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