Celebrating 125 Years of Michigan Alpha: Part Four

In honor of Michigan Alpha’s 125th Anniversary, more than 250 alumnae and collegians converged on Hillsdale College for a weekend of events. The following stories, written by Michigan Alpha collegians, were shared during the celebration.

By Anne Morath, Michigan Alpha Senior

Collegians pose for a picture with Grand President Mary Loy Tatum while bowling.

Making my college decision was not easy. Filled with anxiety about choosing the wrong school, I tossed back and forth with fear about failing to follow God’s will in my life.

Because of this, at my Hillsdale visit I tirelessly examined every detail hoping for some grand mystical sign from God that would convince me that Hillsdale was the place for me. During that visit I had the privilege of meeting some Michigan Alpha women. The moment I walked into the house, girls everywhere spoke to me with kindness and interest. They asked me questions about myself and my decision and offered words of wisdom, even though I was a seemingly inconsequential prospective student. It was truly an amazing experience.

Though it was not quite written in the stars or prophetically spoken, I knew I loved this house right away, and in those moments, God assuaged some of my fears about college. I had seen a true home, filled with women united in a common purpose and bound by love for one another.

From this example, I knew I too had found a home at Hillsdale College and in the Michigan Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi. When January finally came, I remember rushing down the steps of Central Hall, tears streaming, falling into the arms of my new sisters. I was a Pi Phi at Hillsdale at last. The last four years have been an adventure, discovering all that being a Michigan Alpha entails. By peeling back the layers of history and by resurrecting the stories buried deep in Michigan Alpha memory, it has become apparent to me that the women of this chapter hold one thing most dear about their Pi Phi experience. It is this one thing that defines, at least to me, what it means to be a Pi Phi at Hillsdale College. Just like my first impression of this place, this house actually became, and is continually becoming, a home filled with enduring friendship to all who wear the golden arrow and silver blue.

However, unlike my first impression, I discovered that for something to truly become a home, you have to not only recognize its merits but also its failures. As Hillsdale students we are always taught to believe in the ideal, yet we forget this world is fallen, this world will never match up. So it is with Pi Phi and with Michigan Alpha. Yet, as we see with Christ, and as I see with Pi Phi, it is the beauty that shines through the flaws that makes all the difference and makes this house what it is. For what other reason would this incredible organization be founded if not for the improvement of women? Our founders had a vision, that I see beautifully albeit imperfectly implemented in this chapter. We Michigan Alpha’s can all recall a time when we were hurt by a sister or wounded another. Yet, the beauty remains and this home, however flawed, is still a place of acceptance and friendship.

My best memories are here with these real women, all imperfectly striving toward the same goal, a most noble womanhood. I have many fun memories such as the whole house having impromptu dance parties, road-tripping to Arrowmont with Marianna and Morgan, tribal dancing with Abba on our front lawn and being suddenly woken up at 8am after a Pi Phi, who shall remain nameless, set off the fire alarm with her hair dryer.

However, it is not only fun memories I will carry, but also the profoundly meaningful ones such as falling asleep next to my big, Marissa, the night before her graduation, wishing desperately she would stay another year, reading Juliann’s poems that put words to the sentiments of her beautiful heart, watching my roommate, Emily, suffer through the grief after losing her father and sharing my heart with my little, Bond, the most kindred of all spirits.

These are the memories that have made my Pi Phi experience the blessing it is today. And they are a constant reminder that Pi Phis are real women. We cry, laugh, yell, play pranks, fight, face-plant during recruitment and most of all love one another everyday as best as we can. I am sure all Michigan Alphas and Pi Phis across the country remember not only the rituals that bind us, the values that guide us and the letters that unite us, but more than anything, the women who changed us. Pi Beta Phi and Michigan Alpha has produced women of poise, dedication and exemplary integrity generation after generation. And I pray that Pi Phi continues to do so.

These women stand in line with that tradition. They have made my Pi Phi career one of my most treasured and beautiful memories. For without them, college would have been so different, and I am thankful every day that Pi Phi has given me the opportunity to know them, flaws and all. For here at Pi Beta Phi I have found a true home, and as Mother Teresa once said, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”

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