We had the privilege of interviewing UIC Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA) Latin Sorority, Incorporated – Epsilon Gamma Chapter‘s President Melanie Vazquez. In this interview, she shares her journey toward sisterhood, LTA’s national philanthropy, and their upcoming event Mr. Burgundy and Gray!
Name: Melanie Vazquez
HC: What has been your best experience at UIC thus far?
MV: My best experience at UIC actually happened not so long ago (October 14) at the UIC Pavilion. Through UIC’s Center for Student Involvement, I entered a raffle and won some tickets to the show “Wild ‘N Out.” The package also came with VIP passes to meet Nick Cannon and the cast. It was such a memorable night!
HC: Tell me more about Lambda Theta Alpha and your role as the president!
MV: Lambda Theta Alpha is a sisterhood based on unity, love, and respect that was established in 1975 at Kean University in New Jersey. We have chapters from the east coast all the way to the west coast and even in Puerto Rico. We are dedicated to providing social and cultural activities and carrying on charitable and educational programs. This academic school year, I am very honored to be the president of my sorority. It has definitely put my leadership, networking, and problem-solving skills to practice. I can say it has been a rollercoaster of experiences and feelings. It is a little scary to know that the chapter is under my wing, but I know I can count on my sisters as much as they can count on me.
HC: What exciting events does Lambda Theta Alpha have in store?
MV: As mentioned, Lambda Theta Alpha is dedicated to providing political, social, cultural, and educational events. So far this year, we did many volunteer events over the summer such as help the Fiesta Del Sol with their scholarship event at the National Museum of Mexican Art and their stand at their annual fair in Pilsen. During the beginning of the school year, we held a school supply drive to donate to schools with less resources. We have also held an abundance of fundraisers such as our hot dog, churro, and Krispy Kreme donut sale. Moreover, we also participated in National Voter Registration Day where we were registered UIC students to vote. This is only a glimpse of what Lambda Theta Alpha has done on campus so far, and a start with the many things we still have in store!
HC: Tell me more about LTA’s philanthropy, and I heard Mr. Burgundy and Gray is coming up. What’s Mr. Burgundy and Gray? Is this an annual event?
MV: Lambda Theta Alpha’s national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We became an official collegiate partner back in 2010, and an official partner of the annual St. Jude Walk/Run to end childhood cancer in 2014. As a national organization, we have raised $21,716 in 2012, $51,260 in 2014, and $72,336 just last year in 2016! Every year, our goal is to keep increasing that number. Chapters from all across the nation put forth amazing philanthropic events in efforts to raise funds. Of course, Epsilon Gamma here at UIC does not fall short in this mission. That is why we have created Mr. Burgundy and Gray to be one of the many events we host for St. Jude. Mr. Burgundy and Gray is an annual male pageant where organizations on campus participate by sending one or more male delegate(s) to represent them in the pageant. We have week-long events leading up to the actual pageant day where the participants have an opportunity to gain points for their total scorecard. The winner of the pageant gets to win a $100 check, sash, crown, and represent the ladies of Lambda Theta Alpha at our events! We also have lots of surprises in store at our event, so we cannot wait to see everyone there!
(Mr. Burgundy and Gray, 2015)
HC: What have you learned about yourself thus far? Is there anything that you would do differently if given the chance?
MV: I have learned that time management is KEY. Sometimes I want to be involved in everything and give a little of my time to every opportunity I come across, but that is not always the best decision for yourself. When you have a lot on your plate, it becomes hard to put your 100% in everything you are involved in, so it is important to set priorities. Always choose what will make you happy, help you grow, or will align with your mission and passion.
HC: What are you looking forward to accomplishing this school year?
MV: I am looking forward to growing as a person and keep discovering myself. I know many people bring up this phrase when it comes to stating what they would like to accomplish, but I strongly believe it is a valid goal. Your time as an undergraduate is a pivotal time in your life. You are discovering what career path is destined for you, you begin cherishing the relationships around you, and start mapping out your future. I hope to continue discovering new things about myself and to grow as an individual in order to be the best version of myself.
HC: If there is any advice you can share with other young women on our campus what would it be?
MV: Advice that I would give to other young women on campus is to step out of their comfort zone and to find their voice to speak up for what they believe in. Often times as women, we are shunned when we speak on our opinions, but that should be more of a reason to rise and organize. Also, by stepping out of your comfort zone, you realize many of your strengths and weaknesses and realize your potential.
HC: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share your story with us, Melanie. You are an inspiration and a role-model for other women on our campus. We wish you the best on your future endeavors and can’t wait to see what you will continue to do for our campus!
Collegiettes, don’t forget to check out UIC Lambda Theta Alpha’s Mr. Burgundy and Gray philanthropy event on November 30th, at 6:00 p.m. in the Illinois Room, where all proceeds go toward St. Jude Children’s Hospital!