A Sisterhood of Leadership

In Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

College. It’s something that you think about a lot growing up. What will it be like? Where will I go? How will I be involved? People tell you it’s where you’ll meet lifelong friends and make memories you’ll tell your kids about. And, hopefully, you’ll get a great education! Possibly every day of your college experience was exactly as you envisioned. Maybe it was nothing like you expected. Or maybe, if you’re like me, it’s a little bit of both. Sororities
seemed fun when I saw pictures on web sites, but envisioning my college experience, I didn’t see myself in a sorority. I pictured myself going off to swim competitively and forging an incredible comeback story – the girl who was diagnosed with Paradoxical Vocal Chord Dysfunction and went on to be a collegiate swimmer. Fortunately, the Lord had a very different plan — one that included meeting some of the most selfless, incredible women I’ve
ever known, dedicated women that build confidence in others and inspire them to action. These are ladies I would have never met if I had not decided in the final months of my senior year in High School to attend Louisiana Tech (Ruston is my home) and go through sorority recruitment.When I received a bid from Kappa Delta, I had no clue that the adventure ahead was one full of laughter, personal growth, leadership opportunities, and inspirational women. At the time, I was unaware that I had joined an organization with a vast network of influential female leaders such as current Miss America Cara Mund; Louisiana’s first and only female governor Kathleen Blanco; and renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe. I certainly was unaware that I was joining one of the top Kappa Delta chapters in the nation, a chapter with an alumnae base of influential leaders on a campus with great female role models including multiple campus deans, department heads and current Provost Terry McConathy.

You see, I joined an incredibly special Kappa Delta chapter… the Alpha Chi Chapter… the only chapter in the sorority’s history to be named its most outstanding chapter three times. The first few weeks in a sorority are a frenzy of information, meeting new faces and making new friends. For me, one these friendships began over a love of Gilmore Girls with Lizzie Hummel, who now serves as the chapter president and who has been a big part of my life. The initial weeks in Kappa Delta are busy and exciting as girls are guided through the New Member Program to gain important knowledge about this lifetime membership in the sorority they’re joining. During this period, girls first learn about a National Kappa Delta award: The Corre Anding Stegall Leadership Award, Kappa Delta’s highest individual collegiate honor, presented annually to those who have distinguished themselves in chapter, campus, and community leadership. Each year, Kappa Delta’s 166 collegiate chapters nationwide have active memberships of approximately 24,000 members. Each chapter is allowed to nominate their most highly achieving members for the award, and selection is done by a large national committee composed of outstanding professional women leaders.

While she is not involved in the selection of recipients, the award was named for former National President Corre Anding Stegall. In her humility, she fails to recognize herself as one of the greatest role models for young women across the nation. Tech’s first female vice president, she is a member of Kappa Delta’s prestigious Hall of Honor. And she still is active in advising and mentoring collegians through KD and panhellenic. As a new member, understanding the value KD placed on leadership motivated me to get involved, but I never imagined joining the ranks of women who receive such an honor, along with three other women whom I consider dear friends. These women are servant leaders with enormous hearts. They face adversity graciously, and would never acknowledge their influence and enormous contributions.

In 2017, Annie Carlisle of Shreveport and Sarah Head of St. Joseph, Louisiana, were two of the nation’s 23 award winners and brought Leadership Awards back to Ruston for the first time since 2014. Annie served as the chapter’s president while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average majoring in Pre-Professional Speech Pathology. Actively involved on campus and in the community, Annie Carlisle is one of the kindest people I know, always making time for others. When asked about her time in Kappa Delta, she said: “Throughout my time in KD, I have seen women, including myself, be empowered to lead within our chapter and on our campus. Because of the
wisdom from alumnae mentors and the gement received from Kappa Delta sisters, I could go forward as a confident leader knowing that I had a team of people in my corner cheering for me and supporting me along the way.” Sarah Head is driven and spirited. She served as the chapter Vice President of Operations as a marketing major with a 4.0 GPA. Among her many campus activities was serving as an Orientation Student Leader, a Student Recruiter, and a College of Business ambassador. On the confidence that KD gave Sarah to lead, she says: “Women’s leadership is all about believing in yourself and your abilities and then inspiring that same confidence in others. During my time as a Kappa Delta at Louisiana Tech, I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by strong, captivating women leaders who have shared their confidence with me and encouraged me to grow into the leader I am today.”

This year Lizzie Hummel of Mandeville and I were able to repeat Annie’s and Sarah’s feat when we were presented with the leadership award as two of the 17 recipients for 2018. A junior, Lizzie serves as KD’s current president. As a first-generation college student, she leads a chapter of more than 200 women while maintaining a 3.6 GPA in Biomedical Engineering. She is a student worker in the university president’s office, volunteer in Tech’s sports medicine program, a member of Order of Omega and recently served as director of student affairs for the Student Government Association. Lizzie says: “In Kappa Delta, there is a focus for each girl to grow and flourish during her time as a collegiate member, which is why every member has a position in our chapter. As a new member, I held the office of Girl Scout chair, which led to my desire to be the VP of community service and eventually president. Being surrounded by girls that push me to be a better person and servant leader, I have grown into the person I am today. Kappa Delta and the Tech community challenge me every day to be the best version of myself, and I am forever grateful to be a part of such a supportive community.”

And then there’s me, Madison Kaufman, junior Communications major with a 3.9 GPA. I serve as the Vice President of Public Relations. I was previously the Vice President of Member Education and a Shamrock Project assistant. I am a student worker in the College of Education and a member of numerous campus organizations, including Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Order of Omega, ESPN Street Crew, and formerly served on the executive council for Bulldog Belles & Beaux. I also serve on the college leadership team at the Bridge Community Church. When I stepped out for a leadership role in Kappa Delta, my sisters in KD recognized leadership potential I had not seen in myself. Being part of community of women that celebrates individual skills and unique stories pushed me to lead confidently and encouraged me into other leadership roles. From alumnae who are conquering the world to the sisters who have led before me, I am surrounded by women that inspire me to strive for greatness, and that has made all the difference. We’re evidence of what Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Our sorority focuses on building leaders, generation after generation. Building Confidence. Inspiring Action. Kappa Delta’s tagline. We’re the products of that tradition, and we embrace our responsibility to continue it.