Experience ADPi: The First-Generation Experience

August 25th, 2023
Filed Under: Uncategorized

By Mary Flora, Gamma Rho – Arizona State University, Collegiate Service Specialist – Northern District


Me on bid day at Arizona State Fall 2015

Being a first-generation college student is an experience like no other because you have no idea what you’re in for. You do not have a connection to an institution growing up to cheer on for game day, you do not know what a college town offers vs a city school, and you certainly do not know about Greek Life and Alpha Delta Pi.


I come from a small island town in Southeast Alaska where my graduating class was 142 and most of my friends did not leave the PNW for their higher education. All I knew about Greek life was what I saw in recruitment videos and movies. What they told me is that they rode around in pink jeeps, blew glitter in the desert, and warned my parents about what “happens” in a sorority. Leading up to move-in day of my freshman year, my mom saw a Facebook post about sorority recruitment at Arizona State and asked, “Do you want to try it?”. I said, “Why not!”. Again, being first generation meant I had no idea what to wear, who to get letters of recommendation from, or how “paying for your friends” was going to work out. My freshman-year roommate also did not go through recruitment, so I felt really alone navigating the sorority experience. 


Being the first meant my parents asked me a ton of questions throughout my 4 years but one that still makes me laugh, is when I sent a photo of my bid card to my family, my dad asked my mom “Is that the one she wanted?” A significant part of my story is that I did not want to join Alpha Delta Pi. I was the worst PNM for my Recruitment Counselors. I stalked all the chapters on social media and decided based on that “who was top house” and which chapter I was going to join. Yet, round after round Alpha Delta Pi kept inviting me back. What I remember from my Bid Day was, “Why are we running in this heat,” “Why is that boy handing me flowers,” and “Why did this chapter pick ME?”


Myself, Rae Ann Gruever, and Madelyn Hart (Eta Pi, Virginia Tech) at AFA 2019

We always talk about our WHY in Alpha Delta Pi. Many people talked about a why I joined, but since I did not want to join, I share my why I stayed. I did not know it at the time, but now after being initiated for 8 years, I have realized that the women at Alpha Delta Pi saw something in me I had not yet seen in myself. Being in a sorority gave me the mentorship and guidance I was missing as a first gen student. They showed me how to apply for Alpha Delta Pi Foundation scholarships and how to find study groups in the library. College was really difficult for me and if I had not joined Alpha Delta Pi, I would have transferred to a school closer to home. 


Me and Sarah Balis (Alpha Gamma Delta)

Joining a sorority afforded me many skills such as walking into a room full of people you do not know and being confident to strike up a conversation with someone. I could not have done that without recruitment prep weeks and speaking to PNMs. The next skill is networking. Being in a fraternity or sorority is a privilege that lends us access to unique groups of people that are connected to the world and especially careers we have an interest in. I would not have gotten any of my professional jobs or volunteer opportunities without my network of fraternity men and sorority women. Finally, joining a sorority gave me a value of commitment that is steadfast. We all know the phrase, “It’s not just 4 years it’s for life.” I know that is true because of the Alpha Delta Pi AND Panhellenic sisters I am still connected with, especially my best friend, Sarah Balis, of Alpha Gamma Delta. She and I were Panhellenic Delegates at the same time and have been inseparable since. 


All of this to say, Alpha Delta Pi at Arizona State provided an experience to a first-generation student that not only changed my trajectory, but the International Organization of Alpha Delta Pi continues to be a space where my life is forever changed. I am so grateful that I am able to serve this organization by continuing to believe in Alpha Delta Pi and the sorority experience. 


Abby McCollom (Alpha Omicron, Oklahoma State) and myself at Phi Gamma Delta Leadership Institute 2022

Jennifer Mitchell (Gamma Tau, Vermont) and I take a BeReal with Tamie Pinkston at AFA 2022

With my 2017 Intern Class (Annabelle Hale, Zeta Beta NC State; Sydney Swanson, Pi Iowa State; Rachel Picot, Theta Kappa FAU; Alli Winkler, Theta Omicron JMU; Veronica Patel, Zeta Alpha CSU Fullerton; Erin Beauregard, Epsilon Rho UNLV)