Student life thrives at St. John’s University. Between clubs and Greek life organizations, something’s always going on to keep the campus (and virtual campus) alive. On the Staten Island campus, the four superpower sororities include Gamma Eta, Kappa Beta Gamma, Phi Eta Chi and Theta Phi Alpha. The girl-power existing among these organizations shone through the pandemic and long before its effects. A sorority president emulates the SJU Vincentian values of leadership and service, and these girls shine through their innumerable efforts to make the Staten Island campus a home for its students.
Be sure to follow the tips below to secure that presidential win at your next sorority election!
A Q&A with Gamma Eta’s Alex Neri
Alex Neri acted as Gamma Eta’s fifth president. Gamma Eta, founded in 2017, has since thrived on the Staten Island campus as one of the newer sororities.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to run for president of Gamma Eta?
AN: I realized I wanted to run for president of Gamma Eta after my first semester. I saw so much room for change and innovation and I knew I would be the one to make that change if I won the election. After I won, I felt confident and excited about what I would do with this position.
Q: What were your goals for the sorority before you ran for president and how did those goals change once you locked in the position?
AN: When I started my term, I had goals to open communication, move us into the 21st century and become a chapter. Due to the pandemic, I had to bring sorority life and tradition to the virtual realm. My goals then shifted to keeping morale high and guiding the girls through these trying times.
Q: What was your proudest moment as president of Gamma Eta?
AN: I can look back at my time as president fondly. One of my proudest moments? Paving the way into how Gamma Eta would operate during the pandemic and revitalizing our constitution.
A Q&A with Jackie DeCarluccio
Like Alex, Jackie DeCarluccio served as Phi Eta Chi’s president for the 2020 calendar year. She oversaw 74 young women, making her organization the largest and longest-standing sorority on the Staten Island campus.
Q: Running the largest sorority on campus must have been difficult at times. How did you stay on top of things along with balancing classes?
JD: Keeping my academics as my first priority with this large responsibility wouldn’t have been possible with the support of my vice president and friend, Jenna Kelly. She truly was my equal and “right-hand man” throughout the entirety of the year. She was a consistent reminder that it is entirely possible to balance and accomplish it all.
Q: Who else helped you keep things running smoothly throughout your presidency?
JD: The sisters who fulfill the wide-ranging responsibilities on our executive board are the reason for our continuous success. I was lucky enough to have seven hard-working, loyal and trustworthy women by my side who were vital parts in obtaining our values of faith, education and charity.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone whose goals consist of becoming president of a large sorority like yours?
JD: The obvious answer is to cover the logistics: stay organized, gain support from past sisters, etc. My best piece of advice, though, is to always remember that you are more than just a president to your members. You are both their sister and their friend. The relationship you create with your sisters should be your first priority, as it will bind a love for you all that will motivate you to get through the hard times.
A Q&A with Samantha Haynia
Samantha Haynia, Kappa Beta Gamma’s third president, began her executive board in January 2021. Samantha’s goal to become president of KBG always stuck with her as her mother was also the president of her sorority at St. John’s University. Kappa Beta Gamma acts as the newest sorority at the Staten Island campus, crossing its Alpha class in the Spring of 2019.
Q: St. John’s University requires accreditation—as president, why is the accreditation process so important?
SH: The accreditation process from St. John’s is definitely tedious but important, nonetheless. As president, I believe it’s important because the process keeps us in good graces with our school. Accreditation is a way for us to prove to the school and the outside community that our sorority is about more than just hanging out and going places. Yes, the events are mandatory, but these mandates are still a way for us to prove that we actively take part in our community.
Q: As previous accreditation chair, how have these events got you where you are today?
SH: As previous accreditation chair, the events I planned prepared me so much for becoming president and taught me a lot about time management. There was always so much to squeeze into a semester. I had to work really hard to fit everything into the short span of time we had, while also trying to keep on top of all of my schoolwork and personal life.
Q: Has the organizational aspect of that position given you pointers that you kept with you during the presidency?
SH: When becoming president, my history working on accreditation helped me to prepare for managing my time and keeping on top of requirements for the sorority. So far, I believe I have been doing a fairly good job of keeping on top of planning so that my chapter is aware and prepared.
Working on accreditation gave me the organizational skills that are going to help me in my continued time as president as well as in my future. My time working on accreditation also taught me the importance of prioritizing and keeping a schedule so that nothing piles up and all that has to be done is completed.
A Q&A with Victoria Bongiovanni
Victoria Bongiovanni won her presidential election in January 2020. She’s since then had a successful presidency and continues the position today for Theta Phi Alpha.
Q: As president, do you prefer a certain part of the year, such as rush season or accreditation season?
VB: Being the president of my organization for over a year now, my favorite time of the year would definitely be our recruitment period. During this time period, we interact with freshmen and get to know why they chose St. John’s. Being able to share information and memories about our organization fills my heart with joy!
We work hard all year long to ensure that we connect with our philanthropies, give back to the community, stay on top of schoolwork and strengthen our sisterhood. Being able to share our achievements with more women and encourage them to create more memories with us has to be one of my favorite things.
Q: How do you continue to encourage your organization to keep morale high during a pandemic when everything’s virtual?
VB: When the pandemic came upon us out of nowhere, we knew we would be faced with some struggles. When we could no longer see each other in person, we were all extremely emotional and confused. We hope for better days, but we learned how to make the best out of every day. Using Zoom a few times a week so we could see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices was the main way we kept our connection strong. We knew one day we would all be back together and back to normal life.
Q: How did you and your organization process this sudden transition and how did you change things up?
VB: It took some time to get used to Zoom as our main way of communication, but after some time we got used to it. We were able to do online service and sisterhood events. In a weird way, this was one of my proudest moments as president. Seeing everyone grow in their own way during the pandemic and reach out to sisters for support and encouragement allowed me to realize that we will truly be there for one another no matter what.
Reflecting on these presidential tips
1. Climb the ladder
If you want to secure the presidency, show active involvement while being a member. You can do this by applying for a chair position, such as fundraising chair or sisterhood development, or be on standby for any assistance your executive board asks of you. If they don’t ask for your help, go out of your way to contribute to the group. You can do this by constantly volunteering your services and contributing ideas to larger events.
Some sororities consist of more members than others. Another way to increase the likelihood of winning your election includes getting to know your sisters on a personal level. Check up on them every once in a while, ask them about their jobs or academics. Show them you care! By displaying active involvement, you’ll prove yourself a viable candidate to e-board and your sisters.
2. Make sure your executive board supports you
Jackie said it best when she elaborated on the importance of keeping good graces with her executive board and vice president. In the Greek life world between school and national requirements (unless your org classifies as local), drama and an overload of events, things get difficult a lot. If you and your executive board constantly butt heads, it will be increasingly hard to come to similar understandings and make the big decisions.
If you know that you work well with certain people in your sorority, encourage them to run alongside you in the election. You never know, they may secure the win as well! When elected, establish the balance of power, but make sure your executive board knows that their voices matter. When your executive board acts as your rock and backbone, especially your vice president, it makes the job so much easier and all the more organized.
3. Remain in good standing with your university
If the university officially recognizes your Greek Life organization, you must adhere to their rules and regulations. By requiring regular attendance at accreditation or school-mandated events, you prove to the school that as a leader, you take that relationship seriously. In showing school spirit, you sell yourself to a wide possibility of prospective new members. Your school will also show enthusiasm toward your organization and offer you a wide range of new opportunities like higher budgets and positive advertising.
Make sure to remain in good standing with the community, too! Community service and philanthropy act as modes to help your organization give back as both a morale and reputation booster. Helping others will grant you indescribable happiness, so get out there and give back to this beautiful world!
4. Keep morale high when things get rough
No matter how hard things may get, whether that entails a pandemic or even internal drama, you must keep a level head and put on a brave face. As president, your sisters look up to you. During the hard times, keep the executive board in your corner and remain calm, cool and collected. Doing so will allow for smoother transition processes and level-headed decisions. And, most importantly, do not take criticism personally.
5. At the end of the day, everyone deserves respect
As president, you deserve respect from your sisters. This does not mean your sisters don’t deserve that same respect. Remember, your sisters voted for you. Things will get frustrating, but kindness and respect will get you a long way. Constantly remind your organization that you respect and remain proud of the hard work they do. Doing so will allow for more organization and will also encourage your sisters to work harder.
6. Don’t take criticism personally
This final piece of advice may feel hard to handle—believe me, it took me a very long time to come to terms with this. People will almost always make comments (both positive and negative)—that doesn’t mean they mean to attack you or your character. In times of frustration, the president will more often than not bear the brunt of bad news. Taking comments personally takes the fun away from the job. Handle criticism with grace and understanding; then do whatever you can to make your organization the best it can be!
How to Contact the Four St. John University— Staten Island Campus Sororities
Being able to work with these sororities remains one of the many pleasures that St. John’s University granted me during my time there. Be sure to follow these four incredible sororities for a closer look at an exceptional group of young female leaders @gammaetasju, @kbg_sju, @phietachi_ and @thetaphigammapi on Instagram.