A Guiding Light
Written by Ellie Wheeler (MC '19)
When I was younger, school did not come easy to me. I struggled to pay attention in class, homework was absolutely dreadful, and I found myself wondering why I couldn’t wrap my head around subject matter that seemed to be so easy to others.
It wasn’t until I attended high school at Ursuline Academy- an all girl’s school- that I understood the importance of having a supportive and empowering group of women around me to push me to become my best self academically, athletically, and holistically. After years of hard work, implementing a revolutionary tool called “studying”, and constantly learning habitual practices from my peers, I was accepted into the University of Florida, class of 2023.
As excited as I was to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a Gator, I kept having hindering thoughts: What if I won’t find that same supportive group of women to encourage me to become better every day? What if I cannot keep up with the course rigor? Is college too much for me? Am I making the right decision? Let’s face it: some of these are extremely realistic thoughts that some of us experience daily even while in college. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that feelings of anxiety, fear, and hesitation are completely valid, and training ourselves to embrace these emotions and learn from them can be very useful.
As Fall 2019 began, these thoughts of anxiety, fear, and hesitation soared as I began Panhellenic Recruitment. The moment I walked into the doors of Chi Omega, however, these emotions that I never thought would leave my stomach, vanished as I met some of the most amazing women, who I now consider to be my best friends and sisters. As soon as I walked out of the house, I instantly called my mother crying, as I had found that group of women my heart was yearning for. Her response was simply, “Most of my favorite people happen to be Chi Omegas”, and that was all I needed to hear.
My freshman year of college, I changed my major not one… not two… but three times. I was in a constant internal battle of figuring out what I wanted, navigating being a freshman on campus, and trying to keep up my previous study habits while creating new ones. There was one constant in my life on campus, and that was the guidance and support I received from my sisters in Chi Omega. My sisters in Chi Omega are patient, kind, understanding, and always ready to giggle with me when I change my life discourse for the millionth time. My sisters teach me every single day how to become more studious, more habitual, but more importantly- my sisters help guide me to become holistically myself. I wanted a group of supportive women coming into the University of Florida, but what Eta Delta has given me is far more valuable than anything I could have ever asked for. The values that Chi Omega as a chapter, and more specifically the values my sisters reflect daily, are a guiding light in my life.
As a Marine Sciences major with specialized research in crustacean disease ecology, my sisters are always excited to hear my next fish fact, my sometimes hilarious animal encounters, and my sustainability advice as Sustainability Chair of the chapter. As I have recently decided to take the LSAT and pursue law school (yes, this may actually be the millionth life change I have made), I am lucky enough to share this exciting experience with a few of my amazing sisters in my Member Class.
I am forever indebted to Chi Omega for guiding me to become the woman I am today. My strongest values, my embracement of emotions, and my strictly habitual yet holistic lifestyle I attribute to the lessons that Chi Omega and my sisters have taught me each and every day. Thank you Chi Omega, for being My Guiding Light.