Omega Phi Alpha: National Service Sorority

Tag Archives: Tradition

Ok, I admit it….. I was channeling this song when titling this post. It is stuck in my head!

But that has nothing to do with what I am trying to talk about!! 🙂

For this year’s national president’s project, we are “Archiving OPA.” I am in the “traditions” group and, among other topics, we are working on “families.” (Hopefully now you understand where the title and the song come in… If not, it is really not important, and you are probably even better off that way!) Although this is a little outdated, here is a link to a page about our families.

So, for this project, I collected some information from my grand-big, Liz, a founding mother. Here is what she told me….

How Our Families Began

By: Teigan McIntosh, Zeta Class

Information collected from her Grand-big: Liz New, Founding Mother

The Alpha Zeta chapter of Omega Phi Alpha at Kennesaw State Univerisyt decided to create their families at the suggestion of the sisters from Nu Chapter at Georgia Tech who were instrumental in the founding of the Alpha Zeta chapter. Among them were Heather Pritchard, Amanda Harris, Chelsea Morrisey Navo, and Megan Sheppard, as well as the VP of Expansion at the time, Ginger McGarity. They thought it would be a good way for the Alpha Zeta chapter to trace their members back through the chapter as it grew and got older as well as create a tradition for the new chapter to uphold.

During August 2006, a few weeks after the colonization retreat but before the Alphas’ rush, the founding mothers formed the families at one of their chapter meetings held in the old social science building. (The families were first presented at the Alpha’s rush.) They decided that five families would be a good idea, so they wrote down all their names on slips of paper and put them into a plastic bowl. Then, they drew them out and sorted them into five piles. The matriarch for each family was decided based on which sister was closest to graduation. (Now, the matriarch of each family is determined by oldest pledge class and then graduation date, but, in the beginning, at that time we were all in the same class.

The five founding matriarchs were: Lambda – Kelly Cantrell; Chi – Allison Carder McKay;  Tau – Janice Turner Perea; Gamma – Brandi Gilbert; Kappa – Annie Smith.

Tau was for Turner, Gamma was for Gilbert, and, if Liz New remembers correctly, Chi was for Carder.  The rest of the families discussed the letters that they wanted and decided on something together. Again, if Liz New remembers correctly, the Lambda family traded the letter Kappa to the Kappa family because the Kappa family wanted it and the Lambdas didn’t. From there, each family brainstormed collectively and came up with our own mascots, flowers, and colors that night. Liz, a Lambda, remembers that the members of her family definitely wanted the Lambda’s to be unique, so they chose lavender and teal as their colors.

The family mascots, colors, and flowers are as follows:

  • Lambda – Colors: lavender and teal; Mascot: giraffe; Flower: purple tulip
  • Chi – Colors: purple and gold; Mascot: dinosaur; Flower: purple orchid
  • Tau- Colors: light pink and brown; Mascot: turtle; Flower: calla lilly
  • Gamma- Colors: hot pink and lime green; Mascot: teddy bear; Flower: pink gerber daisy
  • Kappa- Colors: yellow and green; Mascot: Kangaroo; Flower: sunflower


As a follow-up to Light the Night, I received the nicest thank you note from Stacy! I couldn’t begin to paraphrase it, and I figured that by typing it, the words would lose some of their authenticity, so here is a scanned copy of the note…

Maybe it was an emotional day for me, but this note had me in tears. Thank you, Stacy!! Receiving this note from you really meant a lot to me, and I know that the other people you sent thank you notes to felt the same way that I did when I found it in my mailbox.

Light the Night is truly an Omega Phi Alpha memory that I will treasure always. “Why?” you might ask, “Wasn’t it just a walk?” Well, yes… It was “just” a walk, but it was SO much more than that. I loved meeting your family, especially your mom, and I was so happy that they were all able to attend this service project. The personal connection really made the project special to me, making it one of my favorites. Also, the amount of people involved and the amount of money raised by all of the teams is simply astonishing. This was in the email sent by Light the Night on November 10th:

Thanks to you we have raised over $1.2 million for blood cancer research and patient services!

Also, I am excited to do this project again next year and the next and make it an Alpha Zeta tradition! 🙂

Perhaps I should explain our traditions for those who don’t know before I go any further….

Within our chapter of Omega Phi Alpha, we are divided into five families: Kappa, Gamma, Lambda, Chi, and Tau. When you get a big sister, the family that she is in becomes your family as well. Each family has their own animal mascot and colors as well as a family flower and family slogan. For example, I am in the Lambda family. Our animal is the giraffe, our colors are lavender and teal, our flower is the purple tulip, and our slogan is, “We tower above the rest,” which, by the way, was printed on the back of the shirts that I made for reveal. After pinning, the membership director, also the pledge mom, uses our preference sheets and interest sheets to match all of the active sisters up with their littles from the new pledge class. When she is done, she secretly lets everyone know who their little/s is/are and big little week begins! During big little week, tradition holds that the big sisters leave secret gifts for their littles. We also had an “” account that we could use to secretly email our littles. To me, this was the most exciting yet most stressful part. I loved being able to talk to my little during this time, but I was so afraid that I would accidentally sign my name or give away my identity in some other way. (Mei Mei said that when she read one of my messages out loud her roommate, Emily, could tell that it was me!) We also have a Big/Little dinner during the middle of Big/Little week which ends with reveal- the event that happened today! Reveal was my favorite memory from last year, and I was extremely excited for today. I was so happy that both my big, Kelly, and my grand-big, Liz, could attend. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself…

This week I have learned that being a big sister is hard yet very rewarding. I say that it is hard because all of the things that you have to keep secret! (I almost let some things slip.) And it is so rewarding to finally be able to tell my littles how much I love them face to face and see their smiles. Family and Big/Little stuff is so much fun!

Even though I started making gifts for my littles this summer before I even knew who they were, I had a lot to finish up this week! I had their pledge books to put in the cube, the only required gift, their secret gifts, that I made mostly myself, and their reveal gifts, also mostly DIY, not to mention the Lambda family shirts that I had to take care of for everyone. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish it all! Here is a picture of the gifts that I made for my littles to put in the cube this week:

At the traditional Big/Little dinner on Wednesday at Los Reyes, I sat by one of my littles, Mei Mei. It was so hard not to give my identity as her big away! I also sat with Lauren, Sydney, Priscilla, and Brittany K., and I got to know them all a little better. (I was so happy to welcome Brittany K. into the Lambda family!)

Reveal today was amazing! I was so nervous that I had already given away my identity to my littles, which was true- they both said that they knew it was me for one reason or another- but they both still seemed very happy when I revealed to them that I was their big sister!

We held our reveal outside at the gazebo near the Social Science building. To do our reveal, all of the big sisters made flip books with five clues about themselves to give to each of their littles. All of the bigs stood on the top of the big grassy stairs while the littles came up to the bottom of the stairs one at a time and read out the clues on their flip book. The clues started out generally with classifications such as, ‘My big has blonde hair,” and became progressively more specific as they went along. As each clue was read aloud, the bigs came down a step so that by the end only one girl was left with her little!

I think that this way of revealing the bigs and littles worked really well, and it was a lot of fun for everyone. I thought that it would take longer than it did, but I am not complaining because that meant that we got to go to lunch earlier!

After reveal, we gave presents to our littles and took lots of pictures.

Then we went to lunch. The Lambda and Gamma families went to O’Charleys near campus. I had such a great time today, and I love my Omega Phi Alpha family!

I LOVE MY LITTLES, Jennifer and Mei Mei!!!