Thursday, January 31, 2013

It was an event that lasted 10 seconds

It was an event that lasted 10 seconds. In 10 seconds, I shattered my spine, tore every muscle in my back, bruised my legs so badly they were as dark as night and had doctors baffled. Why wasn’t I paralyzed? Why wasn’t I crying? How did I survive this fall from a cliff? I look back on the past year, the losses and bills piled up and I wondered, “What did I do to deserve this?” When the world finally stopped spinning around me, I started to have Hope. This story really starts when I was just a wide-eyed freshman looking to fit in. Delta Gamma took me in and took me on the journey of sisterhood:

When people think of a sorority girl, the stereotype is a beautiful woman with perfectly straight teeth, perfect hair and the perfect personality. Let’s be honest; that’s not me and that’s not women. We have bad hair days-I’m having one right now. We get lettuce stuck in our teeth; hmmm, maybe I should go brush. And we tell jokes that aren’t always funny. We run around our high school in a bunny costume, for no reason, wait, ok, maybe that was just me.

When I heard of the sororities at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, I thought it would be a great way to start over and reinvent myself into the cooler, hipper version of myself that I’d never really been able to pull off.

During recruitment, the glitz, glamor, and girls with perfect teeth talking to me made me feel special. I felt like I was finally someone worth noticing. Everything changed when I walked into the Delta Gamma room.

Kristen Iqal
Delta Gamma was different than any other room I went into. When the women were singing their door song about their “sidekick Hannah,” I was like, “I don’t know who this Hannah girl is but she must be pretty awesome for them to chant about her.” I sat down with a girl named Kirstin, who is now my big sister. I was intimidated; she is gorgeous and I felt awkward. But we started laughing, talking and cried during preference ceremony. I thought if these girls are all like her, I could get the hang of this sidekick Hannah deal.

Delta Gamma didn’t care what type of designer bag I carried, that I like cats way too much, and that I tell horrible jokes. Delta Gamma cared about the woman I am aspiring to be, the leadership skills I wish to gain from college, and best of all, how I could make Delta Gamma grow. I knew from the first day; I wanted Delta Gamma and nothing else.

Since the day I received my pink and blue bid, my life has been filled with so many inside jokes, late-night study sessions, and shoulders I’ve rested my head on during sisterhood movie nights. I didn’t lose myself by joining Delta Gamma. I grew into the woman I am today and my sisters have accepted me for me.

I never realized how important that would be. My sisterhood was put to the test on May 21, 2011, a terrifying day in my life. That is the day I broke my back in a cliff diving accident. The doctors still can’t believe I’m alive today. My sisters have been my strength though all of this.

Through all of the physical pain, mental struggle and emotional pressure, there is always a Delta Gamma to pick me up when my knees hit the ground. Doctors said it would be nearly a year before I could learn to walk again. My sisters, ever hopeful, wouldn’t take no for an answer and pushed me through my physical therapy. In just two months, I was out of my brace, off my walker and taking steps on my own.

These women are my guardian angels on speed dial. Just as I thought I was going to be ok, my father was in an accident of his own. He was broken from head to toe and in a coma. My father is awake now, but is paralyzed. While my father fought for his life in a coma, my grandfather lost his. I had to tell my father this when he woke up.

The combination of my injury, my father’s accident and my grandfather’s death left me with a lot of bills to pay. I work 65 hours a week at two jobs to help support my family, attend class and work through my own physical limitations. I want to scream when I get out of bed at the sharp pains that shoot through my back.

But through it all, Delta Gamma has been there. My sisters were the first to reach out, the first to help me heal and I know they’ll be there forever.

I’ve only had 20 years on this planet, but I feel like I’ve lived a lot. The best part of this life has been finding Delta Gamma.

Delta Gammas know the warmth and generosity of this Fraternity. I know I am not the only one who would not have made it through the hardship and pain if a golden anchor wasn’t proudly pinned on my chest. Delta Gamma is a rock for thousands of my sisters, and I am proud I have found my home.

Kristen Iqal, Zeta Xi-Alabama, Birmingham, is a senior majoring in healthcare management. She hopes to pursue a career in hospital and health administration. Her younger sister is also a member of the same chapter. You can reach Kristen at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Annie: Anchored in Hope, Strength and Life

Annie with her brother Steve

DG Alumna Doesn’t Let Cancer Dampen her
Vibrant Spirit

I wanted to take the opportunity to share the amazing accomplishments of Epsilon Epsilon alumna Annie Goodman. Annie, a 2004 Tennessee Technological University graduate, was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the young age of 30. She currently lives in New York City and is a producer for “Your World with Neil Cavuto” at Fox News Channel.

Since her diagnosis in February 2012, she started a blog on Tumblr ( to share her story and experience with others.

Here’s an except from her first blog entry: “The pathologist is in the room looking at the slides of the sample as soon as they’re ready. She then says they need to do more invasive biopsies because the first ones are suspicious. I again ask, “for what, malignancy?” She bluntly responds, “Yes.” This is when it starts to hit me what’s going on. I’m 30 years old and about to be diagnosed with breast cancer. They ask if I am there alone. I say yes and then call my brother to come up. I know I cannot be alone when I am given this diagnosis. More biopsies are done and I could see on the looks of their faces this is not at all how I thought things would go. I get dressed, cry a lot, and head into the radiologist’s office. That’s when it’s confirmed: I am 30 years old and have breast cancer. I made an appointment to meet with the surgeon first thing the next morning. I am warned I will need surgery and chemotherapy. Then I start making the calls and sending the emails. I try to remain calm. It’s not easy.”

Fellow Epsilon Epsilon alumnae Crystal Bishop Piper and Jackie Parnell Crouch set up a account titled “Do Good for Annie Goodman” dedicated to Annie which provided a way for her fellow Delta Gamma sisters to “Do Good” in her honor and provide financial support to her throughout her battle. “Do Good for Annie Goodman” ( helped raise $4,570.00 that went directly to Annie to help pay for medical costs as well as purchase wigs and other necessities.
Since February, Annie has received a bilateral mastectomy (she donated the tissue to research), completed chemotherapy and has now started radiation. She has been dedicated to raising awareness of Triple Negative Breast Cancer through her blog, and became involved with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. During the month of October, Annie was in the survivor spotlight on the “Stupid Cancer Show” blogcast ( and has published two articles on “In the fight of her life: Triple negative breast cancer at 30” (, and “A simple blood test: Genetic mutations and breast cancer” (
The Pink Beauties
Annie is now cancer free and in remission. Feeling like a “work in progress,” she is looking forward to March when she can say she is one-year “cancer free,” but she says “the transition to real life as a ‘survivor’ is not easy.” In addition to battling an aggressive cancer, Annie was recently impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Her hometown of Massapequa, NY, was leveled. Thankfully, the NYC Cancer Center was spared of any damage so she only missed one week of radiation. Annie stayed in NYC during Hurricane Sandy to work, which included covering the hurricane and the presidential election. I cannot express in words how proud I am of Annie’s bravery and willingness to share her story with others. She has taken a horrible situation and found a way to “Do Good.” Annie is not only an inspiration; she is the embodiment of true Delta Gamma spirit: full of hope, full of strength, and full of life!

Crystal Bishop Piper, Epsilon Epsilon-Tennessee Tech, graduated in 2003. She recently got married and lives with her husband Jared in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Crystal works for the city of Franklin, Tennessee as a biologist. You can reach Crystal at: For more information on triple negative breast cancer:

Pictured top right: Annie and her brother Steve Goodman at the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Benefit.
Pictured below: The “Pink Beauties” participate in the Susan G. Komen Nashville Race for the Cure in Honor of Annie. L-R: Jackie Parnell Crouch (Epsilon Epsilon), Samantha Brazelton, Bethann Kelley, Crystal Bishop Piper (Epsilon Epsilon), and Stephanie Vaughn Clark (Epsilon Epsilon).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mrs. Steely

Mr. and Mrs. Steely
By Kimberly Cindle Rieger,
Alpha Iota-Oklahoma

Have you ever known someone you respect so much you’ve never used their first name? For me and countless other women from Alpha Iota-Oklahoma, that person is Kathryn Copple Steely. It feels strange, even now at 41 years old and serving as chapter adviser, using her full name. We always knew her first name was Kathryn, but we never used it. To us, she was always “Mrs. Steely.”

Mrs. Steely was a member of Alpha Iota-Oklahoma house corporation board during my collegiate years and in the year prior, spearheaded a massive bond campaign to fund a multi-million dollar renovation of the chapter house. Alumnae from that time have often said, “Mrs. Steely convinced every Delta Gamma she knew to purchase a bond.” Her leadership during the renovation and support of the chapter through difficult times in the mid 1990’s were instrumental to Alpha Iota’s future success. Mrs. Steely was vital not only to Alpha Iota’s operations, but also as a role model. Through her actions, Mrs. Steely showed us how to be gracious, how to fulfill a promise of lifelong service to the Fraternity – how to “Do Good.”  

Kathryn Copple Steely, AI-Oklahoma
I wish Mrs. Steely could see Alpha Iota now – a house still beautiful 24 years after the renovation, one of the largest chapters in the country, full of young women she would have been thoroughly enjoyed. Today’s collegians would love her as much as we did, and without a doubt, they would call her “Mrs. Steely.”
Kathryn Copple Steely, Alpha Iota-Oklahoma, died on Dec. 31, 2012, after an extended struggle with dementia. She is survived by three children, including Ann Steely McGehee, Alpha Iota-Oklahoma. Kathryn was a Cable Award recipient and devoted volunteer.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Battling Bulimia – One Step at a Time

Collegiate Member Mollie Opens up about her Battle with an Eating Disorder

My name is Mollie and I am 21 years old. Since I was 14, I have been battling bulimia. Today, I can proudly say that I have been eating disorder free for six months. It sounds like a short time, but when you’ve been battling this demon as long as I have, six months is an eternity. It took me almost eight years to get to where I am today, but not without the love and support of my parents, friends and Delta Gamma sisters.

ED is the name many people use to call the evil, horrible, manipulative disease that takes over our lives, controlled my body, my thoughts and my health for almost eight years. Yet, no one knew. It was a secret disease that was slowly killing me. Each time I didn't ask for help and continued to suffer alone, my disorder won and got stronger.

It got worse when I left for college in New York. It was then that I knew that I had to ask for help, or I wouldn’t survive this disease. I spoke up and did the hardest thing I’ve ever done; I admitted there was a problem and got help to get better. But the story doesn’t end here.
I left New York and transferred to University of Denver in Colorado. I fell in love with the campus, the city and the people. As an only child, growing up with two busy, hard working parents in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time alone. I hoped that by joining a sorority I would find more friends, but what I found in Delta Gamma was more than I could have imagined. Delta Gamma was the first time I felt like I had the true meaning of family. But again, I let the bulimia take away the good in my life. I pushed good people away and ultimately had to leave school before the end of my sophomore year.

I felt defeated, but this time it was different. I had more to fight for than just myself. I had a sisterhood that was stronger than an eating disorder. I had always been afraid to tell my story, but if I have learned anything during my battle, it is that the people who care about you will care no matter what battle scars you bare.

I returned to school that January and continue to be active in Delta Gamma. I bring with me a sense of belonging and love that I never knew could be for me. I want to share my story and help other sisters who struggle and are afraid to speak up. My experience in Delta Gamma is so much more than the cliché views of parties and formals.This is a group of women who stood by my side and helped me fight a disease that I thought might one day kill me. My sisters, though in Denver, kept in touch, always asking when I would be back and that they were proud of what I was doing.

Every day I take another step forward in my recovery. I look forward to no longer associating myself as the girl with an eating disorder, but as the girl who is an art history major, loves kittens, wants to move to Paris and is a Delta Gamma.
Mollie Braen is a junior member of Beta Chi-Denver. She is majoring in art history and after graduation hopes to move to Paris and continue to study art. You can reach her at

The A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia defines bulimia: “Bulimia is an illness in which a person binges on food or has regular episodes of overeating and feels a loss of control. The person then uses different methods - such as vomiting or abusing laxatives - to prevent weight gain.”
If you or someone you know is battling bulimia here are some resources to that could help:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Doing Good, After the Storm

One DG was an Anchor in the Storm Following Hurricane Sandy

Chelsea Davis in front of her team's ambulance.
I left Las Vegas on October 28 with nine of my colleagues from American Medical Response to assist with the disaster clean-up on the east coast after Hurricane Sandy. We arrived at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, our home-away-from-home, which is actually nothing more than a tarmac; the perfect place for staging more than 300 ambulances. Over the next several weeks, I assisted in the evacuation of NYU and Bellevue hospitals, evacuated countless nursing homes and provided supplemental support for overloaded 911 systems. I found myself walking down the hallways in apartment buildings, alongside NYPD, knocking on doors to offer food, water, blankets and medical care to those who had been living without electricity and water. The smell of rotting food, urine, feces and trash was almost unbearable at times. My team and I drove the streets in awe of the destruction. Cars full of dirt and water, turned sideways and crushed by fallen trees, left many streets inaccessible. When piles of debris began appearing on the sidewalks, I tried to ignore the sullen looks of despair as people emptied their soggy possessions out of their homes and onto the streets for the garbage men.
Some nights I was able to return to Floyd Bennett Field where I would share the facilities brought in by FEMA - eight showers, 24 restrooms, and 14 15-man tents for more than 600 people. Most of us elected to sleep in our ambulances; already sitting in your seat made it easier to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to head out to a shelter!  Sometimes we would be away from Floyd Bennett for days at a time, so we made do with baby wipe “showers” and MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat); I can now officially advise everyone to stay away from the Spaghetti and Meatballs! Occasionally we would luck out and be tasked to a fire house, church, shelter, school or nursing home where we would be allowed to use their hot showers, laundry facilities and enjoy hot meals.
Through it all, I felt like all the work we did wasn’t quite enough; that the desire to “Do Good” and the ability to “Do Good” seem so far from the same. I am truly blessed that I've been called to a profession that allows me to lend my skills in time of need, and this experience has been life changing for me. I have learned many things that I would like to share with you: As bad as you think your life may be, there is always someone who is going through something worse. Appreciate all you have; you never know when you will have to move all you took for granted to the sidewalk for the garbage man to pick up. Above all, always remember that no matter how difficult things may seem, you always have the ability to “Do Good.” A hug, an email, a thank-you or words of encouragement are all you need to make a difference.

Chelsea Davis, Eta Iota-Neveda, Reno, grew up in Reno, Nevada, and graduated college in 2007. She attended paramedic school and graduated in 2009 and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where she lives now. On average she responds to more than 1,400 911 calls a year.You can reach Chelsea at