05.07.12 / Category: Volunteer Spotlights

Graduates: Share Your Blessings, Save the World

Commencement exercises at the University of Virginia, June 1990. The day I made my “Fifty Things To Do (Before I’m 50)” List

Graduation is my favorite time of year on a college campus. Caps and gowns. Pomp and circumstance. Memories and expectations.  It’s a season of promise that leads us into the future together, and when the faculty procession begins each Spring, I quickly remember my own Commencement.

The morning of my graduation from the University of Virginia, I felt on top of the world. Before gathering at the Rotunda to walk down the lawn with my sisters and hear the conferring of my degree, I made a list of “Fifty Things To Do Before I’m 50.” It included places I wanted to visit (Africa, Israel), things I wanted to learn (American Sign Language, pilot a plane), and things I wanted to do (have children, skydive).  The rest of my life started that day, and I was ready!  Number 50 on that list was “share my blessings and save the world.”  But what did that mean?!

I must have realized even then, in a visceral way, what I know now in a tangible way: I have had opportunities that few women in the world have. I was the first person in my family to attend college, and I embraced every opportunity it afforded me  –  I joined the best sorority on campus (for me), fell in love, became a leader, earned my degree, and best of all, discovered myself. I left campus with a job and the support of my family, my faculty and my Fraternity. The future belonged to me.

Since graduating, I’ve crossed off 42 of the 50 items on the list. I learned sign language.  I’ve traveled the world. I have a family. Yet, every time I read #50, I wonder when – if – I’ll ever cross that one off. Have I shared my blessings? Have I saved the world? As an educated woman with a vast network of sisters and a commitment to “Doing Good,” I have the potential to do so. But how?

Co-author Sheryl WuDunn signed my copy of Half the Sky at a University of Richmond lecture, which I attended with Circle of Sisterhood founder Ginny Carroll. The book inspired the Circle of Sisterhood movement. It’s how I aim to fulfill #50 on “my list.”

Through the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, I’ve sent girls to school. I’ve kept a woman safe from rape because she could learn. I’ve given a woman an option for her life other than being sold as a sex slave. I’ve offered hope by offering access to an education.  I’ve helped hold up half the sky.

That’s all that #50 was ever about, and I’m doing it.

We’re doing it. The Circle of Sisterhood is doing it. 

By leveraging the collective influence of sorority women, we remove educational barriers for girls and women, uplifting them from poverty and oppression. That’s sisterhood, saving the world. And being saved, too.

Graduates, seize the day!  Consider all you’ve accomplished and what else you can accomplish as a result. Make a list if it would help. In doing so, consider that every girl in the world deserves the opportunity to feel the accomplishment and freedom you feel right now. Here’s to all the joys of graduation hopes and dreams – for women everywhere. Please, share your blessings and save the world!

Beth Searcy is a volunteer for the Circle of Sisterhood, primarily in the Grants Division. She is the International President of Delta Gamma Fraternity and Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Mary Washington. She resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and continues to work on her “Fifty Things To Do Before I’m 50” list.