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Building Personal and Professional Connections through Sisterhood

Members of alpha Kappa Delta Phi pose for a group photo.

The paths to enjoying the camaraderie of sisterhood in alpha Kappa Delta Phi (aKDPhi) are as unique as each member of the sorority.

Enya Song, a junior studying user experience design (UX), had explored the idea of joining an Asian-interest sorority before attending Purdue, but spending her first semester studying remotely from her home in Washington due to the COVID-19 pandemic provided a challenge. She felt isolated, but rushed virtually and began to connect with members of the sorority online. The connections she made through aKDPhi helped in her transition to campus life in the spring - particularly because most club events were still being held virtually.

"By the time I came to campus for the second semester, I already knew people and could meet them for the first time in person," Song says. "It was nice to already have that kind of group and that was the main reason I rushed."


Helana Ho, sophomore in finance.

Helena Ho, a sophomore studying finance, had gotten involved in several organizations during her first semester but hadn't yet found the right fit to take a deeper dive into involvement and leadership. At the recommendation of a friend, Ho found the connections and community she was looking for in aKDPhi.

"I wanted to get more involved with a club and have a closer community with people," Ho says. "I wasn't quite getting that with the other organizations that I had joined. It was very cool that this would be part of my culture and have people that come from similar backgrounds and have similar experiences to me."

Since joining aKDPhi, both women have gained valuable experiences while making an impact as leaders in the sorority. Song currently serves as president, while Ho serves as vice president internal.

Through their leadership roles, Song and Ho direct various areas of operation within the sorority. As president, Song provides oversight in all the sorority's endeavors, which includes leading an executive board composed of five women, delegating responsibility to various committees, managing conflict and navigating the sorority through any issues that arise. Song says witnessing the growth of previous president Inseong Hong and considering her future career plans inspired her to run for chapter president.

"She was always a really strong speaker and leader, but I think it was clear how confident she was by the end of it," Song says. "She was so composed and knew how to lead confidently, and I wanted to do that. Sometime in the future, I want to have a leadership role in my career. The opportunity was there to get the experience of what it means to be a leader."

As vice president internal, Ho's primary responsibilities revolve around communication. She also oversees the mental health action and sisterhood committees, and two academic chairs. Ho had never held a formal leadership position before joining aKDPhi and did not foresee herself pursuing leadership positions as early as her sophomore year, but the experiences have helped build her confidence and make an impact on meaningful programs.

"aKDPhi has pushed me to be more of a leader rather than just a general member," Ho says. "I love to lead programs where we raise a lot of money and get a lot of support. It feels very rewarding to me."

The Purdue chapter of aKDPhi was established in 2003 and promotes the pillars of sisterhood, leadership, scholarship, service and Asian awareness to all members. The sorority encourages the growth of its members through cultural diversity and expression of individuality, develops strategic collaborations and partnerships, supports initiatives promoting the sustainability of organizations and its mission, and empowers members to become pioneers for philanthropic, cultural and scholastic programs worldwide. The Purdue chapter currently boasts 39 active members. Chapter programs and members have won multiple awards from Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life, and the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) this year, including Member of the Year, President of the Year and Program of the Year.

A focus on mental health is a new endeavor aKDPhi began focusing on during the 2021-22 academic year. Online check-ins, in-person roundtable discussions and feedback forms have all offered peer-to-peer support within the sorority, while collaborations on events with other sororities and fraternities within the MGC have created stress-relief activities. aKDPhi also collaborated with Delta Phi Lambda to create a packet containing tips, advice and information on how to connect with organizations that can help manage stress, burnout and more. The sorority is also planning mental health programming in connection with Mental Health Awareness Month (May) before spring semester finals.


Jojo Ybe meeting with members of aKDPhi after giving a women's speaker talk.

Song and Ho have also had a hand in aKDPhi's award-winning women's speaker series, which allows sorority members to connect with successful Asian-American women professionals. This year's speaker was Jojo Ybe, a Filipina business owner based in Chicago, who shared her experience starting a business as an Asian-American during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how her culture has influenced her business. A previous speaker, Jennifer Mika, taught attendees a dance and talked of her struggles to fit in with her Asian and American identities and how navigates those challenges as an Asian American. aKDPhi's women's speaker series has been recognized with the Purdue Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life's Program of the Year award each of the last two years.

The primary philanthropic efforts of aKDPhi focus on breast cancer awareness. The sorority raises funds for breast cancer awareness through its annual "Mr. Pink" event, a male pageant featuring contestants from other organizations such as the Asian American Association at Purdue, Kappa Pi Beta, the Purdue Filipino Association and more. This year's event raised $2,600.

The sorority also provides opportunities for members to gain valuable professional experience through paid internships with the national aKDPhi organization. Song and Ho each have held multiple internships. Song's first experience came as a technical writing and media intern, which primarily consisted of writing and documentation work. She now serves as an organizational development intern and is working to create a new onboarding process for members of the international leadership board. She says the experience has connected with design processes used in her UX studies.

"It involves a lot of interviews with people, understanding their pain points and condensing all of that to draft a new solution," Song says.

Ho assisted with the Midwest Evolution project, a structural reorganization of aKDPhi chapters in the Midwest region, last semester and currently serves as a convention programming intern, helping coordinate logistics for the upcoming national convention in Orlando, Florida. Additionally, Ho has connected with a Purdue alumna on the international leadership board of aKDPhi for advice on current issues facing the Purdue chapter. She has also made professional connections through a resume review, where she was able to connect with a finance professional via Zoom and gain valuable career advice, and has made a valuable connection with Jenny Zheng, a Purdue alumna who is part of the international leadership board of aKDPhi. Ho says her connection with Zheng often helps her navigate difficult positions she faces in leadership.

"Whenever there's an emergency situation, shes one of the people I always go to," Ho says. "She's seen it all and since she's officer of programming, she knows the Midwest region. Whenever other chapters have similar problems, she can tell us how other chapters solved them and how we can proceed. She really cares about the sorority and she pushes me to maintain my passion without overstepping boundaries."


Members of aKDPhi pose for a group photo

Through these activities and more, Song and Ho say the bonds of sisterhood within the chapter have created fulfilling experiences and helped them build confidence. In Song's case, the connections she has made have strengthened her pride in her identity.

"I've met a lot of Taiwanese girls here who are so proud of their culture," Song says. "After being able to bond with them over that, I feel like now I'm much more able to say with pride that I am Taiwanese. On a personal level, that's what I'm most proud of."

aKDPhi is part of Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life at Purdue, which houses more than 90 organizations, including 11 cooperative houses and more than 80 fraternities and sororities. The FSCL community focuses on scholarship, service, philanthropic giving, leadership and brotherhood/sisterhood. Purdue boasts one of the nation's largest fraternity, sorority and cooperative communities, with nearly 20 percent of Purdue undergraduates holding membership in an FSCL organization.

To learn more about aKDPhi, visit the organization's website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.