Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 4

By Nathalie Martin, '10, Lambda Theta Alpha

When I first started my undergraduate career, I had a plan: get a degree in Biology, get a PhD, and do brilliant lab research for the rest of my life. Joining a sorority had absolutely no place in this plan. If I could go back in time and give myself some solid advice, it would be to shut up and quit pretending that you can make a life trajectory for yourself at 17 years old. One of the most important lessons I learned at Lehigh was not that I am terrible at Organic Chemistry, but that the best opportunities come along when you kick the plan aside and let life happen. When I finally figured that out, I changed my major a couple times, traveled way outside of my comfort zone to make new friends, and became a founding sister of the Delta Upsilon chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.

My junior year, I moved in with two women who were part of the LTA interest group. A couple months later, Gabriela Saade, who is now my line sister, best friend, and mentor, asked me to join the interest group. LTA was one of the most inspiring organizations I had ever come across. The principles of Unity, Love, and Respect were carried out by every sister I met, and the organization’s passion for community service and strong sisterhood were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. And even though I am not Latina, I had a strong desire to give women a different option for Greek life. For all these reasons, I became a sister of LTA by the end of the Spring 2008 semester, and I haven’t looked back since.

The new member education process allowed me to discover my strengths and acquire a strong sense of self-respect. I met four women who, aside from my mother, have been the most influential and unwavering sources of friendship in my life. My four line sisters, Stephanie Huiza, Gaby Saade, Diana Camejo, and Brittany Lewis, have taught me more about myself than I could possibly imagine. Together, we built the foundation of our chapter. We poured our hearts, energy, and way too many study hours into making our vision a reality. With five members, extremely limited funding, no alumni support, and no sisters within a 60 mile radius, we built strong relationships with Lehigh Greeks, clubs, and administrators, and sponsored entirely too many events. Through this long, difficult process, my sisters taught me how to become a better leader, how to be honest with both them and myself, and how to accept people for who they are. Because of this, my constant focus on people’s negative attributes turned into a never-ending fascination with people who have strengths so different from my own. To me, what it came down to was that differences in leadership styles, beliefs, and personalities are what make an organization stronger. When a group has so many different strengths at their disposal, what is the point of focusing on an individual’s weakness?

If you had told me five years ago that this is the kind of person I would become, I would have told you that you’re out of your mind. Back then, I had no idea I actually disliked science, had natural leadership skills, and had the ability to not be so judgmental. Five years ago, I hated Lehigh. Today, I am overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of leaving this place behind. In the past year, I’ve had the privilege of being the chapter president of LTA and watch our chapter flourish in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I am so proud of our accomplishments, and I truly hope that the community has benefitted from our strong presence on campus. Today, I can walk away with the certainty that LTA, members of the mainstream and multicultural Greek community, my friends, Lehigh administrators, and professors have given me the tools to take on any challenge thrown my way. To the students lucky enough to remain in this safe haven a little while longer, I leave you with one piece of advice: don’t leave here with any regrets. Push your limits, stay open to new experiences, and never be afraid to make mistakes. That way, when you finally do reach graduation day, you can be sure you’re walking away with more than just a diploma