ZTA Advisor Feature
This blog accompanied the ZTA's Alumnae Quarterly Newsletter. It was an extension of the small blurb I included in the newsletter and it was so fun to write! Brandi actually lives in the area where I grew up, so we had a lot to talk about during my initial interview. Read the blog on ZTA's site by clicking the button, or scroll down to read it here.
Unexpected connections through mentorship
When Brandi Dickenson Elmore (Zeta Chi Chapter, Tennessee Tech University) was asked to be the General Advisor for Lambda Kappa Chapter at Appalachian State University, she immediately knew she was in. What she didn’t know was how much value the role would add to her life.
At the time, Lambda Kappa was brand-new, and Brandi would be its first General Advisor. The role fit her like a glove, since she had a degree from Appalachian State and lived in nearby Kingsport, Tennessee, where she was already an active member of the Tri-Cities Alumnae Chapter.
Nine years later, Brandi says advising a collegiate chapter “fills her bucket” in a way her work life and hobbies don’t always fulfill.
A culture of mentorship and support
According to Brandi, “Advisors are in a unique position to be able to build up collegians in a way society doesn’t always accomplish. Being in college can be tough, and we’ve faced some hard obstacles as a chapter; but overcoming those challenges together is really powerful.”
Some of those obstacles include heavy issues, like chapter members who passed away and mental health struggles as well as the challenges general chapter operations can sometimes pose.
But it always comes back to supporting each other. Brandi said, “As alumnae, the best thing we can give collegians is perspective. We can provide a really important frame of reference for collegians that ‘life goes on, and what you’ll remember are the fun times and what you accomplished together.’”
A network of dedicated women
On top of forming relationships with collegiate women, Brandi says she didn’t expect to make so many strong friendships with fellow alumnae.
Working with her fellow chapter advisors, national-level volunteers and local alumnae brought even more strong ZTA connections into her life. “I’ve worked with women across the board. From White Violets to new moms to Leadership Consultants. The thing that brings us all together is that we’ve all said ‘yes’ to ZTA and continue to do so.”
Brandi recognizes that time is often a factor that can keep women from making a commitment like hers. “This is probably the hardest barrier to entry for alumnae women,” she said. “We are expected to be everything, to everyone, all the time. To have things in your life that are enriching to you—whether that be self-care, hobbies, or whatever—is important. That’s what ZTA provides to me.”
So, in making her advisory role a priority, Brandi finds it enriches her life.
A future to be proud of
For Brandi, her ZTA experience is a full-circle one. From being a collegian to mentoring young women and finding her own support system, she’ll never view ZTA as her past. For her, it’s a present-day gift and a future she is working to mold.
Her advice to anyone who is considering volunteering her time to ZTA is, “Just try it. I tell my collegians that all the time. It could be a life-changing thing for you. If you don’t try and make that commitment to growing yourself, you’ll never know.”