Thursday, April 25, 2013

What it Means to be an Adivser

As our final Adviser Appreciation Month blog post we have a letter from an adviser to Mu-Missouri's Chapter Management Team (CMT). It is a wonderful summary of what advisers are and what they do for our collegians. 

Dear Mu CMT,

I am looking forward to having a fabulous year of improvements and watching each of you make your mark on Mu chapter.

There are a few things that I just wanted to go over as we undertake the new year.

My job is to advise, not do. Sometimes, it's hard for me to toe the line on that one. I need to guide, offer ideas, and answer questions. If I make suggestions, it's okay to say no. Ultimately, you are responsible for the duties of your positions. Watch your deadlines and be knowledgeable with all of the handbooks and resources available to you.

I appreciate your prompt responses to me and other advisers. If you need time to look into something or you're in the middle of a crazy few days with classes, just send a quick, "I got your message and I should be able to look into it soon." It is preferable to receive some type of response within 24 hours. I will do the same for you. If things are crazy with the kids and I can't get you an answer right away, I'll at least let you know that. Trying to follow some etiquette that you might see when you enter a job after college hopefully will be helpful.

You can call me, text me, email me, ask to meet for coffee. I'm very accessible.  If you need a home-cooked meal, I'm here for that too.

Please remember what we've talked about as a chapter as far as social responsibility. As an officer, you are held to a higher standard. Please watch what you post on Facebook and/or photos others tag you in. I see some really great group shots and then I see some pictures that aren't so great. These are there forever. I'm not on Twitter so I won't see what you're doing there, but make it worthy of being a Delta Gamma. Be positive examples for the chapter.

Stay on top of your studies. If you are finding trouble managing, come to me. We'll talk and work on it. Don't let the end of the semester catch up to you and find your grades aren't what they need to be. Balance is hard to achieve, but I know you can do it.

I am thankful to each of you for being willing to step up and lead your chapter. Be confident in your leadership abilities and be flexible. Delegate. Dream. Keep focus on the big picture when the day-to-day starts to drag you down. Be ready to hold your sisters accountable. Be ready to see the amazing product of your hard work. Honor Eva, Anna, and Mary in everything you do, and I'll always be your champion. 


Julie Ryan, Epsilon Nu - James Madison, is the Member Education Adviser of Mu-Missouri. She can be reached at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Aunt Hannah" Mentorship Program Brings Boston DGs Together

I am writing this from Boston Logan Airport as I wait for my flight to London shortly after the explosions occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It has been an emotional day of a range of emotions including excitement, fear, and sorrow. As I checked in with our fellow Delta Gamma alumnae sisters who were running the marathon to make sure they were safe I was overwhelmed with emotions. I moved to Boston about three years ago from New York after finishing my AmeriCorps service to start a new position with Harvard Medical School. I was unaccustomed to the city and did not know a single person. Immediately I reached out to the Boston Delta Gamma Alumnae Chapter and before I knew it I met fellow alumnae, attended social gatherings, and volunteered for Service for Sight. Before I knew it, I had a network of engaged, driven, and smart women to spend time with. When I heard of an opportunity to get matched with a collegian in a mentorship program called “Aunt Hannah” through the alumnae chapter I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved as an alumnae. I also understood the challenges and frustrations of finding a mentor and how difficult it could be to navigate student life, academia, and chartering your path as a young professional.

As an “Aunt Hannah” I was matched with Amy Bryson a Delta Gamma at Boston University’s Zeta Zeta chapter who at the time was studying international relations with a focus on international systems, public health, and economics. Now she is teaching a 6th grade science and social studies class at a Title-1, failing middle school in Atlanta, GA through Teach For America. Her students face gaps in literacy up to four grade levels (meaning 6th graders are reading and writing at 2nd grade level). However, currently her students are writing five paragraph argumentative essays on the level of the 8th grade-writing test based on clips from 60 Minutes and New York Times Articles about high-level, cross-content topics such as Fracking for Oil Shale or Privatizing Water. This is a testimony of her incredible strength, determination, and passion for ensuring children have access to high quality education to provide opportunities to rise out of poverty.

Over the years I have been a mentee and a mentor in numerous mentorship programs both when I was an undergraduate, graduate student, and now as a young professional. Often it can be challenging, lacking structure, and sometimes even awkward. A true mentorship relationship embodies a balance between listening and problem solving. I have learned a vast amount from being an “Aunt Hannah” during late night Skype sessions with Amy discussing the challenges of being a leader, working in low resource impoverished settings and not getting burn out, trying to navigate uncharted carrier territory, and making graduate school decisions. It has been truly rewarding and has deepened the meaning of my life long membership as a Delta Gamma alumna. I believe through mentorship alumnae can provide guidance and a platform for discussion of hard topics such as finding a true balance as a professional, navigating the grey area of making career decisions, and the gender gap.  

Ariella Camera, Alpha Chi-Penn State, is a Master’s Degree Candidate in Sustainable International Development at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, at Brandeis University. She transplanted to Boston three years ago where she works at the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) and is VP Membership of the Boston Delta Gamma Alumnae Chapter. You can reach Ariella at 

Boston Delta Gamma Alumnae Chapter: The Delta Gamma Boston alumnae chapter supports Zeta Phi- Harvard and Zeta Zeta- Boston University collegiate chapters in a variety of different ways. Throughout the year, alumnae interact with collegians at Founders Day, Foundation activities, and social events like an annual senior tea. Additionally, alumnae provide support for both chapters by volunteering at recruitment and raising funds for several scholarships. In recent years, the alumnae chapter has integrated a mentorship component through “Aunt Hannah” programming, which has spanned from alumnae getting matched with collegians based on professional interests to mentorship-focused events. Boston alumnae look forward to strengthening this mentoring program to better provide collegians and alumnae an opportunity to meaningfully connect.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Being an Adviser is not being an "Obstacle to Fun"

When the opportunity to become ATC arose, I was a bit nervous.  I had been involved with Delta Gamma on an alumnae level, but I had not been involved on the collegiate side since my own collegiate experience.   I expected to be viewed as an obstacle to fun. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the lecture hall at the University of Delaware for the first time.  I was welcomed by a room full of ‘snaps’ from the women of Zeta Chi, who were excited to have additional support after becoming accustomed to limited adviser involvement.  This warm welcome assured me that accepting this position had been the right decision. 

My first year as ATC was spent learning about the chapter and campus dynamics by attending meetings and events in person.  Due to relocation, I have been forced to become a distance adviser.  When I am not able to be physically present, I am able to maintain my relationship digitally (email, phone, text, Skype, etc.).  Through both of these advising experiences, I have learned that timely communication is key to a successful and respectful advising relationship.  I may not always have an answer to their questions immediately, or at all, but letting these women know that I will work to help them find an answer or an appropriate resource keeps everyone informed and stress-free.  Being an adviser is not about giving answers and enforcing rules.  It is about helping to give these young women the tools, resources, and guidance they need to find their own answers, conduct themselves with dignity, and essentially run their own business. 

Many of my friends ask me why I continue to be involved in Delta Gamma at my age, or why I don’t transfer my advising positions to a collegiate chapter that is closer to where I currently live.  The answer is simple: Over the past two years it has been amazing to watch the women grow personally, professionally, and as a chapter.  My relationship has grown even deeper to include not only adviser, but mentor and friend.  For me, Delta Gamma is a lifelong commitment, and I hope to inspire these women to feel the same way.  

Cara Deitcher, Beta Sigma-Maryland is the Advisory Team Chair for Zeta Chi - Delaware. She can be reached at

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From Lost Alumna to Adviser

I recently heard a term that was new to me – “lost alumna.”  For nearly twenty years, that term described me.

I left DG behind when I left college, in part because I lived far from my campus of initiation and my sisters were spread out across the country.  I did not realize I missed DG until my daughter joined a different sorority at the University of Alabama before DG colonized here.  When DG announced that it was colonizing at the University of Alabama, I sought opportunities to be involved in limited ways.  Then I received an unforgettable phone call – I was asked to serve as an adviser.  I protested that I had no time, but I was a push over because I wanted to contribute in any way I could to make sure the new Delta Gamma colony would be outstanding.  

That call truly changed my life.  I now spend significant time (hours I did not know I could find) consulting with collegians and assisting the officers, directors, and other advisers.  In return, I receive rewards I anticipated: satisfaction from watching the collegians successfully complete major tasks; joy from relationships with outstanding young women who are just beginning to chart their paths in life; pride from observing motivated and caring young women develop into mature leaders; and fulfillment from relationships with the outstanding members of the advisory team.  I also receive rewards I never imagined:  knowledge and personal growth due to the extensive tutelage of our outstanding Council Appointed Consultant and Council Appointed Recruitment Coordinator; friendship and wisdom from numerous dedicated fraternity officers, directors and employees who have always willingly answered my numerous questions; and the development of skills in conflict management, leadership, teaching, etiquette, and communications from working with the collegians.  To my surprise, I learn as much, or more, from the collegians than they learn from me!  I am truly grateful to be a found alumna.

Appie Owens Millsaps, Zeta Beta - Dartmouth College, is an attorney at law in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  She practices with the law firm of Owens & Millsaps.  She also serves as the Advisory Team Chairperson for Beta Psi - University of Alabama.  You can reach Appie at