By Rebecca Esparza ’99 BA ’03 MBA
Growing up in San Antonio, Katie Weitman learned firsthand from her mother about leadership and volunteerism. Today, she would not trade her involvement in a campus sorority for the world.
Every year, students at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) have an opportunity to join any of the more than 70 academic, athletic, Greek and special interest organizations on campus. Each specialized group allows students the chance to identify their individualism, strengthen leadership skills, while encouraging pride at UIW, as well as the local community.
Weitman, a UIW fashion management student, said joining the Delta Beta Chi Sorority has made an indelible impact on her life. As president of the organization, she not only ensures each member has a chance to shine bright, but the benefits to better herself are a welcomed bonus.
“Being involved has taught me invaluable, real-world skills, the three most important being organizational, time management and communication. The sorority has brought out these qualities in me and I’m able to apply them to every aspect of my life whether at school, sorority, or life in general,” she said.
“Going Greek” is one of the best decisions a student can make in their collegiate career, maintained Weitman.
“You will learn so much about yourself and it will truly help you grow,” she said. “Each of us brings something different to the table: some of us are pageant queens, bookworms, athletes and artists, but in the end we all come together with common ground and have truly unique friendships.”
Founded in 1985, Delta Beta Chi is the oldest sorority at UIW. Campus-wide, there are over a dozen different local, national and international Greek sororities and fraternities open to undergraduate students.
Other campus organizations promote awareness about social consciousness issues, such as suicide prevention, children’s advocacy, veterans affairs and environmental justice.
SustainUIW is a student organization that lives, practices and promotes a sustainable lifestyle at the university. With 33 current members, the overall purpose of the organization is to raise awareness within the student population about energy.
When senior and President of SustainUIW Pompeyo R. Quesada was a freshman, former UIW English professor Eugene Moore’s World Literature class opened his eyes to mountaintop removal mining and its effects on the people of Appalachia. He approached Moore about making a difference for the environment and soon SustainUIW was born.
“I became intrigued about the effect coal mining was having on our environment and ecosystem. I reached out to Professor Moore and explained my desire to help the environment and be its voice. I want to protect our world from the destructions people have bestowed on the earth,” he said.
The ultimate goal is to move the university to a cleaner and more sustainable campus, including empowering the student body to become sustainable with their participation in different events.
“SustainUIW has taught me endless lessons and shown me what an idea and student input can do. Now that I’m a couple of months from graduating, I realize that SustainUIW allows me to serve the earth. I believe that as humans we hold the responsibility to serve the world and protect it. Ultimately, the world and all its natural available resources should have the same inevitable rights that a human being has,” Quesada said.
The National Society of Leadership and Success is just one of almost a dozen student organizations focused on academic success.
UIW student Shelley Lippe joined the organization after being invited; she hoped it would strengthen her leadership and interpersonal skills. Her activity with the group has far exceeded those expectations.
“Since joining, I have had opportunities to grow beyond anything I ever imagined,” she explained. “The positive, supportive environment and true essence of teamwork has profoundly impacted my personal, as well as academic self, which not only helps me to be a better leader today, but for the rest of my life.”
She encourages anyone who has received an invitation to the organization to proceed with the process as soon as possible.
“The leadership training is invaluable and the friendships you will forge are priceless,” she added.
Founded at UIW in August of 2011, the invitation-only leadership honor society is affiliated with more than 200 colleges around the world. The mission is to build leaders, provide personal development and peer-to-peer networking for the students.
Paulina Mazurek, student center assistant director and chapter advisor for the program, said the first steps to joining include filling out an online application and paying the one-time registration fee. The organization has 178 active members currently.
“After that, you are considered a pre-inducted member of the society. And once you complete the steps to induction, (which include orientation, leadership training, networking and participation in community events) you will become an inducted member,” she said.
Mazurek added the society is founded upon the core beliefs that one can achieve one’s dreams with the proper support and dedicated action.
“We teach students firsthand that we accomplish more together than we would achieve alone. Participation in community events is key,” said Mazurek.