A KAPPA DELTA ALUMNA, MOM OF TWO KD DAUGHTERS AND A UNIV ERS IT Y PRE S IDENT WITH A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE SHARES HER KD EXPERIENCE BY MIM LINDSAY RUNEY, LP.D. EPSILON TAU-CLEMSON In 1985, 1 sat in the backseat of my family's Buick station wagon headed to college with a knot in my stomach and dreams for my future. I wanted to achieve academically, make friends and readily adjust to the college experience. The reality was that I knew a handful of people at Clemson University's 13,000-student campus, and I knew even less about living on my own. My big 1980s hair, small frame and high school sense of fashion made me a typical college freshman. My father was a first-generation college graduate; my mom had gone to junior college; my grandparents never finished high school. We drove a full 20 minutes to my new dorm where I would share a room with a total stranger. Within hours of my arrival I got lost trying to find the dining hall. I was quickly overwhelmed by academic demands and the need to balance multiple and diverse activities. The early weeks of the fall semester brought calm among the confusion when I participated in sorority recruitment. The sisters of Kappa Delta stood apart from the rest, and it was during recruitment that my Kappa Delta story begins. I witnessed inspiring and meaningful connections among a group of enthusiastic and diverse young women. As an only child, I quickly realized the comfort I felt among the group was the sisterhood destined to build my confidence, give support to my dreams and inspire me to achieve academically and personally. I soon found my home in Kappa Delta. On the KD floor, we lived together, cried and laughed together, studied for exams, and helped each other with an extra hand or an ear to listen. On occasion, we enjoyed road trips, and on fall semester Saturdays, we were perched in our Kappa Delta sorority block of Clemson's football stadium cheering our orange-clad Tigers. We raised funds for the prevention of child abuse, recognizing that civic engagement could make a difference in the world around us. Formals, late night pizza, rigorous classes and boyfriends all came and went, but our circle remained intact. When we were together as sisters, there was no doubt that together we were one KD. My college experience had fostered my personal and intellectual growth in ways I had not imagined. I had never experienced meaningful and rewarding leadership in high school, but through support and encouragement of my sisters, I contributed to our circle as editor and chapter president. I came to understand the importance of giving to the communities around me and to thrive on the challenge of becoming a better person through the highest ideals. I found a quiet confidence within and strength in those around me. I remember sitting in the open-air amphitheater outside Clemson's R.M. Cooper Library final exam week in December 1988. 1 wanted to stay in college forever. What would allow me to take my college experiences, values and standards and transform them into a career that would capture my passion for learning and leading? My quiet moment of introspection turned to the same excitement I felt the day I first knew I wanted to be a Kappa Delta: I wanted to work in higher education. I soon landed a full-time job in communications with an adjunct teaching assignment at a small branch campus of Johnson & Wales University (JWU). I will skip the resume review but will just share that 10 years after leaving Clemson, I received a master's degree and again went back to school to earn a doctorate in 2009. Today I am campus president and chief operating officer of the four-campus, 14,000-student system based in Providence, Rhode Island. As a college president, I help to create an educational experience and home to students from across the globe. It is no coincidence that civic engagement appears distinctly within JWU's guiding principles, and our faculty, staff and students help those in need in multiple ways. With KD still a part of me, I find myself emphasizing institutional values and guiding principles, and I continue to set high standards and challenge others to do the same. My campus does not have a Kappa Delta chapter, and I wondered what KD is like today. Would my own daughters choose KD at their colleges, and would their experiences reflect my own? In 2013, when my older daughter, Mary Katherine, joined KD's Theta Alpha Chapter at Quinnipiac University, I began to recognize our circle of sisterhood again through my own daughter's eyes. I tried hard not to influence her sorority choice, emphasizing how chapters differ from campus to campus and change over time. I knew the day Mary Katherine left for college she was nervous and somewhat intimidated. When she called home to say she was joining KD, she had that same excitement in her voice that I had in 1985. By her junior year, she had blossomed into a young woman. Her 5-foot frame is deceiving. She has a large heart and deep soul, and I knew she was enjoying every minute of her Kappa Delta experience. So much so that she embraced the proposition of tackling the job of chapter president. Mary Katherine might be smarter than I, delving into a master's degree right after her undergraduate studies. Today, she teaches high school math and coaches volleyball. In 2016, my second daughter, Kimberly Anne, became a KD sister in Epsilon Tau, at my alma mater. Kimberly towers a full 7 or so inches over Mary Katherine and differs in many respects from her sister. In the ways that matter most, they – and we – are the same. In a single year, Kimberly has gained confidence, developed leadership skills, and been inspired to pursue a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Since 1985, Clemson's student population has grown to almost 23,000. Clemson's Kappa Delta chapter moved to a different dormitory. The chapter room has been renovated several times, and the nautilus replaced the katydid, but the sisterhood remains the same. When I was a collegian, I thought our sisters made Kappa Delta great. Now I know that KD made us great by inspiring each of us to find ourselves and our passion in life.
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