Kappa Kappa Gamma

Student Organization Name: Kappa Kappa Gamma

Category of Group: Greek Life

Year Founded: 1870

Your Name: Anne Mumford

Your Year: 2010

Your Hometown: Cape Cod, MA

Your Position: In the past, I have been Public Relations Chair and New Member Chair

About the group: Kappa Kappa Gamma Women’s Fraternity was founded in 1870 in Monmouth, Illinois. “Kappa”, as it’s commonly called, was founded before the word sorority had been coined! In case you’re not familiar with how sororities work, here’s a quick overview. Kappa belongs to the National Panhellenic Conference, an umbrella organization which sets rules for how sorority women should run their organizations and recruit new members. Kappa has also has our own National Headquarters, which oversees and provides resources to 136 collegiate chapters in the United States and Canada. These chapters can range in size from fewer than twenty members to over two hundred at some larger schools! In fact, since the time of our founding in 1870, Kappa has initiated over 230,000 members, making us one of the largest sororities in the world. After graduation, members (also called sisters) can remain involved with the Fraternity by joining one of over 300 alumnae associations all over the world, or by volunteering to support undergraduate chapters as advisers.

I’ll tell you a little bit about what makes the Kappa chapter at Hopkins special. Though fraternities had colonized on campus as early as 1877, sororities did not begin to appear at JHU until the 1980’s. Currently, Hopkins is home to three NPC sororities: Alpha Phi, Phi Mu and Kappa Kappa Gamma. Our chapter celebrated our tenth anniversary on campus in 2009! Our chapter is composed of over eighty young women from all over the country, as well as Japan, Denmark, France, England, Macedonia, China, Jamaica and Canada. Our sisters major in everything from Writing Seminars to Biomedical Engineering to Neuroscience and are involved in over eighty different extracurricular activities around campus, including varsity athletics, dance, a capella, theater and Hopkins Emergency Rescue Organization (HERO). Kappa sisters also make time to study: our chapter GPA is consistently well-above the All-Undergraduate average, and our sisters include Woodrow Wilson Scholars, Hodson Trust Scholars and members of many of the University’s major-specific honor societies.

Events: The one question I’m asked the most by people interested in Greek Life is, “What do you actually do in a sorority?”. Our events tend to fall into two major categories: philanthropy and sisterhood.

A major part of joining a sorority is giving back to the community. Kappa’s national philanthropy is Reading is Fundamental, an organization that promotes literacy and learning in children. We support RIF through book drives and by volunteering weekly at Barclay Elementary, a Baltimore city public school a few blocks from campus. Sisters also participate in events such as the Baltimore Heart Walk, the MDSPCA Walk for Animals, the Hopkins 5K for Cancer and Relay for Life. Last year Kappa was Relay’s highest fundraising team, with over $5,000! A few times a year, Kappa holds our own fundraising events such as an inter-fraternity cook-off and a charity fashion show.

Sisterhood events are one of the most fun things about being in a sorority. Every semester, Kappa holds themed Date Parties, Mixers and a Formal in off-campus venues around the city. It’s a great chance to get dressed up and have some fun! We also hold plenty of less formal sisterhood events, like going pumpkin-picking, apple-picking, horseback riding, ice skating, playing laser tag or just hanging out and watching reruns of The Office or Glee. My sisters and I have also gone on roadtrips to Hershey Park, Six Flags, Washington DC and New York City! Last year’s chapter retreat took place just outside Baltimore at Wilderness Adventures, where we spent a day on the ropes course. On campus, sisters have fun at events like Spring Fair, Homecoming and Greek Week, which we won last year!

Why I got involved: I wanted to join Kappa to expand my social network and find a family away from home. I also loved that Kappa gives me a chance to get involved in community service, and offers a lot of support and training. Nationally, Kappa is focused on creating women who will become leaders in their communities, colleges and careers. In addition to holding leadership positions in my chapter, I have been able to take advantage of Leadership training provided by the Fraternity in the form of Kappa trainers, alumnae who visit the chapter and give workshops on health, finance, networking and leadership techniques, as well as KKG Leadership Academy, which I was elected by my sisters to attend. Delegates from all 136 chapters are flown to Ohio to participate in a four-day intensive leadership training program, which is a lot of fun in addition to being very inspiring.

The love, support and deep friendship of my sisters is priceless, and it’s very comforting to know that even after I graduate, no matter where I am in the world, I can rely on the extensive alumnae network to meet new people and network in my career area. The perks of membership are great, but the truly amazing thing about becoming a sister is the hundreds of new people I’ve met, the good times I’ve had and the friends I’ve made.

Can freshmen join? Students can go through recruitment (the process of joining a fraternity or sorority) as early as the second semester of their freshmen year. Sorority formal recruitment takes place in late January and involves each potential new member meeting many women from each of the three sororities. At the end of the process, most women are offered a “bid”, or invitation to join one of the three sororities. Bid Day is a big event on campus! New Members are welcomed and celebrated with singing, gifts and lots of bonding activities. Each sorority holds a 4-6 week New Member period, in which New Members learn about their new sorority’s history and values and participate in plenty of fun events. At the end of the period New Members are Initiated, at which point the secrets and rituals of the sorority are revealed to them and they become full sisters. This may sound a little creepy, but I promise that it isn’t. Our rituals have been kept secret since the 1870’s and are beautiful and meaningful, but not frightening. Kappa also has a very strict zero-tolerance policy towards any form of hazing, and I can honestly say that in four years on campus, I have never witnessed or been subjected any form of hazing. Sisterhood is about friendship and mutual respect. My experience in Kappa has been nothing short of incredible, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. For a more detailed account of the recruitment process, check out my 2007 Hopkins Guest Blog entry, “My Path to Kappa.”  You can also get more information about Greek Life at the University’s Student Life website.