Here at Sorority Packets, we’re thrilled to have grown an online community of more than 10,000 Potential New Members from across the country...and counting! We receive questions about the sorority recruitment process each and every day, and we want you to know that we take your inquiries to heart and do our best to respond to each and every one.
While everyone has their own fears and concerns, we were recently asked what it’s like to rush as a woman of color. To answer this question, we sat down with Maiya Burns, a 2019 graduate of the University of Texas who pledged Chi Omega as a sophomore transfer student. As a former student athlete, Maiya knew she wanted to join a sorority to find her place at a new school. Keep reading to hear some great advice and to learn how Maiya’s sorority experience shaped her into the amazing woman she is today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
“I was born and raised in Southlake, Texas and now live in Fort Worth, Texas. My family was originally from Ohio and moved down to Texas before I was born. Ever since, we’ve just been a big Longhorn family! I graduated from college in 2019 from the University of Texas with a degree in Exercise Science and am now working as a Project Manager for a college ministry on the TCU campus.”
Why did you decide to join a sorority at the University of Texas?
“I actually decided to rush my sophomore year. My freshman year of college, I played volleyball at a school in Florida where I tore my ACL and ended up having surgery and having to quit the sport. When I was looking to transfer to a new school, I had already seen my friends go through rush at other universities - none of them at UT. I had seen their experiences and it looked like something I could be a part of too!”
“When I transferred to UT, I immediately decided to rush. My biggest draw to Greek life was the team feel that reminded me of volleyball and having friends that would always be in my corner. I thought I could get that out of rushing a sorority, and I did! Going to such a big campus, it was kind of scary for me to not be involved in anything initially. At UT, about 10% of the campus is a part of Greek life so that shrunk the school down into a smaller capacity that I could handle. I loved the idea of having these girls doing school, college and life with me while I was away from home.”
How would you describe your overall sorority experience at the University of Texas?
“From beginning to end, Chi Omega shaped me into the person that I am. Whether it was my relationships with girls in my own sorority or other individuals in Greek life, it played a big role in helping me mature and figure out life for the first time on my own.”
“The girls that were in my sorority, some of which were my age since I rushed as a sophomore as well as the younger girls who were in my pledge class, made me feel cared for and valued. They turned into the girls I knew I could call no matter the circumstance. We often see sororities as large groups of girls who always party and indulge in the ‘typical’ college lifestyle. I think sororities are much deeper than that and serve a lot of different purposes. They challenge you personally and academically. My sorority was a big part of helping me pave my way through college. A lot of the girls that I was friends with in college I'm still really close with and I don't see that changing in the future.”
Is there anything you would change about your sorority experience?
“Overall, no. I think that choosing to rush as a sophomore was a really cool decision and I encourage anyone to do so as well. I was able to be motherly to the girls in my pledge class since I had a year of college underneath me, and it also allowed me to get to know the other girls in my sorority since they were my age. I really loved my experience.”
“Even as a woman of color, I was able to serve on our executive board and that helped me grow as a leader. It was great to work alongside other girls who were confident and fun. I had such a big heart for the girls who were in my chapter.”
What was the recruitment process at the University of Texas like?
“It’s kind of a funny story actually! My first day of recruitment, which we call open house at UT, I was actually the first girl in my line because of the alphabetical order we were placed in. So for all 14 houses I was the first girl each sorority saw. That was really fun for me – I hope each house felt like they were met with a smile!”
“I am extremely extroverted, and it was really exciting for me to share my life with a lot of different people. I think that being vulnerable and having those honest conversations with girls while you're in recruitment is really important to show who you are and why you think that this is something that you want to do with your time in college. Even still, looking back at my time during rush, there are some girls I met during that process in other houses who I am still friends with today. If anything, it’s a great way to make friends in the simplest of ways.”
What advice would you give to an introverted woman who is planning to go through recruitment?
“As much as I want to say don’t be nervous, I know that’s so, so hard. If you are introverted, that’s ok! They’re going to understand that and love you for that because I can guarantee you there are girls in every house who are introverted too. Whether it’s finding a connection with the girl you’re talking to and helping the conversation move along, I think that being willing to put yourself out there, even if it’s uncomfortable, can definitely be worth it in the end. It can be a hard process if everything is driven out of fear. It can be really good, although really hard, to be your most vulnerable self during the process.”
What fears or concerns did you have going into recruitment?
“So first things first, you're going to notice something different about me whether I speak or not. I didn’t fear that I would be judged for my skin color or my age or being a transfer, but I knew that those were things that each sorority knew about me before I even stepped into their house.”
“I was worried that those things about me would become a topic of discussion and would almost be a negative pull. However, none of my conversations made me feel judged and those fears were driven away very quickly in the process. I was able to get to know people and they saw my heart for what it was. I really do think there is space in recruitment to allow girls to really see who you are at your core.”
“Each sorority probably has their stereotype, but you can’t fit every single girl in a house into that stereotype. Don’t let that be a scary part of recruitment – every house wants girls who are loving and caring leaders. You will bring value to a sorority regardless of whether you look like the rest of the girls or not.”
What would you tell a PNM who is concerned about rushing as a woman of color either about sorority recruitment or sorority life?
“My biggest advice is just to give it a chance! I think girls can be driven away from it by being fearful of what the outcome could be or the fear of rejection, but I also do think having a woman of color in a sorority isn’t always the most familiar thing for that sorority itself. By just giving the process a chance, they want to give you a chance too. Don’t fall into this mindset that they’ve already written you off or want you to be a certain person for them. If you already stand out walking in just based on the way you look, I think there’s even more space to stand out with your personality with who you really are.”
“I would encourage everyone to be themselves – it doesn’t matter who you are. At the end of the day, you’re not walking through those doors to impress them or win them over. You’re there to find a group of friends. After being on the other side of recruitment as well, every girl that I made a connection with during the process stood out to me because they were themselves and weren’t putting on a show.”
Is there anything else that you like to add?
“I just really want to encourage any girl going through recruitment, regardless of race or how you think a sorority may perceive you, you will end up where you are best fit. If something doesn’t go right, keep trusting the process and understand that you’ll find a place to belong. A lot of girls can get caught up on Bid Day if they don’t get the house that they really wanted, but it’s important to give it a chance and take the opportunity in front of you.”