Theta Service Trip 2017

By Rachel Lipski

Service, cultural awareness and intellectual and social development are at the heart of Theta’s values. This winter break I was honored to attend a Theta Foundation sponsored trip to Vancouver with sisters from across the country and Canada where we not only worked on service projects but also discussed how we could partake in service as a chapter and personally.

While service (especially a service trip to a new place) can often feel detached from the community you are serving, this trip was organized in such a way that we would first get a tour or learn about the background of the organization or site to which we were providing service. Developing relationships with the community we were serving really enhanced the experience and inspiration of the service, and facilitated a perspective of working alongside a community rather than merely for a community. For example, on the first day of the trip we were given a walking tour of Stanley Park by two members of an active first world peoples group, native to that park. During the tour they shared information about their tribe’s history, use of the land, and the park’s cultural significance to them today. Following the tour, we were given a presentation by the Stanley Park Ecological Society, with whom we partnered to execute a park clean up, excavating invasive species of plants.

Every evening, as a full group, we discussed aspects of the day that we found surprising or challenging to our prior worldviews, acknowledging where places of privilege, biases, or assumptions manifest themselves. While each member of trip came from different backgrounds and college experiences, we all agreed that we wanted this trip to be one where we could encourage one another to be more conscientious. Before bed, I journaled privately, answering questions such as What did I learn about community and culture? In what way has my worldview been changed or enhanced? Honestly, going to sleep each night, following our discussion and journal time, I often remained feeling unsettled about questions like how is it possible to engage in a new place as a tourist in an industry that monetizes cultural appropriation? Where I do find comfort, however, is in recognizing that the leading women that Theta has shaped are women who will not feel settled about the many areas of adversity facing so many worldwide. The awareness and even disturbance of these pressing issues is what truly inspires and empowers Thetas internationally to have the widest influence for good.

Since coming back to school for the Spring semester, I am so thankful that our chapter has also adopted such a central focus to the deep questions about diversity and inclusion, both on a macro-level and in a proactive, interpersonal manner encouraging us further our meaningful engagement within our sisters and school.

Rachel is our chapter's Chief Financial Officer and applied to attend the service trip in the fall. Rachel is a junior at Barnard, double majoring in economics and Jewish studies. Outside of her position in Theta, she is on the board of the Athena Pre-Law Society and is a part of Columbia Faith and Action. 

Theta Sisters Enjoy Bacchanal Weekend

AlunaGeorge, an electronic duo from London, performed at Columbia’s Bacchanal music festival. Our sisters enjoyed the day in the beautiful weather dancing to some of AlunaGeorge’s hit songs such as You Know You Like It and I’m In Control. Bacchanal occurs on the first Saturday of April as an occasion for Columbia students to enjoy the spring weather and to destress before final exams. With the intense stress culture that exists at Columbia, Bacchanal is a weekend looked forward to by many. Take a look at some of our sisters enjoying the day: 

From all of our sisters, we all hope you had a great time at Bacchanal! 


Written by Lizzy Phillips; Photos, compliments of Jing Qu



March Leading Women

This month, our chapter highlighted two leading women not only for their academic achievements, but for the fantastic professional opportunities that they have been pursuing for the upcoming summer. 

Annika Reno, a junior at Barnard College who is majoring in political science and human rights, is a Truman Scholarship finalist this semester. Of hundreds of applicants, only a few candidates are selected as finalists from each state. Annika was one of three Barnard students named as finalists for the award, so we are incredibly proud of her for this fantastic achievement. Speaking about why she applied, Annika explained, "I applied for the Truman Scholarship because I intend to pursue a career in public service following graduate school. Driven to address the criminalization of mental illness in my home state of California, I hope to one day create policy for diversionary programs that reduce incarceration and improve access to treatment." 

Annika has had a number of internships in public service that led her to apply for this scholarship, including at United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office and the U.S. Policy and Advocacy team at the Global Citizen Festival. At Columbia, she is on the leadership board of Peer Health Exchange and as board member of the Political Science Student Association. She is currently a research assistant to Columbia Law Professor Carol Sanger and last semester studied human rights abroad in Nepal, Jordan and Chile and conducted her research around perceived opportunities for political participation in emerging democracies.

Our second leading woman of the month is Marielle Greenblatt, a senior at Barnard College who is majoring in political science and Latin American studies. Marielle is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for the upcoming year. She received this incredibly prestigious award after a months-long interview and evaluation process, in which she had to be recommended and evaluated by a number of her professors here. In September, Marielle will head off to Mexico to conduct research as well as teach in a school there for the Fulbright program. Additionally, she will be working specifically on immigration policy while she is there, which has been a big part of her experience at Columbia. About her decision to apply to the Fulbright program, Marielle said, "I wanted experience teaching and doing immigration policy while polishing my Spanish. It seemed like an experience that would make me a stronger immigration advocate and lawyer." 

Marielle has interned at the ACLU previous to this experience, where she worked for their immigrants rights litigation team. This experience not only reinforced her desire to pursue a law degree, but it also was an essential formative experience that convinced her to apply for the Fulbright. After her experience at the ACLU, she was especially interested in seeing immigration cases like the one she worked on from the Mexican side, which she will able to do during her Fulbright experience. Marielle is of mixed Mexican-American descent, so going to Mexico is also giving her to opportunity to learn more about her family's history and the country itself. After her year studying and teaching for the Fulbright, Marielle plans on attending law school.  

Fall's Leading Women

Fall's Leading Women

Even with midterms cramming schedules and heavy course-loads making free time sparse, members of the Epsilon Upsilon chapter continue to pursue their interests beyond the classroom. Their drive to be “Leading Women” never stops, even when the amount of work they have seems unmanageable. Therefore, we’d like to highlight the incredible accomplishments of some of our weekly-awarded “Leading Women” from this semester so far.

First, we highlight Shira Becker, who just accepted a full time offer with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to be a Global Healthcare Investment Banking Analyst after graduation this coming spring. “As a sister who very recently went through the finance recruiting process, I have been a source of support and information for sisters who are interested in getting into the industry,” said Shira. Shira, who is not only dedicated to excelling in this position, is also fully committed to helping her sisters in anyway possible, conducting “coffee chats,” information sessions, resume reviews and mock interviews for anyone who is looking for help.

Representing Columbia Theta at the Emerging Leaders Institute

Representing Columbia Theta at the Emerging Leaders Institute

Even before I knew that Theta’s motto was "Leading Women," I equated the Columbia chapter and its women with leadership. The way the sisters composed themselves, held positions on campus, and supported the empowerment of women made it obvious to me that they were leaders on and off campus. When I, myself, joined the Epsilon Upsilon chapter, I continued to see that the idea of leadership was not just in the individual sisters, but in everything the fraternity did, dating back to 1870. 

Theta’s Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI) is a weekend of leadership training that I was lucky enough to attend this summer. Every year, through the amazing work of the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation, a group of girls from across the country travel to DePauw University to learn how to become better leaders. Along with fellow Columbia Theta sister Ashley Rodriguez and 40 other Thetas from across the country, we started the weekend at DePauw University by talking about what we thought leadership meant.

A Summer of Leading Women

A Summer of Leading Women

Upon joining Theta, our older sisters — who hold our founders and alumnus in high esteem — impart on us a wealth of knowledge about the history of Theta. We learn about all of the incredible accomplishments of our fellow Thetas and quickly become inspired by these courageous “leading women.”

“Leading Women” becomes a reality when you take a look at the astonishingly accomplished women around you. With sisters this summer writing news content for Global Citizen, researching cutting edge scientific discoveries, doing cyber security at GRA Quantum, and working with Nobel laureates—it’s suddenly obvious why Thetas are leading women. Sacrificing sleeping in and sunny beach days for the 9-to-5 office life, these women have internships that inspire them and the people around them to be their best selves and reach for success.

Welcome to the Kappa Alpha Theta - Epsilon Upsilon Chapter Blog!

Welcome to the Kappa Alpha Theta - Epsilon Upsilon Chapter Blog!

In an effort to provide a new platform for sharing more about our chapter and what our sisters are up to, we're introducing the Columbia Theta Blog.  Each week, we'll feature a blog post, written by members of our Publications Committee, about a topic of their choosing.  We hope you enjoy this new addition to our website!

Phoebe Willett, Publications Director