KOKOMO, Ind. — Being a member of Indiana University Kokomo's Phi Sigma Sigma sorority empowers Jessica Hatt, pushing her to achieve far more than she ever expected when she joined.
"Phi Sigma Sigma's goal is to empower women, and build them into leaders," she said. "I've had opportunities to attend leadership events in Washington, D.C., and in New York City, which have enhanced my college experience immensely."
Phi Sigma Sigma's Iota Epsilon chapter celebrates its 10th anniversary at IU Kokomo in 2013. In November, its national organization, which has 108 chapters in the United States and Canada, will commemorate 100 years since its founding.
Sarah Sarber, dean of students, called the anniversary "a significant milestone in student life," because it created a more collegiate feel to the campus.
"The women who are part of this organization should be very proud of what they have accomplished," she said. "They have made substantial contributions to philanthropies and community service, and have been active participants in campus life."
As a charter member of the IU Kokomo chapter, Reeta Piirala-Skoglund is excited to see the chapter reach this milestone. She has fond memories of the work that went into founding the chapter, and the excitement of being part of the campus' first Greek organization.
"We had to figure out a lot of things, with support from our national organization," she said. "It was exciting to be part of creating new traditions, and starting something new."
In addition to being part of something new, Piirala-Skoglund found a support system as part of the sorority. A native of Finland, she had neither family nor friends in Kokomo.
"That group of women and advisors became a substitute family for me," she said. "Being part of the founding class gave me an experience where I could get to know people and create friendships."
Those were the kinds of connections Hatt, the chapter's current archon, or president, sought as a member. She joined shortly after her mother had passed away, and she had moved from Michigan.
"I have so many amazing friends I would not have met if I was not in the sorority," she said. "These are friendships that will last a lifetime. Once you are a sister, you are always a sister."
The sorority's service projects have included raising funds for the Family Service Association of Howard County's domestic violence shelter, through the annual Take Back the Night Angel Walk, and collecting canned food for the Enactus canned food drive each year.
The service aspect led senior Laura Kasey to Phi Sigma Sigma.
"It's a good way to give back to the community," she said. "I can make more of a difference working with my sisters than I can on my own. I've built myself into a support network, and been able to help others."
Sorority membership gave alumna Barb Hall a stronger connection to IU Kokomo.. She is proud to see the chapter continue to flourish and contribute to campus life.
"It added sisterhood, friendship, and better leadership skills to my college experience," she said. "I was here when women were just starting to build interest in bringing a sorority to campus. It's amazing now to see how it has grown. Having Greek life is a huge advantage for IU Kokomo, especially with more traditional aged students enrolling."
Phi Sigma Sigma was one of the factors that drew sophomore Josselin Shafer to campus.
"I always wanted to be in a sorority, and I was so excited when I heard IU Kokomo had one," she said. "I'm getting a big college experience, without the big college. It's also a great way to get involved on campus and meet people."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.