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Catherine Smith, USF Panhellenic President

Catherine Smith is senior double majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology.  She is also the president of USF Panhellenic. HC USF caught up with the incredibly ambitious Belleair, Florida native to find out more about her prestigous position, her goals for the future and what she thinks you need to know about what it really means to be in a sorority. 

Her Campus USF: Why did you decide to join a sorority? 
Catherine Smith: “I actually had an unorthodox recruitment experience. I did not really know much about sororities when I was a freshman. However, after meeting a handful of sorority women and seeing how their sororities had helped them grow into confident women, I knew I had to check out this whole “sorority thing”. I decided in October of my sophomore year that I wanted to go through recruitment. Unfortunately, Panhellenic formal sorority recruitment only occurs once a year, in the Fall. I waited a year, until the following September, and went through recruitment as a junior. I had always heard that going through recruitment as an upperclassman put you at an extreme disadvantage, so I was incredibly nervous. I loved every second of the formal recruitment process, and I am still so thankful that I went through recruitment. I loved meeting women from each chapter, and finding my home away from home, here at USF.”
HC: What do you think USF women need to know about sorority life?
CS: “We are more than the stereotypes and there is no “ideal” sorority woman. What I love about Panhellenic is how diverse and different we are. I always encourage anyone who is even thinking about “going Greek” to go through recruitment, because there is a home for everyone in our community. “
HC: How did you become Panhellenic president?
CS: “There’s a slating process for the Panhellenic Executive Board that essentially involved you applying and interviewing with a representative from each sorority. These representatives then construct an ideal Executive Board, which is either approved or not approved by each sorority. I was fortunate enough to have experience on my own chapter’s Executive Board, and to have shown dedication through my Greek experience to Panhellenic. It is a huge honor to have been chosen.”
HC: What does your job entail?
CS: “The Panhellenic President largely oversees the strategic direction of our council. Panhellenic serves our sororities; that’s our one job, to make sure our sororities are successful, and operating efficiently and cohesively. I attend a lot of meetings with Student Affairs staff, as well as staff from other USF departments, with the other councils (IFC, NPHC and MGC), and with other students to discuss Panhellenic’s stance on matters and opportunities for Panhellenic.”
HC: Why did you choose your major? 
CS: “I have always been interested in sciences and in understanding people. I was somewhat intimidated by picking up a double major, but I am so glad that I did. Whenever my science courses get extremely tough, I always have some psychology courses that are so interesting to balance it out and keep me sane.”
HC: What other organizations are you involved in?
CS: “I am incredibly involved in my own sorority. I formerly served as both Scholarship Chair and then subsequently Executive Vice President. I also am a member of USF Golden Key and Pre-Medical American Student Association. I am always looking for more ways to get involved on campus.”
HC: What are your post-graduation plans?
CS: “After graduation, there is no doubt in my mind that I will continue my education. I want to attend graduate school, and eventually medical school. Also, after graduating I would love to stay actively involved with my sorority– working as a leadership consultant or as an advisor to collegiate members. I know wholeheartedly that I want to travel before I settle into my career, because I think often people put off traveling and then just never get around to it.”
HC: What is your dream job?
CS: “I ultimately want to be a medical doctor, after graduating with my medical doctorate, I would like to specialize in endocrinology and get involved in diabetes research.”
HC: Name a woman (fictional, real, deceased or alive) who inspires you and why.
CS: “I am constantly inspired and humbled by the primary founder of my sorority. She was a woman who valued high academic standards and friendship above all else, and I truly use her as a guide for my life. At the young age of 16, she founded an organization that has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands and still thrives today. I am continuously humbled that this woman, along with her 5 friends, created something that has changed my life so extensively and aspire to have a similar impact in the lives of other women.”
HC: Looking back, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself as a freshman? 
CS: “Do everything and do it regardless of whether or not you think it will benefit your future career. Being high achieving women, we often get caught up in what we are expected to do and what is required from our major. Often people put aside what they want to experience or get involved in, for resume builders. Don’t do this. Your twenties are not your “throw-away years.” Your twenties are a period of self-discovery. So don’t check boxes or worry about what people will think about you, instead do what you want to do and do it often.”
HC: What is your favorite quote? 
CS: To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” — Charles de Montesquieu. 
For more on USF Panhellenic Sorority Life visit:


Justine is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida. She received her B.A. in mass communcations in spring 2014. She was the 2013-2014 Campus Correspondent for Her Campus USF.She was also a News & Feature Writing Intern for College of Arts and Sciences and the Public Relations Campus Rep for Rent the Runway at USF. She is currently seeking agency experience and would love to someday work for a magazine, become a novelist, poet, editor, host of a Travel Channel show and much more.  She enjoys writing about fashion, beauty, art, literature, pop culture and student life. She spends most days listening to Lana del Rey, calming her nerves with various types of cheese, being sassy and trying to figure out when she can take a nap.Check out her website and portfolio here.She'd love you forever, if you followed her on Twitter @tinafigs_.Contact Justine regarding business inquires only at justinefigueroa@hercampus.com. 
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