guest post: Be The Joy

Lauren, one of my high school friends (she was two years younger than me and on the dance team with me) started her own non-profit organization. She is such an amazing and beautiful young woman, inside and out, and I asked her to share her story with you!

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Be The Joy, Inc
 



Starting a non-profit organization has taught me responsibility, boldness, empathy, and true joy! It has been such a blessing, and I love sharing the story on how Be The Joy transformed from a small idea to a true movement for positive change.
 


It all started in 2009 when I first went to Uganda on a mission trip with my family through my church.  It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the people there- their smiles were contagious and their welcome was genuine. As I walked up and down the dusty streets in the ghetto, I was greeted by women with hugs and kisses…and jewelry. Every hut I entered was filled with beautiful jewelry made out of paper beads. The women spend all day making the beads out of magazines and other trash, transforming them into beautiful necklaces and bracelets.
 


During that first trip I also met a young girl named Filda, who was 13 at the time. She was such a strong, joyful girl. She needed someone to pay for her school fees, since the fees can be up to $125 per trimester, and most of the country lives on less than $1 per day. I promised her I would find a way to sponsor her, and give her the hope she needed.
 


On the plane ride back home, I kept thinking- how could I help these women and girls I had met? The answer was right around my wrist. I would sell their jewelry in the US in order to sustain their small crafts businesses, while also raising money for girls’ school fees through the profits.
 



I had brought back some jewelry with me, so I started selling it to my friends. Everyone I showed loved the unique colors and styles. I immediately figured out a way to get more jewelry to the states, and my little business took off. I started having trunk shows in my friends houses at Texas A&M, setting up booths at benefit concerts, and built a website to sell online. Not long after this I officially became a 501 (c) 3 Non-profit, and business flourished. I was featured in several magazines at A&M and in the surrounding area. People were eager to offer support to the women in girls in Uganda who needed it the most.
 


3 years later, I am sponsoring 34 girls in middle school and high school, and 4 girls at the University in Kampala. I have been back to Uganda twice, where I get to visit all the girls who are in school because of Be The Joy. Their hearts are so beautiful, and know that their future is bright because of their opportunity to go to school. Also, women from the ghetto who make the jewelry are now able to provide for their families because of my business, and it is so rewarding to share their talents across countries.
 



Be The Joy started simply with my desire to help these beautiful Ugandan women and girls, and it has grown into a business that has changed my life and had a huge impact! There are times when the road has been rough, but it is worth it when you look into the faces of girls like Filda who are filled with joy because of the opportunity they have been given.
 


I hope that one day Be The Joy can support an entire community of women and a whole school of girls. After that, my dream would be to open a girls’ school! Until then, I will focus on sponsoring more and more girls, while supporting the women who create the jewelry.
 


If you have an idea or passion that you would like to pursue through a non-profit.- go for it! It is such a rewarding experience and you will be surprised how many people are willing support a good cause and offer help. No idea is too small to become a movement. You never know how you can be the joy in someone else’s life!
 


To support girls’ education and womens’ businesses in Uganda, please go to www.bethejoy.com !

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Thanks Lauren!

I love my Be The Joy Shirt! Comfy, cute and for a great cause!

St
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Rush: party party party

Hi PNMS! Let’s discuss parties! Many thanks to the Duchess for having me, so sorry but since I am a current recruitment chair I can’t give my name but I CAN tell you that my university has one of the largest greek life organizations in the United States and it is south of the Mason Dixon line!
So let’s get down to business: Rush Parties. 
Each school has different ways of scheduling parties (morning vs evening, 1 day vs 2 days) so I plan on talking about parties in the general sense of their “types.” Parties I will be covering today are 1) the open house, 2) philanthropy day, 3) skit night, 4) pref night. Some universities throw in a house tour or financial day but those that do dedicate an entire day to those topics are in the minority so I will not be covering those. If you have any questions pertaining to those specific days just email the Duchess and she can contact me, we have to go through her since I cannot give out my contact information due to Rush. 
Here we go!
Open House day usually means you will visit every single house for a short period. This day is long and if you’re in the south it’s sweltering. These parties are the shortest of the week and in my opinion the worst. I hate having to make a decision on a PNM within 10-15 minutes. But that’s the nature of the beast so best foot forward. While it is the current member’s job to keep the conversation going you want to have a couple conversation topics in your back pocket. A few of my favorite are: Getting involved in student organizations on campus, first football game of the year and (she asked me to throw this in) the Duchess’ personal back up for this year, The Olympics. Try to stay away from what you did in high school and what you did this summer, everyone talks about these things and they get old: fast. Plus the member you are talking to has already memorized your resume and chances are she has something in common with you. If she brings up high school or summer by all means follow along but you want to bring up other interesting things! 
For my lovely ladies in the sweltering heat please do not be embarrassed if you are a tad sweaty when you walk in the house, everyone is hot and the current members know you will be “glistening” because they had to go through it too. Make sure to bring water in your bag, blotting papers, and go to Target right now and purchase a mini battery operated fan. Everyone will look at you with envy and then show up the next day with the same thing. Trust me. 

Philanthropy day is when the different sororities tell you about their national and local philanthropies they support. Every single member is incredibly dedicated to their service and the best thing you can do on these days is to ask questions about the fundraisers they put on during the year and to be interested in the facts they present. Some chapters have a small craft to do while they educate you, some play a slide show and some have people talk to you. Whatever the day holds please act with respect because every single girl in that chapter has been touched by their philanthropy and they will take any slight personally. 
If you have a personal connection to the chapter’s philanthropy this is the perfect day to bring that up. Please do not make up a “grandmother” who received the Girl Scout Gold Award, a summer trip to help kids learn to read, or work with terminally ill children. You can “stretch” a connection. I had a friend who’s best friends mother died of breast cancer who spoke about how the disease affected her friend and through her friend she saw the need for research. That is perfectly fine, but please do not make things up.

Skit night is probably the chapter’s favorite night! The women who are performing for you have worked very hard for weeks so enjoy it! They are usually filled with funny sketches, amazing dances and beautiful singing. The member who is “assigned” to you on that specific night will be watching you so make sure to show your emotion: laugh, gasp, clap etc. The women who are not in the skit offer a great opportunity to see which parts they like the best. They have seen this skit before so some of the laughter or yelling will be sort of tepid when compared to the parts that they like the best! Those are the times when the laughter is incredibly genuine and the clapping and “woo hoo’s” are louder! Pick up on those times because you can discuss them after the skit!
Make sure to compliment some part of the show. Like I said the women put a lot of extra time into this and it is a big source of pride for the chapters. I do not ever recommend lying to the member you are talking to, but if the skit you just say was particularly funny or creative (more so than the others you saw) tell them! Please do not over do it but a well placed compliment goes a long way!

Pref Night is the last night of parties. These parties are the longest and sometimes include refreshments. Please eat them! Usually the women are not supposed to eat unless you do and I remember loving when my PNMs would start to eat their dessert when I was rushing them! When you are picked up at the door on Pref Night you will usually recognize the member who brings you in. This girl probably scored you high on a previous day and wanted to see you again! This is the time to ask any lingering questions you have. So you can be sure to get a feel for the house. This is what I stretch to every PNM I ever have contact with. The best house for you might not necessarily be the “best” house on campus, the “smartest” house on campus or the “most fun” house on campus. You want to be in a house where you feel at home. I know this sounds cheesy but you will notice it by Pref Night. There is going to be one house where you feel the most comfortable and where you feel like you “click” with all the members you have talked to. This is the house you want.
You are allowed to tell the member how you feel. If this is house for you tell them that. Tell them why you like the house, if you have already made your decision and anything else you are feeling. No member is allowed to give you an “oral bid” which you will find out about during your Recruitment Orientation so please do not try to ‘trick’ them into making one. 
The best advice I want to give you about Recruitment is to be yourself because then the perfect house for you will become obvious. 
Thank you so much Duchess! Good Luck to all the PNMs!
~
Thanks so much for the wonderful post love! Don’t forget to check out the other Rush posts! Don’t know what to wear to the parties our Recruitment Chair just talked about? Then check out the what to wear post by Cait from Southern Curls and Pearls! Other Rush posts: Rush 101 and Rush first impressions
Look for next week’s Rush post, the top ten tips from ten different recruitment chairs around the nation!

Life In: College Station

HOWDY!!!

My name is Patsy and currently I live in good ol’ College Station, TX. But more importantly I’m a proud graduate of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2011! WHOOP! 
I was so excited when my dear friend Katherine (AKA Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Plumewood) asked me to write a post for her blog! I can’t wait to share with you a little bit of the south and College Station, TX  home of Texas A&M University. 
First things first, Katherine has asked that I answer a few questions. So, let’s get that out of the way, shall we?
1) Who are you?
Well I believe we have already answered that one…
2) How do you know Katherine?
I met Katherine when we swam on a summer league swim team together in middle school.
GO SHARKS!
We then later went to high school together and became close in our senior year. After high school we both attended Texas A&M and then lived together sophomore year of college.
3) HomeTown?
Austin, TX
4) Where do you live now?
College Station, TX
5) How did you get from #3 to #4?
Moved here for college…..haven’t left yet…
Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about TEXAS! No, we do not ride horses to school. No, we did not learn how to lasso in PE.  Yes, we eat ranch dressing on everything! Here in College Station life revolves around Texas A&M. We celebrate a lot of traditions (and by a lot I mean if something happens twice it becomes a tradition) and are very proud of our history. Katherine and I experienced a couple of these traditions together including Midnight Yell (a “Yell” practice held at midnight the night before every home game), standing for an ENTIRE football game in direct sunlight in the wonderful Texas heat (the 12th man always has to be ready), and enjoying a sandwich from Blue Baker on a Sunday afternoon (a local bakery/deli).

(Krista and I at my ring dunk. She lived with Katherine and I. As an Aggie, when you get your Aggie Ring you dunk it in a pitcher of beer…like I said…traditions)

I live here in town with my adorable golden retriever, Mell. I adopted her a year ago and she is a nut! She and I have had many adventures in the last year and she is my partner in crime. We love to go for walks at the nature trails in Lick Creek Park and swim at Lake Bryan.

(Me and Mell on adoption day)

Well that gives you a little look into a life in College Station, TX. Thank you so much for letting me share a little bit of my life with you!

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Thanks Patsy! Love you!

big news…

Guess What…?

That’s right! I am moving back to TEXAS!!! In exactly one month from yesterday classes start at SMU Dedman School of Law and yours truly will be in them! Texas are you ready for me to come back home because I am!

rush: outfits

Hey girls!
My name is Caitlin and I blog over at Southern Curls & Pearls. I just graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, where I spent the best four years of my life as a Kappa Delta and made the most amazing friends I’ve ever had! I can honestly say that rushing was the best decision I ever made… however, I went into rush not knowing a THING about it, and it was definitely very overwhelming and intimidating. You can avoid a lot of pre-rush anxiety by being prepared and knowing what to expect. That’s why I’m here today… to talk about rush outfits!
As much as it sucks, you’re only going to have about 15 minutes the first day to make an impression… and a huge part of that is your appearance. What you wear and how you present yourself matters a lot, since they can’t get to know everything about you (and how awesome you are) in such a short amount of time. Let’s start with the basics: personal hygiene! Make sure your hair is brushed, your teeth are cleaned, your makeup looks natural (not overdone), and you have on deodorant. It may sound really dumb, but believe me, you’d hate to be known as the girl with stinky breath or body odor (yuck!).
Your university’s rush may be a little different than UNC’s, but we have four different rounds… which means you have to have four different outfits prepared! Generally, each day gets a little bit dressier, but let’s go through the rounds together.
Round One: Open House
This day is the most fun and relaxed, so you’ll want to wear something casual but nice. This is your first chance to make a good impression on each house, so wear something you feel confident in! Keep in mind that you’ll be visiting ALL the houses, so you’re going to be doing a lot of walking… wear comfortable shoes! Jack Rogers are a good option because they’re comfortable to walk in but still look really nice. DO NOT wear flip flops!!! I repeat, do not wear flip flops. Another thing to think about when planning your outfit: it’s going to be hot outside and you’re probably going to sweat. If your outfit is going to show sweat rings underneath your arms, don’t wear it. One more piece of advice for round one: the best accessory you can wear is a smile – it shows you’re friendly and confident and those are qualities that the girls admire.
A pair of bright, trendy shorts paired with a nice blouse is a good option for round one. This outfit will keep you cool but is still super classy and cute!
Round Two: Skit
During this round, each house puts on a skit they come up with themselves, and you get to spend more time meeting girls. My suggestion for round two is to wear casual tops, a skirt or pants, and sandals. The attire should be slightly nicer than the last round. You’ll still be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you keep those comfortable shoes!
I picked out a Lilly Pulitzer skirt for this round, as well as a hot pink statement necklace and a chic clutch. Lilly is definitely a sorority girl staple!
Round Three: House Tours
This round, you’ll visit with each house for an extended period of time. You may be getting a tour of the house, or just talking with more girls. I would definitely wear a sundress this round, or a nice skirt and top combo. Wear dressy sandals or casual wedges.  
For this round, I picked this beautiful hi-low hem skirt and paired it with a bold tank. I love that this look is ladylike and gorgeous but still “trendy.” The jewels on the shoes and earrings add more pops of color. I want this outfit for myself!
Round Four: Preference Night
Pref Night is definitely the best round of rush. By now, you’ll have narrowed it down to a few houses. If you’re at a house on Pref Night, it’s because they want you!! This is a very special night… you’ll take part in a ceremony at each house, and this round will allow you to really connect with the chapters and determine in which sorority you would be happiest. For this round, I suggest wearing a dress or formal dinner attire, dressy sandals or heels (this is by far the dressiest night). If heels hurt your feet to walk from house to house, bring sandals to wear between rounds, and switch them out before you get to each house (I definitely did this!).
For pref night, I picked a gorgeous neon pink cocktail dress and paired it with this beautiful, classic Kate Spade necklace. Wedges make the outfit slightly more casual.
Before I leave you, heed my advice about what not to wear: Anything too short, too tight, or too revealing. You want to send a positive message to these girls… that you’re a classy girl, NOT a floozy! If you would wear the outfit to a nightclub, then you definitely shouldn’t wear it to rush.
Lastly, the best advice I can give is to BE YOURSELF! Being yourself includes how you dress, as well. Whatever you wear, make sure that it expresses your personal style. If you hate Lilly Pulitzer, then don’t wear it to rush! You want to end up in a house where you fit in… and to do this you have to put your true self forward.
Good luck to all of you! If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to email me at {southerncurlsandpearls@gmail.com}.
Thanks so much for having me, duchess!
Love, Cait 
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Thanks Cait!!

Don’t miss out on all the other rush posts including How to make a good first impression and rush 101