The Impact of Alpha Chi

The Impact of Alpha Chi

By Serene Singh (Nu, University of Colorado Boulder) 

Growing up, I learned about sororities through media, and I knew nothing could possibly pull me into anything related to sororities. Nearly four years of my undergraduate career went by as I pursued two bachelor's degrees in political science and journalism, and I stood by the very same assessment I had of sororities from high school: a sorority could never add to my life; nor me, to it.  

Now, before I explain how I am now writing this piece on the impact Alpha Chi had on my life  especially in light of what I have just said  I must introduce you to Emma, my entry point into Alpha Chi Omega 

Emma and I knew each other from student government. We both worked in male-led environments that constantly undermined the opinions and the experiences of women. Our friendship blossomed at the start through our mutual passion to empower women. I remember working on an idea with Emma to make the student government more inclusive for people coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds one night when she told me she needed to pause to do some “recruitment work.”  

“Emma, do you actually like being in a sorority?” I asked.  

Smiling, she said, “Serene, this thing could change your life if you gave it a chance.” 

An aspiring Supreme Court Justice, thought, If I can't confront this simple bias against sororities now in my life, how will I confront controversial legal battles for the rest of my life? And that was the changing point for me. I wanted to see if I was right - or rather, my perceptions were right on sororities. 

Serene and EmmaSo yes, I joined and was welcomed in Alpha Chi Omega at CU Boulder my second semester of my senior year of undergrad. I know. I couldn’t believe they’d want an oldie like me either. But I am eternally grateful. 

Alpha Chi Omega found me at a time in life when I needed others to believe in me and to help push me toward reaching my dream of impacting lives. Since graduating, I have worked with Alpha Chi Omega chapters around the countrysharing my research to advance the academic journeys of countless sisters; donated hundreds of copies of The Queen Machine (a book I wrote a year after graduation) for sisters to share with girls in their lives or communities needing confidence; and spoken to thousands of university-level officials, parents and students as an Oxford University-based Rhodes Scholar about my experiences in Alpha Chi Omega and the skills, memories and friendships it has instilled in me.  

But it is not just me. 

Serene with her familyI saw Alpha Chi Omega transform the passion and courage of people like Emma, my big Erinn and my twin Carina into contributions to a better world. Emma joined the 501(c)(3) nonprofit I founded, The Serenity Project, as a staff member and now continues to advocate for women and marginalized communities in the field of marketing. Erinn is a primary school teacher working with low-income youth in Coloradogiving them tools each day to dream bigger for their tomorrows. Carina has embarked on a journey of community service in her religious community and works to support women across her church.  

Oxford University does not have anything quite like Alpha Chi Omega or even sororities. But being here, I can reflect on how much value Alpha Chi Omega has brought to my life. The Serenity Project recruits mentors and survivors every year who are Alpha Chi Omega members (maybe one day I will make the partnership official with headquarters!) to expand empowerment workshops worldwide. Every aspect of who I am centers around empowerment for women. In fact, even my current PhD research at Oxford is centered on the experiences of women on death row in the United States. Of course, I am also continuing my book tour worldwide with The Queen Machine to boost the self-confidence of girls 

The common theme through all of this is Alpha Chi Omega: an appreciation for the use of my talents, the love for and from my sisters, and the many self-development skills I have gained  all of which enable me to keep going and keep striving. 

I was wrong about my perception of sororities, but I was right to find Alpha Chi Omega to be my home, even if it was in my senior year. That speaks to the degree of impact the sorority had on my framing of undergrad, and in the years since as well. Learning to be a better real, strong woman and representing Alpha Chi Omega is a journey – one I am able to credit for the woman I am today and the lives I will impact tomorrow.