Today: Feb 25, 2024

Southern Greeks earn high honors at regional conference

Chardoneé Wright, Staff Writer-

Sitting at one of the “front tables” at the National Greek Leadership Association Conference is what Greek Life Council President, Sue Zarnowski, said made her feel happy about how far Southern has come with Greek Life.

“It was super exciting, and was worth not getting any sleep because it was so exciting,” said Zarnowski.

The Northeast Greek Leadership Association Conference was a three-day conference held at the Hartford Convention Center where any university in the Northeast could attend.

According to the Northeast Greek Leadership Association’s website, the mission of NGLA is to promote the founding principles and positive traditions of all Greek letter organizations through opportunities that encourage learning and leadership for the Northeast region.

During those three days, students of Greek Life were able to participate in workshops, lectures, conferences and an award banquet.

For over 10 years, Southern has been attending the annual conference.

NGLA’s website also states that there are six values that NGLA abides by in order to continue to be successful in the future.

Those values are accountability, challenge, inclusivity, learning, service and tradition.

One of the representatives from Southern that attended the conference was junior public health major Caitlyn Gaetani, member of Omega Zeta Pi sorority.

This conference was Gaetani’s first time attending.

“It was actually really enlightening,” said Gaetani. 

The conference allowed students to represent their school’s organizations, fraternities and sororities. 

With over 1,300 attendees, Zarnowski said she was able to network extensively. 

“Anyone from Massachusetts, to Pennsylvania, to New York was there. I got to meet people from Cornell,” said Zarnowski. “That was pretty cool.” 

The workshop topics ranged from recruitment and retention within an organization to academics and group dynamics. 

Sal Rizza, associate director of Student Life said the conference contributed a great deal in how to teach personal and professional development for students.

“It offered programs and workshops about how to develop a fraternity or sorority and how to develop and improve different fraternity and sorority councils,” said Rizza.

Southern submitted nominations for the awards in two of the Community Impact Categories and received two honorable mentions in Community Impact Awards in the categories of Membership Recruitment and Multicultural Initiatives.

Not only was Zarnowski the first Southern student to serve on the NGLA staff, she was also one out of 10 students in the Northeast to win the Greek Leader of Distinction Award.

Previously, students have applied to be on NGLA’s staff and have not won.

NGLA’s website states that each year at the annual conference, NGLA recognizes outstanding individuals, chapters, councils and Greek communities in the region with the presentation of awards.

“I submitted a nomination for her, for the Greek Leader of Distinction Award,” said Rizza. “It’s somebody who has made an impact on our campus and specifically in the Greek life community, which is what Sue has certainly done.”

Zarnowski said that receiving the award–along with serving as a staff member at the conference–is an experience that she will never forget. 

“It was pretty awesome,” said Zarnowski. “Because I have never received an award and I got to work with other people from other schools, and helped set up presentations, and introduced speakers. That was really sorority, Kappa Delta Xi.

Zarnowski said that engaging in sorority life not only allows her to network with people, it is a great opportunity to be a part of student life.

“Everyone has a stereotype that you are buying friends or something bad will happen to you. That doesn’t happen,” said Zarnowski.

Rizza agreed with Zarnowski and adds that Greek Life upholds morals and values.

“They swear, they promise, and aspire to live to a set of principles that have been previously established by their founders and people that come before them. They are value-based organizations,” said Rizza.

Activities and events that her sorority participates in have been important to Gaetani as well.

“We have our annual bowl-a-thon and we also do other smaller events, lollipop sales,” said Gaetani. “It’s gotten me out there pretty much. I’ve met so many people and have made so many connections.”

Zarnowski added that being in Greek life has given her the biggest advantage yet: opportunity to invest in her future. 

“Because of these opportunities that I invested in, I became a staff member for the conference, and I won an award I never thought I would win. It’s who you become as a woman or a man. It’s helping your future,” said Zarnowski. 

Rizza added that any student should take advantage of an organization that fits them in student life because there are many benefits from engaging yourself on campus.

“These are younger people, adults and college students that are doing great things, and I wish that is what you saw in the media on a day-to-day basis instead of the images that we are seeing. So it made me feel good about my work and being associated with that,” said Rizza.

Networking, opportunities and social interaction–all have contributed to why Zarnowski said this year’s conference was like no other. 

She said it showed everyone just how far Southern has come.

“Southern is on the map and Southern is growing, “said Zarnowski

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