Angelos - Spring 2017

My KD Story

2017-04-13 02:12:18

ARTICLE BY SHERRY EGAN ANDERSON, ANGELOS EDITOR; VIDEO INTERVIEW BY KRISTEN ARCHER, SENIOR MULTIMEDIA MANAGER A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE Sarah entered the government hospital filled with nervous energy. Already she'd been off in her expectation. The facility she had imagined before arriving in Tanzania was "5-star" compared to the building where she would spend her summer working. She and another female college student were led to a room about the size of a typical American bedroom where 12 women were side by side in various stages of labor and delivery. She was worried about the language barrier, never mind that she had no prior experience in obstetrics. How would she be able to help these patients if she couldn't speak Swahili? She soon realized that a smile and a gently placed hand could calm the women giving birth – and herself. Sarah Price, Delta Gamma- Western Kentucky, spent last summer working and learning in Tanzania through a public health program sponsored by the Kentucky Institute for International Studies. A scholarship she received from the Kappa Delta Foundation made it possible for her to use the funds she would have needed for tuition to pay for her study-abroad experience. Before going to Tanzania, Sarah says there was always that little bit of nagging doubt in her mind questioning if she would have what it takes to be a physician, but on that first day, more than 8,000 miles from home, she found her confidence. She says: "We immediately jumped in and did whatever we could . . . It was not at all what I expected to be doing, but it was one of the greatest blessings . . . The first time I got to see them deliver a baby was that first moment for me that I realized I was where I was supposed to be . . . It gave me a glimpse into what I will hopefully be doing as a career one day." How she would get to Tanzania also had been on Sarah's mind for a long time. She was aware of other WKU students who had previously taken part in the program and knew it would be a great experience, but, Sarah says, "That's a big amount of money for a college woman to be able to set aside." In fall 2015, her sophomore year, she applied for an academic scholarship from the Kappa Delta Foundation and became one of 51 undergraduates who were awarded a total of $99,500 in scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year. With this scholarship going toward her tuition, Sarah was able to redirect her savings to the study-abroad experience. As a member of Delta Gamma's chapter council, Sarah was at the National Collegiate Training Academy in February 2016 when the scholarship recipients who were in attendance heard their names announced. She says: " For me, it went back to hearing [former National President Beth Langford] speak at convention the year before about 'if not for KD' because immediately in my head, that was what clicked . . . the things I learned about myself in Tanzania and the confidence I built while I was serving there are the things that will push me for the rest of my career. If not for KD and the Founders Scholarship, I wouldn't have had those experiences." Sarah says her parents raised her and her brother to give their time and talents to help others, and in high school, she volunteered with the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association and her church. At WKU, Sarah felt an immediate connection with Kappa Delta and the women of Delta Gamma Chapter. "I knew that serving others was my passion, and the philanthropies here were something I fell in love with during recruitment," she says. Only a few weeks after her Initiation, Sarah was elected vice president-community service, which would be a big job for any collegian to take on, let alone a freshman who had yet to participate in the chapter's largest fundraiser: Shamrock Shootout, a basketball event held in the spring that annually raises about $25,000 for the prevention of child abuse. Sarah had to hit the ground running. "It was hard coming in as a freshman," she says, "but by the time I finished that position, I really understood my abilities and understood all of the things I actually was capable of [accomplishing]." Shamrock Shootout and a fall Shamrock Event, KD Shenanigans, combined raised roughly $40,000, more funds than ever before. Sarah says when she doubted herself, her KD sisters supported her, saying, "You're doing a great job," or "Have you thought about trying this?" She learned to take in what others were suggesting and then "power forward" confidently. "As Kappa Deltas, we're constantly encouraged and told we can do whatever we set our minds to," Sarah says. "On WKU's campus, we're referred to as the 'green army' because we're always strong, we're always together, we're always working incredibly hard." During her sophomore year, Sarah was elected again to the council, this time to serve as vice president-operations. She wanted to learn more about the administrative "nuts and bolts" of how the chapter operates, but she also gleaned insight into the interpersonal side of chapter business. " I learned the importance of stepping back and taking in everyone's abilities and talents around [me] and that sometimes it's OK to fail because you can't do it all on your own." She enjoyed pulling in as many members as possible to help the chapter meet its goals. Seeing where sisters thrived and how their strengths were developed was her favorite aspect of the VP- 0 position. In Tanzania, she saw there is more than one way to get a job done. The two midwives who worked in the labor and delivery ward were "all about that girl power," Sarah says. "They were so gracious to show us how to do different things and encouraged us that we were capable of helping them with things that we may not have felt comfortable with before." In contrast to typical American procedures, the Tanzanian women left the hospital with their newborns only a few hours after delivery. Pain medications, if needed, weren't available. Sarah describes it as seeing the "raw side" of medicine. " It is a completely different world, and that was one of the hardest adjustments because we weren't there to save the day," Sarah says. "We were there to work alongside them and learn from what they were doing, their best practices . . . They do things so differently but also correctly." One day Sarah visited a burgeoning orphanage that housed 30 children beyond its intended capacity of 60. " The day was absolutely eye-opening for me," she says. "Growing up with a great family and friends, I always had someone to love on me, but that's not something they get every day." She recalls a little girl who took her hand and then her heart. "Those pictures from that day are something I will always hold dear," Sarah says. "I'll never forget that sweet little girl grabbing me from the moment we got off the bus or all those kiddos running around just wanting someone to love on them . . . Whether they remember us or not, I know that day made a difference to them." Sarah and her fellow female students also made a positive difference in the lives of the women they worked with and helped at the hospital by serving as role models. She was told few Tanzanian women work outside of their homes. "They saw that women in America are getting out and working, and they have just as much potential as we do to do the same," Sarah says. Since her experience in the labor and delivery ward in Tanzania, Sarah is now interested in maternal fetal medicine and working as an OB-GYN physician, a career she says goes hand in hand with KD's platform of building confidence in women. "From the moment you come home on Bid Day, sisters in KD are constantly encouraging you to be a better woman and encourage women around you. "You hear alumnae and older chapter members talk about 'KD will change you,' " Sarah says. " I wasn't here to have an organization change me. I wanted an organization that was going to bring something out in me that I hadn't seen before . . . While I was in Tanzania, I saw myself become a different type of independent than what I had ever been before. I saw a new side of myself being brave. "What we value and we embody here goes so much farther than just your four years as a collegian," Sarah says. " It should be something that you take with you because it's not just about being in a sorority in college. It's about taking those meaningful things and experiences and applying them to everything you do . . . I always will be a Kappa Delta . . . As an alumnae member, I hope I will remember everything that Kappa Delta gave me . . . and will keep in my heart that desire to give back."

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