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Living Our Values and Inspiring Others

by Anne Hohenberger, Beta Eta-Texas, Foundation Director: Lectureships in Values and Ethics 

Doing good every day seems easy enough, and I’d always thought it meant serving in a prescribed way, like helping raise money, driving awareness or giving my time. But what if doing good also means living by your values, and influencing others to be better versions of themselves, too? 

As the newly appointed Foundation Director: Lectureships in Values and Ethics, I was eager to learn more about the various Lectureships at our chapters and hear from the carefully curated speakers, but my experience thus far has surpassed my expectations. Our Delta Gamma chapters have been fortunate to hear first-person stories from bold, grounded and successful women who have shared a message of setting high ideals, living up to high standards, advocating for themselves and others and treating all people with respect. These speakers also command our respect. I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on some of our Lectureship speakers’ messages and want to share what I’ve learned from these strong, accomplished women.  

Princess Sarah Culberson, hosted by Beta Eta-Texas 

Adopted and raised by a loving (white) family in West Virginia, a then young-adult Sarah Culberson learned that her birth father had been an international student who had returned to Sierra Leone after completing his studies in the U.S. So she traveled to meet him in 2004, where she discovered that she was related to African royalty, with the status of a princess.  

As I sat in the student union ballroom on the University of Texas campus and heard Princess Sarah speak, I was captivated by the energy and enthusiasm she projected. While in Sierra Leone, Sarah saw first-hand the challenges impacting the daily lives of the Bumpe people. She emphasized feeling compelled to make things better for the community after connecting with her extended family. I couldn’t have imagined that reading at night could be a dangerous activity, but I learned from Sarah that kerosene lamps are a source of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Bumpe community. 

With making a difference for others and doing good in mind, Sarah co-founded the non-profit Sierra Leone Rising. Today, the organization fosters quality education, supports female empowerment and ensures public health safety in that country. The mission has expanded, and more good continues with the community to implement a bicycle program, create a solar lamp program and launch a computer lab. Ultimately,  Sarah challenged each of us to strive to be our best selves and to make a difference for others. 

Aly Raisman, hosted by Beta Theta-Durham 

Nina King, vice president and athletic director at Duke University, held an informal interview with Aly Raisman in Page Auditorium for the Beta Theta-Durham Lectureship event. After sharing her background, describing the rigorous training and discussing her experience as a competitive gymnast, Aly focused on her advocacy work. Aly is the author of the book, “Fierce.” In it, she describes her journey as a member of the ‘Fierce Five’ US women’s gymnastics team, the team that brought home the gold at the 2012 London Olympics, and how she began to recognize and adhere to her values. She also had an open Q&A with audience members.  

Beta Theta junior Emily Robers, director of Lectureships shared, “Aly was phenomenal. Her message about empowerment was strong. She talked a lot about her advocacy, too”. Raisman has accomplished a lot, from speaking out about abuse to helping others.  

Aly has become known as an advocate for mental health, body positivity and sexual abuse prevention.  

Kendra Scott, hosted by Mu-Missouri 

Kendra Scott, entrepreneur and jewelry designer, was selected as the speaker for the 27th Lectureship in Values and Ethics at the University of Missouri and was an excellent fit for the audience; she recently started the Kendra Scott Foundation, whose mission is “Shine Bright, Do Good.” Before the event, Kendra was welcomed to the Mu chapter house by the collegians, who then serenaded her with an enthusiastic “Hey, Look us Over” and seemed absolutely charmed. As she spoke, a cart with stacks of jewelry boxes was wheeled out into the foyer. Kendra had brought gifts, each wrapped in her signature yellow box with a white bow. 

In an interview-style presentation, Scott focused on how her background shaped her business ethics. She shared that her stepfather had once told her: “The greatest thing you can do with your life is to use your talents to improve the lives of others,” and that despite the challenges she faced with being bullied as a child, her family had always been her greatest support. This is why, for Kendra, family comes first, every customer deserves a special experience, she empowers employees, gives back and makes philanthropy a core component of the Kendra Scott brand and mission. 

As I listened to Kendra speak, I thought that despite the setbacks she has experienced, she sticks to her values and works to put more good into the world, just like our Delta Gamma sisterhood.  

Cynt Marshall, hosted by Alpha Upsilon-Southern Methodist 

Dallas Mavericks COO and Delta Gamma alumna Cynthia (Cynt) Marshall, Gamma-UC Berkeley, spoke to collegians and guests at Southern Methodist University on October 18, 2023, in an interview-style format. After “retiring” from a successful career at the highest echelons of corporate America, Cynt assumed she would unplug and enjoy time with her family. She is a trailblazer and an all-around genuine person. The first African American cheerleader at Berkeley. Multiple miscarriages. Stage 3 colon cancer. Nonetheless, she encourages others to “follow your dreams. Stick to your values.”  

In 2018, Marshall received a call from Mavericks’ owner and entrepreneur Mark Cuban with an urgent plea to overhaul the operations at the NBA franchise in the wake of numerous systemic challenges. Since joining the company, Marshall has made tremendous strides in creating a safe environment (accounting for more than just physical safety) for all, promoting diversity and setting an example by leading with her values. Those values? Character, respect, authenticity, fairness, teamwork and safety. She is a firm believer that equity matters.  

Regional Foundation Coordinator in Region 6, Tracey McElroy, Gamma Zeta-Louisiana State, attended the Lectureship. She reported, “Cynt Marshall gave a marvelous, motivating speech. I felt really good about it and Delta Gamma. I’m so proud to be a DG tonight.”  

What wonderful words to hear.  

Kristin Armstrong, hosted by Gamma Pi-Roanoke 

On October 3, 2023, three-time Olympic gold medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong spoke to a crowded fieldhouse of students, alumni and guests at Roanoke College. The event was co-hosted by the Gamma Pi-Roanoke chapter with Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity and the Center for Leadership in Entrepreneurial Innovation at Roanoke College. Kristin’s message focused on resilience and grit in the face of challenges, with an emphasis on cultivating the traits needed to achieve excellence. 

Looking to the future 

And there is more to come. In November, Eta Gamma-Texas A&M hosted retired Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez. Welcoming speakers in 2024 are Alpha Iota-Oklahoma, Beta Iota-Purdue, Gamma Tau-Texas Christian and Gamma Zeta-Louisiana State. The Delta Gamma Lectureships in Values and Ethics continue to serve as a beacon for students, alumnae and guests in providing meaningful presentations and thought-provoking conversations. And as the Director of this remarkable endeavor, each Lectureship fills me with pride for the Do Good Sisterhood.  

The Board of Trustees has limited the Lectureships in Values and Ethics to the 22 campuses where Lectureships are currently established. For a full schedule of Lectureships please click here. 

Top and Bottom left: Princess Sarah Culberson, hosted by Beta Eta-Texas

Bottom Right: Aly Raisman, hosted by Beta Theta-Durham 

Kendra Scott, hosted by Mu-Missouri

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Looking Back at a Year on the Road with Our Two Named CDCs

Tracy, Lexie, Ella and Leslie pose together
Tracey Williams, Fraternity Executive Director, CDC Lexie, CDC Ella, and Leslie Martin, Foundation Executive Director

For over 75 years, Collegiate Development Consultants (CDCs) have been an integral part in the growth and development of the Do Good Sisterhood. In recognition of the character and quality of CDCs, two awards are given each year through the Delta Gamma Foundation. The Stuart Award was established by Helen Catherine (H.K.) Davis Stuart, Kappa-Nebraska, in 1995, for the CDC with the highest interview score. The Baynard Award, created by Mildred Moyer Baynard, Kappa-Nebraska, recognizes the CDC who will work with Delta Gamma's newest chapter.

The 2022 recipients of these awards were announced last summer:

  • Alexie (Lexi) Rendon, Gamma Xi-Texas Tech, 2022 Stuart Consultant
  • Ella Brown, Epsilon Phi-Loyola, 2022 Baynard Consultant

Lexie and Ella were featured in the Foundation's 2021-2022 Annual Impact Report, where we learned what they were looking forward to and what they intended to accomplish during their year on the road.

As the academic year comes to an end, Lexie and Ella shared personal reflections about their experiences and memories that will remain close to their hearts forever.

Ella Brown, Epsilon Phi-Loyola

Ella headshot in a green shirt
Ella with a DG block
Ella and attendees at Anchor Academy

“This past year as a CDC has truly been a year of challenges, growth and new experiences. From assisting Epsilon Kappa-Clemson with their first formal recruitment to watching Bachelor in Paradise with the women of Beta Gamma-Utah, this job is anything but boring! I simply hope that I have made an impact on the women who have made such an impact on my life!

One of my favorite memories this year was serving as a facilitator at Anchor Academy in Seattle. It was wonderful seeing and meeting other staff members, alumnae volunteers and Friends of the Anchor while exploring a new city! Another one of my favorite memories is playing sardines with the other CDCs while staying at EO for training! In case you were wondering, there are so many great hiding spots at Executive Offices!

I'm so thankful that the CDC program has given me such an amazing team of women who truly support each other on both personal and professional levels. They inspire me to be the best version of myself each and every day, and I hope these friendships will last a lifetime!"

Lexi Rendon, Gamma Xi-Texas Tech

Lexie and her guide dog
Lexie and friend at a game
Lexie with her guide dog and friend at a theme park

“As we approach the 150-year celebration, I can’t help but reflect on the many incredible leaders of our fraternity and all those to come. I feel blessed and honored that I was chosen to be one of them. My year as a CDC is one that I will never forget. Time and time again, I am inspired by the courage, ambition, joy, love and passion our collegians have for life in and outside of Delta Gamma.

Additionally, I feel so fortunate to have met the most genuine and kind-hearted advisers, regional volunteers and alumnae who welcomed me with open arms and reminded me how much of a treat and privilege it is to be part of this sisterhood.

Of all the memories, I am most thankful for those spent making genuine connections and getting to know women for who they truly are. From deep talks about life passions while grabbing sushi, to late-night chats about alumnae life over hot tea, to hiking while telling funny childhood stories, to all the times in between, these are moments I will never forget.  Thank you to the many sisters who have made my year as a consultant so special. I am forever grateful for you.”

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The Delta Gamma Foundation proudly funds Training and Programming opportunities through generous gifts to the Foundation, in the areas of social responsibility, health and well-being, and leadership. This includes the Collegiate Development Consultant program, which is funded in part by the Foundation.

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Ed and Sully, a yellow lab guide dog, sit outside in Florida on a metal bench.

Service for Sight Grant Creates a Perfect Pair

This is the story of Ed and Sully, a perfect partnership that was made possible by a Service for Sight grant from the Delta Gamma Foundation to Southeastern Guide Dogs. Ed and Sully are an inspiring pair and are proud to share their story with you. 

Ed Burton is a U.S. Navy veteran and operating engineer mechanic, who was unable to continue serving due to vision loss. Having lost his sense of purpose in a sighted world, Ed felt adrift and isolated. But Sully, a four-legged firecracker full of energy, nicknamed his "Alfa Romeo sports car" wouldn’t let Ed give up. Now, these two are living life to the fullest, side by side, ready for any adventure. 

Before receiving his first guide dog, Ed was using only a cane. Although the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs kept telling Ed he should consider getting a guide dog to aid mobility and independence, Ed was not interested at the time. For the most part, he managed to get around without too much trouble, except one day when he crossed the street while jogging with his cane. He didn’t hear anyone coming, so he proceeded into the crosswalk. A car quickly approached and turned right without stopping and hit him on his left side. It became apparent to Ed that he needed a guide dog as a result of the accident. 

The process of being matched with a guide dog is extensive. The applicant completes a detailed questionnaire and phone screening about their lifestyle, where they live, what they like to do, and anything else that might help them find their perfect partner. The puppy raisers also take notes about the dogs they are raising through the process. Using all the information collected, the center determines which dog will best suit the recipient. There is typically a backup dog in case the first match doesn’t work – sometimes it is just a matter of trial and error.  

For Ed, once he was matched with Sully, he attended a puppy boot camp for 26 days where he lived on campus and learned how to work with his new companion. His favorite moments with Sully during that first month were recalled by Ed: “My favorite part of the training was about the second week in, as you’re bonding. I was with Sully and told her to sit and stay with the trainers. They then took me and sat me down in a chair in a different section of the hallway and I called to her. She came running and launched herself and hit me in the chest.” 

Now, one year later, Ed is living an independent life. He is passionate about sharing his story and how receiving a guide dog changed his life. “I trust my life with this dog. She keeps me from falling into holes, running into tree limbs, and so much more. She has literally saved my life twice. It’s amazing the work they do. And the dogs just seem to know who needs them.” 

And the story gets even sweeter – Sully’s puppy-raiser is a Delta Gamma! Cheryl Hoffman Zsido Poage, Gamma Upsilon-Wichita State, was integral in Sully’s fundamental training, bringing this do good story full circle.  

Cheryl holds Sully while she licks the side of Cheryl's face.
Sully sits outside with her blue collar that says 'Guide Dogs for the Blind.' This photo is from when she was a puppy.
Dave and Cheryl Poage stand outside with Sully in front of a large rock that has 'Southeastern Guide Dogs' along with their logo engraved in it.

Cheryl shared, “I began raising puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs in 2015 as a part of a service learning project with my students. I have raised six puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs, including Sully. We received Sully at 8 weeks old, and we worked with her until she was 18 months old. As a puppy-raiser, we are responsible for teaching our pups basic cues and socialization, and Southeastern Guide Dogs provides the puppy raisers with all the resources needed to successfully raise the pups. Once the puppy reaches anywhere from 14-18 months they are called back to Southeastern Guide Dogs to begin formal training. This is done by professional trainers, and this is where the puppies begin training for various careers, including Guide Dogs, Veteran Service Dogs or a handful of other careers. Once the puppy graduates,  the match process begins, and the puppy will be placed with its handler.  

Sully was a fun pup to raise.  She was very smart and loved to work. When she saw her coat, she knew it was time to go out and practice her cues — nothing made her happier than that. When she was off work, she was a silly girl just like any other lab puppy you might meet. My favorite things about raising Sully were her can-do attitude and confidence. She was always up for the next challenge whether it was canine fitness, working on distractions, or fine-tuning basic cues. When we turned Sully back over to Southeastern Guide Dogs, she never once looked back. It was almost as if she was saying, ‘I’ve got this!’” 

Sully poses in her graduation cap with Cheryl.
Puppy Sully sleeps on the floor, exhausted.
Ed and Sully
Ed and Sully
Sully stands in her harness at an ice cream shop.
Sully stands outside in front of a sign that says 'Taco Shack'

Southeastern Guide Dogs reaches a variety of people in need and offers guide dogs to adults and teens with vision loss, as well as service dogs to veterans with PTSD and other disabilities, all at no charge to the recipient. They also provide skilled companion dogs, facility therapy dogs and Gold Star Family Dogs to individuals and families facing emotional hardships, such as depression or the loss of a loved one in the military. If you are interested in becoming a puppy raiser or would like more information on the services Southeastern Guide Dogs provides, please visit www.guidedogs.org

The Delta Gamma Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that share our mission of Service for Sight. In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the Foundation awarded 63 Service for Sight grants totaling $400,000 to national organizations to fund programs benefiting people living with blindness or low vision.

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