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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Iowa chapter.

As a freshman at the University of Iowa, I was initially really interested in Greek life and the opportunity to meet new people. I have to admit I was very intimidated by the whole process. I had heard about Alpha Phi Omega at several org-fairs and really enjoyed their F.R.I.E.N.D.S theme for this year. Since I was also involved in the Passport Project, an excellent first-year seminar, I was able to hear Jamie Gurgul speak about APO again. I went to an event to learn more the next day. I immediately fell in love with the organization and pledged the following Sunday. I can honestly say my time here at the University of Iowa would not have been as meaningful or enjoyable without APO. I am so honored to introduce to you the president of APO. Jamie Gurgul is without a doubt the most genuinely kind person that you will ever meet. She will go out of her way to make sure everyone feels welcome and can always be seen with a smile on her face. Jamie is very proud to be a part of APO and would love to share more about it.

How long have you been participating in Alpha Phi Omega, and what made you join?

I pledged APO at the beginning of my sophomore year at Iowa, so fall 2013. Prior to joining APO, I had a difficult time finding my place/niche on such a large campus at the University of Iowa. When I came across the mission of APO, I immediately knew I found my place!

What makes APO different than other organizations on campus?

APO is such a unique experience for all students because of its many parts. As a nonprofit organization, we are focused on three principles — leadership, friendship and service. Our organization plans 5-6 service events each week with various nonprofits in the area, like Petco Adoption Days or playing bingo at nursing homes. Additionally, we offer fun events for members to get to know each other, like study nights or dinners!

How would you describe APO?

To me, APO is a deeper college experience. College students often lose the true meaning of college, which is to find yourself. APO is a way to find yourself while doing amazing service work through Iowa City’s best nonprofit organizations. It’s not often that you can meet your best friends while doing this service work, as well!

What has been your favorite event in APO and why?

My absolute favorite event is ours is our semesterly retreat. This is where we all can get together and spend some time getting to know each other. This year, we played ‘Minute to Win It’ games and also created over 30 fleece blankets for Shelter House. I love getting to know everyone at this awesome event! It’s rare that all our members can be together at the same time.

Who should join APO? What would you tell those that are thinking about joining?

APO is open to EVERYONE! We are extremely inclusive as long as you’re a UI student. If you’re interested in joining, I would say DO IT! Joining APO was the best decision of my college career. I have met so many incredible people who have changed my life for the better.

When can new members join, and what should they know about the process?

APO takes new members at the beginning of each semester. Once you commit to joining, you begin a semester of “pledging.” Don’t fear, this isn’t as scary as it sounds! This is just a short transition period so you can learn more about the mission of our organization.

How has APO helped you during your time at Iowa?

APO has helped me in more ways than I can count! Because of the incredible service opportunities, I have had the chance to meet equally incredible people. This has brought me out of my shell since arriving to campus. I have developed SO many valuable leadership skills that I would have never done without APO! It’s truly a one-stop-shop.

How will your years in APO help you after you graduate?

I am currently working for a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a certificate in Fundraising and Philanthropy Communication. Therefore, APO has given me very valuable workplace skills that I would not have gotten otherwise. I have always loved the world of nonprofit organizations! Having the opportunity to operate one at the young age of 21 is amazing to say the least.

What are your plans after graduation, and will you continue to support APO in the future?

After graduation, I hope to work in public relations/fundraising for a nonprofit in the area. No matter where I am in life, I will ALWAYS support APO in any way I possibly can. I cannot wait to give to this organization in return for how much it has given me.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about APO?

No matter who you are or what you’re interested in, APO is for you. We have such a diverse membership population, and there will always be a place for you.

My name is Sarah Pippin, and I am from Marshalltown Iowa. I am studying Communications with a Writing Certificate in Writing for Media, and a minor in Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa. I am involved in service projects around campus and Iowa City as a member of Alpha Phi Omega Omicron. I also host Pippin Talk a talk show on Saturday's from 11am-12 on KRUI Iowa City 89.7 FM. I LOVE all things makeup and fashion. You can check out my blog at http://sispip85.wix.com/allmadeup I am an avid Grey's Anatomy, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Gossip Girl, and Gilmore Girls fan.
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