Janise McKenzie was only on the job as the Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Georgia Tech for a few weeks before her co-worker asked her if she wanted to get involved with the Circle of Sisterhood. Little did she know that what her co-worker actually meant was that she was offering her an opportunity to go on a life-changing trek to a developing country. After her co-worker went into more detail about CofS and its Treks to break ground on schools that were funded by CofS donors, Janise knew this was an invitation that she could not turn down. While she was a little anxious at first to co-advise the Trek of 18 women from Georgia Tech, she was excited about the opportunity to help a team of amazing women break ground on a school in Africa that they raised the money to fund and that would empower girls and women through education. Through these Treks, CofS donors travel to their partner village to live and work in solidarity with the community members to start construction on the school. The treks teams work on the construction site alongside community members and participate in cultural experiences throughout the week as well.
“Leading up to the trek I loved seeing how the women realized that this Trek was bigger than them,” Janise said. “They knew it would push them out of their comfort zones, but not once did I see them doubt that they should be serving in this way.”
Janise remembers that The Trek wasn’t just one incredible moment, but a lot of little moments that made it an experience she will never forget. There was the love of the community, learning about Sass Mack-Satem, Senegal, and physically helping lay the foundation to the school. She found every moment “special”.
Since then, Janise has been working with the students she advises to raise awareness for CofS, as well as supporting many CofS events that the Panhellenic community is hosting on campus. She is proud of the work of CofS because education is the key to open doors for girls and women everywhere and education will eradicate poverty.
As the 10th Anniversary approaches, Janise is looking forward to seeing how the schools are doing and what the future holds for those who receive the grant money in the coming years. While there are challenges due to COVID for raising the money that will be awarded for future grants, Janise is optimistic that CofS will continue to thrive because of the strong support they have built within their circle of influence.
“Right now, we have had to rethink our philanthropy efforts,” Janise said. “We will work to figure out how we can still show up for CofS in a virtual world.”
Janise does not let the unknown stop her from doing good in the world, and we hope the same for you. Please join Janise, the board of trustees, staff, volunteers, and donors in donating on CofS’ Day of Giving September 30th. You can donate here. We also invite our entire Circle to be part of the 10th Anniversary virtual celebration featuring best-selling author Sheryl WuDunn, by clicking here to receive the official invite to this Zoom event on September 30th at 7pm ET.
As CofS shares more stories like Janise’s leading up to its Day of Giving, be sure to join the conversation by telling us about a time that you took a leap of faith to do good in the world. Be sure to tag CofS on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, as well as use #BeHerHero to come together as we work to open doors to opportunity through education.