Meet Katie Duke! She's a Chi Omega alum from the Psi chapter at the University of Arkansas.
Q: What do you remember most about going through rush?
Katie: I definitely remember the advice I got, to look around at the girls standing next to you because they’re the ones you’d be pledging with. And then, of course, at Chi O there was there was the loud “yay.” And then, being on the flip side of that, getting to meet all of the potential new members and learn their stories and see who could fit in our house.
Q: What do you think has changed about the recruitment process since you went through?
Katie: Oh my goodness, I feel like they’ve come such a long way. My year was the first year they did t-shirts, so that was a change from the years before me. And there’s no more skit day, there used to be a day of rush where every house did skits. I was on the recruitment team my senior year, and by my sophomore year there was no more skit day. There’s just so many more girls and not enough time. My pledge class was 80, and that felt huge.
Q: What memories do you have that stand out from pledgeship?
Katie: Oh, just all of the Coke dates, and I feel like every time I went to the house I met someone new. It was just a whole new world every time, or you’d see someone wearing a t-shirt from a function you went to too, and you’re like, “you’re a Chi O? I had no idea!”
Q: Sorority life really influences different parts of your life, from your grades to being involved in various activities on campus. Sorority girls are definitely busy. What part of your college life was most influenced by Chi Omega?
Katie: I’d say that I learned a lot about time management while being in Chi O. You have to decide when you can study so you can have time to go to a function, or a meeting, and a ton of my friends in my major were also Chi O’s, so that made it nice to have study groups, people to walk to class with, and all of those fun things.
Q: Did you ever live in the house? What year?
Katie: I did, my junior year. I lived in the 3-girl room and the 16-girl attic, before the fancy remodel they have now. It’s so nice now. I knew one of the girls in my 3-girl really well, her cousin was actually my Gamma Chi (recruitment counselor). So I knew her when I was pledging, and the other girl I didn’t know as well but it was awesome to get to know her, and her sister was actually my boss later when I graduated. So it was a real, small-world thing. And of course, the 16-girl attic is just crazy.
Q: When people ask about your time in a sorority now that you’re a real adult in the real world, what are your favorite stories to tell that really capture your sorority experience?
Katie: One, it’s crazy how many people you’ll meet that are Chi O’s in the business world, I had a business meeting and there was a woman there who was probably a decade older than me, but she was a Chi O, and it was just so funny. You meet all these people and you have a common connection with them. It comes back to my friends, really. No matter which house you go, you always find your right group, and I’ve been in their weddings, some of them are having kids now, it’s just so fun to get to do life with them.
Q: You were involved after graduation. What was your role?
Katie: I was an adviser for awhile, and I took a new job and couldn’t keep doing it. I did it for a year or so. But I still keep up with the Northwest Arkansas chapter. It was so weird being an adviser! I didn’t feel like I was old enough to be on the flip side of it. But I was so impressed by the caliber of the chapter. The girls, what everyone was doing, some of it was so similar to what I used to see when I was in house, and some of it was so different. The girls are so mature and on top of things, I was so impressed.
Q: So there’s kind of an unfair portrayal in popular culture of sorority girls and Greek life in general, what do you think is often misunderstood about the sorority lifestyle?
Katie: They think it’s all parties, fun, and makeup, and sure that’s part of it, but that’s not all it is. When I graduated, I was really adamant on finding ways to stay involved in my community because I missed that from Chi O. Being able to work with Make A Wish, and all the philanthropic events we do, it’s so important. People don’t think about all the good that the Greek community is doing here, locally and nationally. And those girls are the people I studied with, they taught me to learn accountability. And you had to learn to get along with a lot of different people, which is important. When I interview people now for entry-level positions, that’s a way they learn how to be in those situations. You just learn so much.
Q: We all have funny, embarrassing moments in our sorority experiences. What do you look back on and laugh about?
Katie: I feel like there’s so many! One of my friends was the assistant secretary, and we spent the whole time trying to figure out how we could sit next to each other in chapter because at the time, it was alphabetical. So I decided to become her deputy, but it was a whole position we made up! We told people it was real, that way we could be the last ones into chapter and the first ones out. In the 16-girl attic, there was this girl who would always come in super late, and my bed was the closest to the door. She would run into it every night. So I thought I would set up a trap, since she always walked into my bed while I was trying to sleep. So I would put canned goods and things like that, and she would still just walk through it and smack into my bed, it was so funny. We also used to play jokes and say that it was the ghost of Jobelle Holcombe.
Q: So with the rapid development of social media just in the last 5 years even, a lot about sorority life has changed. What do you think is different because of social media?
Katie: I don’t think we had any social media when I was a member. I know we didn’t have an Instagram, maybe we had a Facebook and I just didn’t know about it. I follow the Chi Omega Instagram now since I was the social media adviser, and even if I wasn’t I would still follow it. It’s so fun to text my friends who were Chi O’s and say, “did you see this? They just had Yippie Chi O! Who did you take to that?” It’s huge now, and there’s so many girls, I don’t know how they keep up with it. And the 11/11 Make A Wish day is genius. We were just trying to sell popsicles outside of the Union, and now there’s such a bigger impact with it being online. It keeps alums involved. If there’s a percentage night at Chick Fil A and I know I’m gonna be eating out anyway tonight, I’ll know to go where there’s a philanthropy night. It’s so cool for alums. I feel like that whole relationship building aspect is influenced too, because you might see a girl pop up on Instagram that you know from Chi O. So you see all these girls who are doing awesome things, and it’s so cool.
Q: All in all, what advice would you give sorority girls now who are wondering what’s after graduation?
Katie: I would say good luck, and even if you’re not involved on an official level, there are ways to stay involved. Get to know the Chi O’s in your area, and if you can, be an adviser. It’s a small world, and you can make connections easily. When I became an adviser and would chaperone functions with a friend, we would just be like, “how did we stay up this late?” The next day we’d go to work and feel like we’re dying. How did we stay up until 2 am?
Q: What’s the best advice you got while being in Chi Omega?
Katie: The best advice I ever got was that you’ll get out of it what you put into it. If you stay in touch with those people, they’ll stay your very best friends. They may be all over, in Dallas, Chicago, Texarkana, wherever they go. It also gives you such a great entry point after college, even one of my clients was a Chi O. It's easy to connect with people that way.