Lessons Learned in 2011

1. Everyone suffers some kind of pain or hurt. Saying this semester was rough is putting it lightly; however, I know I wasn't going through a killer semester alone. I believe my whole group of friends would agree with me in saying that even though we went to hell-and-back this semester, we came away from it stronger because we had each other. And when I had nothing else to cling to, I knew I had the best (sorority) sisters anyone could ask for. Here's to Alpha Phi's Sophomore Class!

2. Don't take anything for granted. After seeing the devastation in Tuscaloosa, I really gained a whole new perspective on life. It's going to be years before Alabama recovers from the natural disaster. Sometimes I think we all forget that we should be grateful for simply having a roof over our heads. Seeing the things I have seen this year in Alabama and in LA has really brought me back down to earth and to remember that everything one has can be taken in an instant.

3. TTP: Trust the Process. This is a phrase that has been said on repeat to me throughout the past year. I first heard it at UIFI, and then again at Alpha Phi's ELI, and then AGAIN during my Service Immersion Trip to Tuscaloosa. I've learned to take a step back and just let go. Sometimes things don't always go as planned, if there even is a plan. Trusting the process is all about learning to trust others and trusting that, even though it may not look like it at any given point, that things will turn out right and the way they need to be. It's about not being in control and stepping outside of your comfort zone. To trust the process is to stop questioning everything and to have faith in yourself and others.

4. I learn so much more about myself, others and skills that I can actually apply in the "real world" through my activities outside of the classroom. Seriously, through my leadership positions on the Habitat For Humanity and Alpha Lambda Delta Exec Boards and through my position in Alpha Phi, I have learned valuable skills that will actually be applicable to my future. These skills such as event planning, managing a budget, conversation skills, communication etiquette, leading others, and so many others will be the skills that will help me land a job, not the facts about the Civil War or how to do some ridiculous mathematical equation. If I could, I would totally double major in extracurricular activities and leadership. Hah.

4. Boys are still stupid. Enough said.

So here's to a new year, a better semester, and good memories.

With Love,


"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for someone else" -Ben Franklin

On April 27th, the community of Tuscaloosa, Alabama was changed forever. An EF-4 tornado more than a mile wide ripped through the center of their town taking out over 5,000 homes and buildings, leaving over 7,000 people unemployed, and put 1,500 people in the hospital. In a matter of 6 minutes, 6 miles of Tuscaloosa were destroyed. 

I arrived in Tuscaloosa on December 17th with a team of 22 Greek students from all over the country and our two leaders from the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values for a week of service. While in Tuscaloosa, we were immersed in the culture of the city and served in many different ways. From cleaning up debris and cutting down trees with the Tuscaloosa Area Volunteer Reception Center to filing paperwork and folding clothes for the Temporary Emergency Services, we were able to see just how much help the area still needed.

Community service was instilled as one of my core values at an early age. My family didn't have much but we had what we needed and we made the most of what we had; however, around the holiday season, we always found the money and time to participate in Christmas Angel programs where we would buy gifts for families who couldn't afford them. As a middle schooler, I dedicated my Wednesday nights to the AWANA program at my church and lead a table of 10 carefree and fun-loving toddlers in memorizing their Bible verses, handing out snacks, and other activities. In high school I volunteered for the Canal Fulton Historical Society, helping them to clean the historic houses and museums and volunteered within the city wherever help was needed. Now in college, I give much of my time to volunteering and advocating for Habitat For Humanity.

I do not volunteer because I feel the need to prove I'm a good person or need the recognition; I serve because it allows for the burden of another human being to be lifted from their shoulders, it gives that person hope that there is good in this world and they're not alone. 

After a very rough semester, this trip was so refreshing. It reignited my hope in people, my love of forming relationships, and my passion for serving others. It reminded me that I am passionate; I am happy; and I am a leader. I am reminded to never take anything for granted. I am so thankful that I was able to serve the Tuscaloosa area as it was an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have been able to help.

After this week in Tuscaloosa, I believe this will be my most thankful and blessed Christmas yet. 

With Love,

The sight of the inside of this apartment brought tears to my eyes. A little girl's drawings and colored pictures were left taped to the wall with everything in ruins. This really gave me a reality check.

"There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we receive and the larger kind for what we give." 
- Edward Arlington Robinson -