From the moment, I walked in the door during recruitment at Theta, I have been amazed and inspired by the women of the chapter. Learning about how much the women value service, scholarship, and leadership, made me feel right at home. But CASA, Theta’s national philanthropy was what really hooked me.
My youngest two siblings are adopted from the foster care system and looking back on their case now, they would have greatly benefited from a CASA volunteer. If they had an advocate, someone would have been their voice in the courtroom as they were too young and had been through too much trauma to speak up for themselves. Unfortunately, however, there are not nearly enough volunteers to fill the need. In Iowa's Polk County alone, only 5% of the cases that need CASA volunteers have one appointed to their case. Knowing facts like these, I knew I wanted to get more involved, but being a 19 year old and a busy first year college student, I needed a push—one that would come from my Theta sisters who have continually encouraged me to go further and make a greater impact beyond myself. During January of my freshman year, I went through the 30 hours of training and was appointed my first case in June.
Since becoming a CASA, I have been able to advocate for services for children and fight on their behalf, making sure that their voice is not lost in the system like my siblings had been a few years ago. Through this opportunity, I have been able to attend conferences and meetings where I was able to meet the retired CEO of National CASA, speak with judges, and receive training to better advocate for children and CASA as an organization.
With hopes to attend law school with a focus on children’s rights and juvenile law, I would not have been able to see the child welfare system through this angle without Theta. I would not have been able to gain the simultaneously disheartening, valuable, and eye-opening experience, and most of all I would have never been able to make such an impact on a child’s life. Theta’s commitment to philanthropy has pushed me to become an advocate of CASA itself, raising awareness to the necessity of the organization. Many of my sisters have been able to volunteer at the CASA office, and several others have taken the plunge and become advocates themselves, something that I am so proud to say.
As I continue in my collegiate experience, the impact that CASA and Theta have had on my life will extend far beyond the next year. Theta has strengthened so many of my core values, and I plan to continue to advocate for children and the CASA program. If I can spread the word and help recruit one volunteer, then my efforts will be well worth it because each volunteer means one more child in the court system with a superhero giving them back their voice and making sure they are both heard and seen. I am a Theta, and I am for the child.
I have always loved learning. Whether it’s taking an extra history class, figuring out to cook something new, teaching myself how to knit, or exploring a new place, I really enjoy the challenge of the unknown. This passion has only grown deeper since becoming a member of Theta. I remember that I was hesitant but open to the idea of joining Greek life after arriving to campus. I knew that if I were to become a member of a chapter, I wanted to be joining a community where we would support, inspire, and grow alongside one another. One of the reasons I love being a member of Theta is that I am surrounded by women who see each day as an opportunity to learn something new. Intellectual curiosity and personal excellence are not just a catchy phrases that seemed good to put on a website, they mean something much more to us.
It would be a lie to say I don’t miss seeing the women of my chapter at Philanthropy events, Monday Night Dinners, or study sessions in Tube but my distance from those individuals have made me appreciate what Theta, as an organization, stands for. Now when I jet set across New Zealand for an adventure, I am not only excited about the journey and new experiences but am reminded of my connection to other women who have felt this same rush. I thought of my sisters and how they supported my decision to seek adventure and study abroad when I went on a weekend sea kayaking trip to Doubtful Sound. I thought of my sisters when I hiked to Tunnel Beach--how half of them would have loved to hike along with me and the other half happy to chat and see the photos without a first-hand nature experience J And every time I walk past the pansies on my neighbor’s porch, I think of my sisters—how their classes are going, if they got that interview they were waiting for, how their spring break was. So even though being abroad this semester has inevitably changed how I can connect with Theta, I haven’t felt disconnected.