When I look back on my transition to the University of Florida, I remember feeling overwhelmed, yet exhilarated, by my sudden taste of freedom and independence. I was ready to start anew, redefine myself, and leave high school behind once and for all; however, I had no idea where to start.
I spent most of my freshman year floundering around, slowly expanding my social horizons and hanging out with new people. My roommates were quiet, kept to themselves, and only greeted me out of politeness. I never developed the comradeship that I had hoped for– you know, the kind of “roomie” bond you see in the movies.
I joined clubs and left clubs, while I continued to work on my writing, an individual craft. I kept busy with my academics and explored college-town Gainesville in my free time with my semesterly friends. Yet, few relationships in college ever felt constant and I was beginning to feel as if I was missing something.
I was very lonely, to say the least, but I managed. Soon, my sophomore year came around and just as I was beginning to accept that college life had become a melancholic routine, a friend of mine recommended that I attend an information session for a multicultural sorority called: Gamma Eta.
I did my research, which meant creeping on the organization’s social media outlets. Colorful feeds filled my phone screen with ambitious, confident women of all ethnic backgrounds, clad in purple and teal, smiling with the iconic sunflower in their hair. I soon fell in love with the idea of joining a multicultural sorority that celebrated diversity. I admired that Gamma Eta was not one uniform group of women who all looked the same, dressed the same, and had the same goals. It was quite the opposite.
As a first generation Latina, born and raised in the cultural melting pot of Miami, this sorority felt like a familiar community on campus where I regularly questioned my sense of belonging.
Fast forward a semester, and pursuing this organization had been nothing but empowering. The women of Gamma Eta and their passion for academic excellence pushed me to become the best version of myself. They constantly validated me and reminded me that I’m more than capable of achieving my dreams — that I am enough.
It’s all in the little moments, late nights in the library, frantically studying alongside sisters who double as your support system, spontaneous trips to the nearest ice cream parlor to de-stress and talk about life and nonsense, receiving random emoji-filled texts from sisters in and out of town, reminding me of how awesome I am. This sorority showed me the importance of sisterhood, leadership, service, diversity, strength, unity, and scholarship — the seven pillars of excellence that motivate Gamma Eta women in all that they do.
Every sister is a ray of sunshine and, because of them, my passion for the sorority overflows with memories that will last me a lifetime. And this is only the beginning.
Together we raise awareness about the mysteries of lupus, an autoimmune disease that disproportionately afflicts women, through our annual fashion show and different events each semester. We give back to the community by participating in street clean-ups, where once a month we’ll help keep 5th avenue, a street that runs through the heart of a historically black district in Gainesville, litter-free. Among many other things, we also co-host an annual prom for senior citizens with Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, where we bring food, music, and good energy to the older members of the community.
Gamma Eta also introduced me to the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), a community full of amazing individuals striving for unity and who are doing incredible things on campus. My decision to pursue the multicultural Greek life fostered a much more fulfilling college experience — For the first time, the University of Florida was beginning to feel like home. College life was no longer about getting through my classes day by day. There were new things to look forward to, new people to meet, and new moments to be lived.
And I have Gamma Eta Sorority, Inc. to thank for that.
Hoy y Siempre,
Edysmar “Celesta” Diaz-Cruz