriching connections.
Learning about their UF, Panhellenic, and the different chapter experiences demonstrated how strong our community is and only solidified my belief in our community when I served alongside other influential leaders during my chapter presidency. Working with other Presidents, Panhellenic Executives, and Panhellenic Advisors taught me that what may seem like a broad, common interest can transform into shared passionate power in the right hands.
Connecting on our responsibilities, interests, and day-to-day lives as Panhellenic women allowed us to inspire and learn from one another in our roles and outside of them. Each relationship I formed and valued through the past three years taught me the value of celebrating others' success, asking for help, and coming together as a community of strong, driven women. Sisterhood means something different to each of us, and my journey from joining it to contributing to it has been one of the most enriching parts of my college life.
So, whether you are anxious to join the same chapter as your hometown best friend, get the big of your dreams, or meet fellow leaders in an Executive role, take it from me that what you expect is only the beginning of what you will receive from a community as vibrant, capable, and loving as ours.
With love and best wishes,
Zeta Tau Alpha Sister Grace Schneider