Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning to Live after a Father’s Suicide

A woman’s journey from a loss that knocked her down to a sisterhood that picked her up.

On December 12th, 2009, my life changed forever. I was a junior in high school and I was taking my ACT test for the first time. I was pulled out of my test and sent home; that’s when I found out my daddy had committed suicide. I felt like my world was tumbling down and for a moment, it stopped. It’s been nearly three years since I was taken out of that ACT test to the worst news of my life. I miss my dad every day.

He suffered from bipolar disorder, meaning a lot of highs and a lot of lows and it eventually lead to my parent’s divorce. While this disorder took my father from me, it also showed me the depths of a mother’s love and strength.

My mom was my primary caregiver and after my father’s death. Things got harder for her too.  She tried her best and kept our family together. It was not easy but she managed and she is the strongest person I know.  She takes care of me and my two younger brothers; she goes above and beyond to help us and make sure that we have a chance at whatever we want in life. We all miss my dad, but she tries to help in any way she can and that is more than I could ask from her.
I was devastated when I lost my dad. It hurt for a long time, but I eventually found ways to cope. I taught myself about suicide prevention and the warning signs.  I learn new things about suicide prevention and awareness every day. I ordered a pin that I wear on special days like his birthday, death day, suicide awareness week and survivors of suicide day. Having this knowledge and telling people about it helps me honor my dad.  I love to tell happy stories about my dad, like the time he took me to see Rob Thomas in concert or took me on a ride in the Memphis trolley for the first time. These memories help me smile and keep me going.

This experience has made me a much stronger person. It made me realize that I can go through anything and not give up. I wanted to make my daddy proud and I feel like I can say that I have. Even though I suffered a tremendous loss, on November 18th, 2012, I gained an entire sisterhood with Delta Gamma. These women are one-of–a-kind and are always here to help me when I get sad about missing my dad. In fact, one sister, Kaley, understood more than anyone. Her father had passed away too and she understood what I was feeling. It was indescribable to finally find someone who could relate to my struggle.

Tressie Cochran, Delta Zeta- Memphis,  is a sophomore. She is majoring in Human Services and plans to work in the social work field. You can contact Tressie at

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:                
“More than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It is this country's 10th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike these popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon. “

According to the National Institute of Mental Health Bi-Polar Disorder is defined as, “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”

For information on bipolar disorder and suicide prevention click here:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living as a Survivor

Margo Hunt can’t remember a time when she wasn’t a cancer survivor

Cancer has always been a familiar word in my vocabulary. I was only three months old when I was diagnosed. I cannot remember a time when I was not a survivor. I beat liver cancer by the time I was one, but the journey wasn’t over-it was just starting.

The battle with cancer never ends.

For years, survivors deal with side effects of the treatments. 

For me, it meant years of surgery.  I had tubes put in my ears right after I finished chemotherapy at age one. The idea was to prevent infections, but instead it caused my right eardrum to melt. To this day and despite reconstructive surgery, I still have a hole in my ear and significant hearing loss.  I am a 21-year-old woman, who wears a hearing aid. I walk straight thanks to surgeries that placed and then removed growth plates from my knees. A side effect of cancer is uneven growth on each side of your body.  The plates helped me stay even, while one side had time to catch up. It’s not a side effect you often hear of, but it happens and it makes adolescence that much harder.
Delta Omicron chapter members at the 2012 Morehead State University Relay for Life
  Margo is seventh from the left.

When I think about the medical care that I’ve had, the surgeries and challenges I’ve survived, I think of my parents. They are my biggest cheerleaders and standing next to them cheering me on, is my Delta Gamma family.

Now that I’ve beaten the disease, it is my mission to help create a world where my family, Delta Gamma sisters and friends never have to suffer from cancer.  I met Delta Gamma in the fall of 2009; I fell in love and felt at home instantly.  I knew this group of women would not only accept me, but provide me with my home away from home. 

During the past three years, I’ve worked diligently in the fight against cancer. I hosted fundraisers and helped spread awareness.  Delta Gamma provided me with the foundation of support I needed during my philanthropic endeavors.  I received support not only from my chapter, but chapters across the United States.  By sharing my story in the 2010 winter issue of the ANCHORA I was able to connect with fellow cancer survivor and Gamma Mu-Florida State alumna, Diem Brown. Diem was on the MTV Real World/Road Rules challenges while undergoing her treatment.  Her hope and strength made her a huge role model for me as a 16-year-old getting a hearing aid.  Also, this past summer I was offered an internship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the San Francisco, California fundraising office.  Through Twitter I was able to connect with the San Francisco alumnae group.  They were extremely helpful in my search to find temporary housing in the area.  While I did not end up taking the internship, the support I received from that group is something I will cherish forever.   

Right now I’m interning for the American Cancer Society. My main job was to host the 2012 Morehead State University Relay for Life. The event was an immense success, with much credit going to my Delta Omicron-Morehead State sisters.  Delta Gamma had the highest fundraising total and the funniest “on the hour” event which made the Relay extremely rewarding. However, the real reward was the reminder of how much Delta Gamma means to me.  During the “in honor” lap, all of my Delta Omicron sisters walked around me;  some had tears in their eyes and some held my hand and hugged me, but as we walked past the glowing bag with my name on it, we were all thankful.

Margo Hunt, Delta Omicron–Morehead State, is a cancer survivor living in Morehead, Kentucky. She is senior history major. She has future plans to attend law school. You can reach Margo at

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Hepatocellular carcinoma accounts for most liver cancers. This type of cancer occurs more often in men than women. It is usually seen in people age 50 or older.

For more information on Hepatocellular carcinoma:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why Founders Day is celebrated in March

The celebration of Founders Day is one of the most precious traditions of Delta Gamma Fraternity.  Since its inception in 1887, collegiate and alumnae groups have observed this occasion with banquets, luncheons or other appropriate celebrations.  It has been a day for reunions with other members and a time for renewal and rededication to the Fraternity and its ideals.  Traditionally held on or near March 15, the date was chosen by Eta chapter, University of Akron.

It was Abby Soule, former ANCHORA Editor, who first publicized the idea for a celebration when she made a plea in 1887 for a reunion day to be reserved for all Delta Gammas.  Since our founding at Christmas time was not a good time to celebrate, Eta chapter introduced this idea at the 1888 Convention, noting that their chapter was already observing it on March 15, the date of its charter.  The 1888 Convention decreed that all chapters should observe a special day and Founders Day was established.

Founders Day is dignified and inspirational in nature and usually consists of a roll call by chapters and an inspirational talk given by a member or outstanding speaker.  News of the Fraternity and local accomplishments and events, recognition of members for outstanding achievement and service, plus recognition of anniversary members, and activities which serve to renew pride in and devotion to the Fraternity are included in the program.  This year marks our 140th anniversary, reason for a grand celebration!

Marilyn Haas, Alpha Rho-Ohio Wesleyan, is the Fraternity archivist at EO. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband. You can reach Marilyn at

Thursday, March 7, 2013

History is What's Happening Today

At Convention 2012, Fraternity Archivist Marilyn Haas assembled a small exhibit of clothing, jewelry, and other items connected to early Delta Gammas.  I was especially touched when one attendee joyously hugged the display case holding the battered tin lock box our Founders had purchased to hold their club's most important papers.  That humble artifact gave her a direct connection to Anna, Eva, and Mary.
The tin lock box is currently on display in the archives at EO.

Similarly, items owned by or stories about significant sisters like Ruth Billow (who started us on the road to Service for Sight), actresses Eva Marie Saint or Sabrina Bryan, or Congresswomen Mary Landrieu and Kelly Ayottet make our Fraternity's history real.  But history isn't just what happened in 1873 and it's not just famous people.

If you stumbled on your mom's diary, would you read it?  Of course you would!  The musings about the people she met, the parties she attended, even the chores she did and the weather she observed, would be fascinating -- a glimpse into life "back then."

Most issues of the ANCHORA from 1884 to 1939 are now available on Google Books, with more to come.  These magazines are filled with letters between chapters discussing football outings, rush parties, social events, and even weddings and funerals of sisters.  They make for captivating reading.  Yet there's very little chance that these correspondents, or your mom with her diary, imagined they were "writing history."

That's because, in the truest sense, history is what's happening today.  In fact, thanks to pervasive technology, it feels like everything happens faster than ever before.  But distressingly, that very technology is contributing to the loss of our recent history.  Although they say things on the Internet never really go away, they aren't exactly "curated," either.  Facebook posts get buried under the day's newest blurbs.  Instant messages and tweets hit the ether and are gone in an instant.  Digital photos lurk in cameras or phones but are rarely printed out and scrap-booked.  Our memories are becoming ephemeral.

What this means is that the newest pages of our history are blank.  Today's collegians may not think their recruitment parties or Anchor Games or philanthropy projects are "historic," but they surely will be in a few years.  When your little's little's little is being initiated, what you did today will be history to her.

It is important to keep records of our activities.  Delta Gamma has 21 chapters that are at least 100 years old; of those, 10 have celebrated their 125th anniversary!  These milestones are typically marked with the reading or publication of detailed chapter histories.  I can say from experience that it's getting harder and harder to fill in the last couple of decades' worth of events now that we no longer live in an ink-and-paper age.

Some chapters (I'm looking at you, Alpha Tau, Gamma Mu, Eta Delta, Sigma, and Gamma Nu!) have a keen awareness of the richness of their chapter legacy. More often, though, CDCs report little or no awareness of the need to keep track of chapter histories. That's why we've created a new requirement for the collegiate vp: Communications and their crews, a report in eOps+ called "Update chapter annual history." This brief report is due at the end of each semester. It asks about activities, member accomplishments, housing, awards, and other achievements. The information gathered is kept on file. Ultimately, it will serve the same purpose as the folders full of dance cards, initiation luncheon invitations, and newspaper clippings at the Frances Lewis Stevenson Archives at EO -- helping to paint the fullest picture of life in each of our chapter.*

March is "Women's History Month."  We, the women of Delta Gamma, are making history every day.  Let's make sure that the women who follow us are able to read, enjoy, and learn from the narrative we're writing today.

* And for the 18 chapters who still haven't done your Fall 2012 update, it's easy.  The director of chapter archives (alternately, the vp: communications) must log into eOps+.  Choose "Tasks" on the left-hand toolbar and you'll get a list of the forms that have been submitted or are due/past due.  Click on "Update Chapter Annual History - 12/1/2012."  The form itself is pretty much self-explanatory.  And remember -- the more detail you provide, the better your chapter's future history will read!  The next submission will be due this May.

Karen Ann Yaksich Kurlander, Beta Nu-Carnegie-Mellon, a freelance writer and self-proclaimed "history geek," spent 20 years doing public relations for various Bell System and Verizon companies, and then 10 years for the Morris County Historical Society at Acorn Hall.  The position of Director: Archives combines two of her great loves, Delta Gamma and old stuff.  You can reach Karen Ann at