“Congratulations, Ms. Chavarria. You have been accepted into The University of Texas at Austin,” my heart leaped for joy as I clenched the acceptance letter with excitement.

 

I ran to mami to share the news. Feelings of pride filled me as I began to think that all my hard work in high school had finally paid off. All of the school club meetings, the extracurricular sports, the honors classes, and dual credit classes were all well worth it now.

 

Graduation day came and I slowly started to realize that I was leaving behind everything that I was familiar and comfortable with only to be thrown into a strange place. Most of my friends would be attending community college or staying at home. I was the only one that was venturing to Austin to start a new chapter in my life.

 

It is worth mentioning that the hometown that I was born and raised in isn’t a thriving metropolitan city.  Not even close. I grew up in a small, country town with all of 1,401 people. Most of those people are predominantly white.

 

I didn’t realize then how my upbringing would have such an impact on the way I talked, the way I dressed, and the way I viewed my culture. My first week on campus is best summed up with two words: CULTURE SHOCK.

 

I had never seen so many people in one place. Over 50,000 students from all different backgrounds and all over the world were completely overwhelming for me. My naïveté was even more apparent when I realized that I had been so used to being the big fish in a small pond that I was now a tiny tadpole in an ocean of diversity.

 

I hated Austin. I cried everyday. I was alone and friendless. The big city was too much for me and I was ready to pack my bags and head home to Small Town, USA.

 

However, something happened that would soon change everything.

 

I met some sisters from Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. at an informational. I didn’t know that Latino organizations even existed! I remember sitting in the auditorium and watching their presentation knowing that I wanted everything that they encompassed. These women were beautiful. Confidence filled their bodies. Their intelligence shined through in the way they spoke when describing their majors. Most importantly, they loved each other. The way they laughed and played with one another made me jealous that I never had the privilege of having a sister.

 

I was sitting next to my future best friend and line sister and I knew that I had never wanted something so much. I gathered as much information as I could about the organization and the sisters before I applied.

 

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Three years after being initiated as a sister, I am still so proud to wear my letters. I have seen the older sisters that brought me into the organization move forward on to greater things in life: grad school, Teach for America, and successful careers. They have shaped me into the woman that I am now and everything that I have learned I apply it to other aspects of my life whether it be school, work, and everything in between.

 

The people I have met in the sorority and through the sorority have forever made an impact in my life. I have learned to be more open-minded and establish many networks that I can use to my advantage for the future.

 

This isn’t your stereotypical lifestyle that is splattered throughout the media. These are powerful women from all walks of life with passion and ambition to make a difference. A difference in someone’s life and eventually the world. These women are more than friends. They are my sisters, my future bridesmaids, my support system, and my biggest motivators.

 

SLG has my heart and I have finally found my home within a nation.