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How I Learned 3 of the 9 Key Values in My First Year as a ZTA by Grace Kohlhof

The Nine Key Values of Zeta Tau Alpha are the guiding principles and the ideals of the sorority I call home. But I didn't realize how meaningful they can be when you learn them from real world experience with your sisters by your side. The Nine Key Values are more than just superficial words said in our rituals, they’re what Zeta Tau Alpha holds with pride and strives to improve. What follows are the stories of how I gained a new understanding of a handful of The Nine Key Values.


It wasn’t too long after we were initiated that we were encouraged to be not just involved in the goings on of ZTA but also lead some. My pledge class was so excited to start filling out our PC and EC applications. We all wanted to have leadership positions in ZTA and to make something new from the positions we would receive. When I got my current position, Internal Events Chairman, I remember getting overwhelmed with the new information and later realized that everyone else who had gotten new positions felt the same. As time went by and we got experience, I watched myself and my friends in other positions blossom into the amazing leaders our predecessors knew we could be. We saw each other making giant strides in our newfound leadership and doing things that, at the time, seemed nearly impossible. While leadership at first seems daunting, there is something in you that your sisters see, trust them, and trust yourself.


One morning I woke up feeling sick. This wasn’t your usual sick, this was a sickness that you just knew would mean an email to your professors. It got worse and worse to the point where I could do nothing but just lay in my room and listen to my heart pounding in my head. I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital. On a whim, I called one of my closest sisters in ZTA. She picked me up and sat with me in the ER till three in the morning. We would laugh at the doctors and compare everything to Grey’s Anatomy in between talk of classes and boy problems. She held my hand when I was scared (literally and figuratively because despite the fact I’m in college, I’m still afraid of needles.) and she laughed when I needed to smile. A friend is never really a friend until they're willing to laugh at bad nurse jokes with you for 5 hours. I had never really thought about how important loyalty was until it was what got me through that night. My sisters have taught me that sharing a bond means we have a promise made to each other to be there through thick and thin.


The recruitment process will always be intimidating and scary. I had family who had been involved in Greek life so while I did have their advice, it still felt like I was in uncharted territory. The one thing I clung to during this time was that I knew I had to be myself more than anything. If I was going to join a sorority, I wanted to join one that wanted to know THE REAL ME. I didn’t want to act like something I wasn’t because then I wouldn’t find the place that was meant to be my home. When I found out I was offered a bid to ZTA I promptly danced around and called my mother. While I was excited, I was still scared. “What if they realize they don’t like me?” “What if I don’t fit in with everyone?” I in no way felt out of the woods. One of the first things I did with my pledge class and other members of ZTA was take part in the New Member meetings. When we first learned of the Nine Key Values and talked about “Being rather than Seeming” my heart skipped a beat. In my head, this was the sign I needed. It’s like I remembered what I told myself during recruitment. If I was going to make ZTA my home, I was going to be myself more than anything else. I’ve learned that being yourself and encouraging others to do the same are the best ways to make real and deep connections.

Zeta Love,

Grace Kohlhof

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