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Sarah Cohen, President of Chi Omega

College of Charleston senior, Sarah Cohen, has accomplished a lot in her four years.  Not only has she taken on the task of completing an Artium Baccalaureatus degree (one of the oldest degrees in the country), but she’s done so with a double major in Art History and Classics with a minor in English.  She’s also taken on the task of being the president of the Chi Omega sorority on CofC’s campus.  This lady is driven, inspiring and has some great words of wisdoms for collegiettes.  

What made you want to come to College of Charleston?

Honestly, how I wound up at College of Charleston was completely spontaneous. My heart was always set on attending University of Vermont, but after being accepted early admission it began to sink in that I would be living in the tundra of northern Vermont.

So, when my twin brother wanted to visit colleges in the South I tagged along and completely fell in love with the history and culture of Charleston, applied and now here I am!

What all are you involved in on campus?

As a freshman I joined Chi Omega, which has been a huge part of my life ever since. I also joined Phi Eta Sigma, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honor Society. As a sophomore, I became involved with the Office of Sustainability as a Greek Life representative for Chi Omega, as well as assisting Dr. Allison Sterrett-Krause with her personal research in Roman glass excavated from the Carthage Circus.

Now, I spend my time still assisting Dr. Sterrett-Krause and working in the Center for International Education as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor, and have had the honor of serving as both the Secretary of Chi Omega and now as the President.

As president of Chi Omega, what were your goals for the year for your sorority?

As president, my biggest goal for the year was to angle our marketing in order to highlight everything we do within the local community.

Nationally, Greek Life has been getting a lot of heat for claiming to be organizations based on strong moral principles yet all across the United States Greek Life is being removed from college campuses. In order to counteract such negative national publicity, I hope to promote the hard work we’ve done to not only better the Greek Community but the Charleston area as a whole. Our chapter alone has donated 5459 hours and $65091.54 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

What is your favorite part about your sorority and being involved with it? How has it shaped your experience at The College?

Saying Chi Omega has made me who I am seems like an understatement. When I came to The College, I was incredibly shy and easily intimidated. My Mom practically forced me to rush, convincing me that if I didn’t I would miss an opportunity and she couldn’t have been more right.

As I went through recruitment so many things overwhelmed me. Firstly, everyone at the College of Charleston is gorgeous. I had seriously never seen so many beautiful girls in one place, period. Secondly, each organization was so welcoming and kind to me that I genuinely didn’t know which one would suit me best, until I got to Chi Omega. When I got a bid it all seemed sort of surreal. I was beyond excited but again so intimidated. I was surrounded by a group of loud, charismatic, confident girls that seemed to have it so together that I thought there’s no way I can actually fit in here.

I remember sitting at the beach on bid day thinking to myself “I give it two weeks before I drop.” But then, two girls sitting next to me leaned over and started a conversation and now, to this day, those two girls are some of my best friends.

Being nominated for secretary was a huge surprise to me, but I loved ever minute of it. The first time I stood up at chapter to address all 160 members I got the biggest heat rash and couldn’t stop shaking. I was so afraid. But chapter after chapter, it got easier and sooner or later I started truly enjoying the opportunity to make announcements to my sisters. After sending innumerable emails, Word Docs and spreadsheets I can proudly say I am a master of organization.

Chi Omega has not only given me an amazing group of friends, but also truly prepared me for the business world. Through being a part of this organization I have found my voice; as an adult, leader and individual. Being a Chi Omega has made me who I am today and I truly can’t imagine what my college experience would have been like without it.

As a world traveler, where all have you been and what has been one of your best or favorite experiences?

Traveling is absolutely one of my biggest passions in life. The first time I left the country I was 9 years old and went to London with my family for two weeks and all I can remember was that my feet hurt from walking so much and that after day three all of the castles started to blend together

Since that first trip overseas, I have been to Mexico ,where I got sun poisoning; Rome, Florence, Capri, Pompeii, Naples, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Bratislava (Slovakia) and all over Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Germany.

Out of all my travels Slovenia is the clear winner. Before I went to Slovenia, I couldn’t even pin it on a map and knew nothing about it. My twin brother and I backpacked for a month from Budapest, through Slovenia, to Austria and it simply blew us away. As we hiked from town to town we were greeted by the friendliest faces and enjoyed every bit of local culture, especially the goulash. I have never been anywhere so incredibly pure and beautiful.

How have these travel experiences benefitted you?

Through my travels abroad I’ve learned that nothing can prepare you for the sensation of seeing the images you study in person. The majority of my individual research has been dedicated to studying the work of Gustav Klimt*, so when I was in Vienna this past December and finally laid eyes on The Kiss and Judith, I immediately started crying.

Traveling abroad has given an incredible amount of depth and understanding to my education that has inspired me to dedicate my life to the research of art and architectural history.

*Gustav Klimt was an Austrian symbolist painter who focused on the female body through murals, paintings, sketches and portraits.

What is a motto you live by?

The background of my motto itself is a little bizarre, I’ll admit. While in Italy I had the opportunity to visit the Capuchin Monk Crypt in Rome. If you don’t know who the Capuchin Monks are or why their crypt is worth visiting––Google it! Inscribed leading into the crypt, there is a plaque that reads, “What you are now we once were, what we are now you will become.” This is freaky, I know, but the quote serves as a memento mori––a reminder of the inevitability of death.

You’re probably thinking I’m so strange right now, but hear me out. When I read this inscription it doesn’t seem morbid, but beautiful.

I lost my Dad to lung cancer when I was five years old, which has completely changed how I look at the world around me. Every day we have in this life should be spent to the fullest. Whether you’re with friends, family or even in the library working hard for a test, each day should be spent with purpose. While we don’t know when this life will end, we are aware of its inevitability, and should welcome it as a new beginning rather than an end.

I also view this quote as a reminder not to sweat the small stuff, for in the big picture of life all of those things are truly insignificant. Words like these inspire me to travel, push myself to be a better student, individual, sister and daughter and to live my life to the fullest.  

What words of wisdom do you have for future College of Charleston students and current underclassmen?

My words of wisdom to future CofC Students and underclassmen are that while at The College it is incredibly important to discover your sense of self. I believe that through getting involved, taking that extra class, going to that Abroad information session and just doing things to push your personal boundaries, you will learn more about yourself than you could imagine.

Even if it’s a total miss, you’re one step closer to figuring out what you’re truly looking for not only in your time here at CofC, but in life.

All photos courtesy of Sarah Cohen.

Born and raised in the northernmost state, Alaska, Marissa flew south to College of Charleston for a little more sun and a little more heat.  She believes a good life involves coffee, puppies, and more coffee and free time is her favorite thing not to have.  
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