Not many get to see 100 years of an organization thrive and even less to get see new programs unfold. One of MSU's oldest women’s organizations, the Beta Beta chapter of Alpha Phi, celebrated its centennial anniversary.
This past weekend the entire chapter, including alumni from far and wide, came back to East Lansing to celebrate. One of the alumni included Lauren Dietz, who graduated in 1978. She said the celebration consisted of four events: a welcome back event, a house tour, a tailgate and a banquet.
"(The banquet is) where we're really celebrating the centennial gathering and talking about our history and talking about the leadership program,” Dietz said. “We’re calling it the Centennial Leadership Fund.”
Women have been allowed to attend Michigan State since 1870. As these women began to assimilate into the culture of the college itself, these sororities, or as they were called “literary societies,” were created.
“They weren't sure it wasn't it was going to last and it's really hard work to get something started and, and so forth," Dietz said. "And here we are now over 100 years later. And those women, that 17 women really started something, giving me goosebumps.”
One of Lauren Dietz’s co-chairs, Joy Murray, was a fellow member of the Beta Beta chapter of Alpha Phi in 1980. She has been involved in many aspects of the sorority's community, including serving on numerous boards for the chapter.
“(I appreciated) the work that so many women before me had done to make sure that we had a safe and warm and wonderfully operated house," Murray said. "I lived in the house for two years and I don't think I realized at the time, historically, what women had done to create this organization for us to be a part of a sisterhood.”
Susan Sherratt was one of Joy Murray's best friends when they both were in the chapter. Sherratt lives in California which has helped her realize the importance of the community she had been a part of.
“What I realized is that it's not for four years, it's for life,” Sherratt said. “Some people I haven't seen since we graduated and it was just reconnecting and seeing them was like old times. Or having somebody yell 'Brinker' across the room has been really, really special. Just knowing that it's your three or four years when you're in school, but it goes so much more beyond that.”
In the coming centennial, Alpha Phi plans to develop a leadership program for its members that will help them learn skills that will help them develop their capabilities further.
“Our Leadership Fund that we are working to establish is our way of giving back ... and ensuring the success for future members,” Sherratt said.
Murray expressed said the fund is an investment in the future.
"Because we know people invested in us," Murray said. "And we just felt like 100 years is something so phenomenal to celebrate. And what better way to do that than to reinvest in the future of women?”
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