Reflecting on 17 Years of Sisterhood

The celebrations are over and the service work is complete. Today, as the women of Theta Nu Xi get back to their normal schedules, Flutters and Flights looks back on the accomplishments Theta Nu Xi has enjoyed since our founding.

In 17 years, Theta Nu Xi has pushed for positive change even when it has been uncomfortable, unified communities through hands-on care, and served as a leader in an increasingly multicultural world. More than that, however, the Sorority has nourished an ever-evolving energy that unites women across all boundaries. The efforts of diverse women from all walks of life have resulted in the creation of an atmoshphere in which women have the freedom to be vulnerable, to disagree, to find commonalities, and to experience genuine sisterly love. And, it has all been by design.

Katherine Stanley (Alpha 1997)

Katherine Stanley (Alpha 1997)

As a Founder, my hope for the organization was to create an inclusive environment for women. One that attracted women passionate about impacting their communities through leadership and service. We aspired to create an organization that represented our communities, not only in race and ethnicities. We wanted Theta Nu Xi to be a catalyst for change and inspire others to take action. Over the past 17 years, I continue to be amazed at how our sorority’s mission and purpose just “fit” for so many and without it, those individuals would have missed fulfilling their dream of a multicultural sisterhood.

Conceived in 1996 and officially recognized by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1997, Theta Nu Xi is the first multicultural sorority founded in the southeastern United States. From the beginning, members of Theta Nu Xi had to make a choice about who they were going to be and what they were going to stand for. Responding to the challenges of starting a unique organization, the earliest members of Theta Nu Xi elected to create a welcoming haven where women would be empowered to address complex social challenges with the requisite knowledge and confidence they would need to be effective.

For 17 years, members of the Sorority have sought to promote leadership, multiculturalism, and self-improvement, and to serve as living examples of sisterhood across all boundaries. We have been the Sorority where everyone feels at home, even if they never join the sisterhood. Thanks to a timeless purpose and the tireless efforts of the Sorority’s earliest members, Theta Nu Xi was not even four years old when the first chapter outside of North Carolina—Epsilon Chapter–was founded. Amanda Tomchak, Iota Chapter founder, remembers:

Amanda Tomchak (Iota, 2001)

Amanda Tomchak (Iota, 2001)

My Line Sisters and I were drawn to Theta Nu Xi because we met the Founders of the Epsilon Chapter and saw firsthand the diversity and sisterhood they represented at a National Conference for Community and Justice walk. We felt the University of Utah needed and could greatly benefit from an organization embracing and promoting multiculturalism as there wasn’t really anything like that on campus when we came along.

In 2001, Theta Nu Xi finalized an initiative that created a pathway–aligned with collegiate level processes–through which women who had already graduated from college might have an opportunity to join Theta Nu Xi. Upon its launch, the Sorority’s Graduate, Alumnae, and Professional (GAP) program became the first program of its kind among multicultural sororities. The GAP program introduced a brand new space for professional women to engage with one another in a multicultural environment.

As a result, today, 20% of the sisterhood is composed of members who were initiated at the GAP level, and who bring a fresh perspective to the work of Theta Nu Xi. Because initiates at the GAP level typically have advanced degrees and existing careers, these women have created a momentum urging all members through the doors of success.

Theta Nu Xi has a high percentage of members, relative to the general population, pursuing or having already received doctoral degrees. One sister, Kennetha Frye, shares how Theta Nu Xi has influenced her educational aspirations.

Kennetha Fyre (Phi, 2005)

Kennetha Fyre (Phi, 2005)

The first time I applied to a doctorate program, I did not get accepted and I wanted to throw in the towel. I was twenty years old at the time and did not have much experience, but was encouraged by my sisters to reapply the next year once I gained more experience in research and became legal. So that is what I did. The next year I was accepted to two doctoral programs. Ultimately, the one that I chose turned out to be a perfect fit for me, and most importantly tuition was fully paid for. Five years later, as I prepare for graduation I realize that had it not been for my sorors pushing me along the way when I wanted to give up, I would have never achieved such an esteemed honor!

Over the next 17 years, Theta Nu Xi will continue to be a critical voice in a changing world. We will continue to mature as an organization. We will initiate each successive generation of thoughtful, driven, and loving women who derive their pride and purpose from the sisterhood they carry with them. And, we will stoke the flame of passion for justice and equity that has been passed down to us.

Jessica Peñaranda (Alpha Gamma, 2005)

Jessica Peñaranda (Alpha Gamma, 2005)

I am proud everyday of being a sister of this organization. Every day I know that I have a powerful support network and family in my sisters both near and far. I am especially proud of our conscious[ness] raising efforts throughout the years around multiculturalism, systems of oppression, and advancing the empowerment of a “sisterhood” as a personal and political identity for myself in particular. This has been what continues to sustain my vitality and energy to keep working hard as a sister and a larger member of our global community and what truly drew me into joining our wonderful organization.

On Saturday April 12, 2014, Theta Nu Xi made history when we instituted our inagural We Are ONE Day of Service. Proposed by 3rd National President, LaToya Eaves, the Day of Service will take place each year. This initiative is but one in a long line of advances that will propell the Sorority forward.

Looking forward to the next 17 years, we will continue the legacy set by of our Founders and attend to our world with compassion, honesty, endurance, and strength.