Wednesday, September 14, 2016

From Cornfields to Palm Trees

From Cornfields to Palm Trees
Ashley Lahue
Kappa Kappa (Ball State U)

I thought leaving my friends in Indiana and family in St. Louis was hard, but parting ways with the 14 women that I grew to love in Nashville was even more challenging. We had bonded to the point of referring to ourselves as our own little chapter, Epsilon Lambda Chi—ELC. The only thing that made me feel prepared to trek out to the West Coast was knowing that I was taking a little piece from each member of my team.

From Maddie Archer-Burton: vulnerability. Andi Tomko-Williams taught me ambition. Miko Guzzardo displayed independence. From Jenni Law: apathy. Ali McLaughlin showed me creativity. From Mary Kate Berger: kindness. Erin Mullaney was trustworthy. Meghan Brown taught me determination. From Jordan Seaman: enthusiasm. Alicia Gauker demonstrated patience. Lauren Smith showed me motivation. Ankita Naik was full of joy. Tanasia Jackson embodied true sisterhood.

After an 11-hour travel day that consisted of missing my first-ever flight and navigating the most overwhelming airport in the world (shout out to Dallas Fort Worth), I finally arrived at California State University Long Beach. I was welcomed by palm trees and Pacific Ocean air, and comforted by Lambda Beta Chapter’s unconditional love.

Throughout this journey thus far, I have hiked the Rocky Mountains, danced on the Santa Monica pier, welcomed new members on bid day, sang under Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and stargazed at 6,700 feet.

But the most exciting experience of all has been realizing, first hand, the common bond that every AOII shares. Whether you are on the West Coast or in the Midwest, sisterhood is sisterhood, and we all need somebody to lean on.

Sometimes I glance at the “Find Friends” map and my heart sinks to find that my closest ELC teammate is still 1,650 miles away. But that feeling quickly fades when the newly-met sister to my left invites me on a McDonalds run for my third Diet Coke of the day.

I wanted to be an ELC to lift others up, but the women I have met have encouraged me and uplifted me beyond what I could have ever imagined.



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