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The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird!

Ashley Hauptman, Sigma Alpha president and sophomore agriculture communication and leadership major, gives #CAST50 the rundown about this professional agriculture sorority.

Tell us about Sigma Alpha! Can you tell us about what you do, your mission, vision, and values?

Sigma Alpha is a professional agricultural sorority that centers on our four pillars: scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship. Sigma Alpha was founded at The Ohio State University in 1978 because the founding members wanted more out of the Greek system than what was offered. Sigma Alpha-Beta Xi Chapter, the chapter here at Illinois State, was chartered in February of 2012. The mission of Sigma Alpha Sorority is “Cultivating professional women in agriculture,” and our goal is to provide our members with the professional tools to graduate and find a job within the agriculture industry.

“Three words I would use to describe Sigma Alpha and my experiences are opportunity, leadership, and family.”—President Ashley Hauptman

What role does Sigma Alpha play within the Department of Agriculture?

We serve as a Greek RSO (registered student organization) for students within the Department of Agriculture. The Ropp Agriculture building is sort of our “hub” on campus; our chapter meetings and different activities that we do are held there. Sigma Alpha also participates in different activities done by the department or other RSOs, such as homecoming decorating with CFFA or the Mr. Ag Pageant by Alpha Zeta. Sigma Alpha sisters travel to a regional conference every year, this year it was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to learn about developing ourselves as professional women in the agriculture industry. There is also a national convention or national conclave, which is held every other year respectively, that we send some of our women to as well.

Does Sigma Alpha participate in community service or any community activities?

The biggest event that Sigma Alpha puts on is our annual Basket Auction on behalf of our philanthropy, Agriculture in the Classroom. Ag in the Classroom is an organization that provides K–12 teachers with the tools and means to bring agriculture into their classrooms of students. Our sixth annual Basket Auction was held on Saturday, March 25, 2017, and as a chapter we raised $4,287 for this amazing organization. Our chapter also volunteers at community service events throughout the year. Giving back to the community and to our philanthropy is something that means a lot to our members!

Sigma Alpha President Ashley Hauptman

What types of positions are in Sigma Alpha? Can you tell us about your executive board, the current positions, and who holds them?

Our officer team consists of 14 positions, with our executive board being six of those. Each officer has its own jobs and responsibilities, but all of us work together in order to successfully run our chapter.

Our executive board is as follows:

  • Ashley Hauptman—president
  • Amanda Diesburg—first vice president, in charge of social media and public relations of the chapter
  • Susie Thompson—second vice presidnet, in charge of new member education
  • Sarah Kilver—secretary, in charge of taking meeting minutes and is the chair of the Professional Development committee
  • Bryanna Fesser—treasurer, in charge of our budget and is chair of the Fundraising committee
  • Hailey Holder—rush chair, in charge of our planning rush events that we host

Does Sigma Alpha have any additional committees or leadership positions? If so, can you tell us about them?

Other leadership positions that we have are as follows:

  • Rebecca Klump—philanthropy chair, in charge of planning our philanthropy and community service events.
  • Kealy Fitzsimmon—social/sisterhood chair, plans different sisterhood events and events with other RSOs or Greek Life.
  • Abby Jacobs—scholarship chair, in charge of maintaining chapter grades and planning different events for us to work on scholarship.
  • Danielle Cornwell— alumni liaison, works with the alumni of our chapter.
  • Haley Craig—historian, works on planning a Founders Day activity for alumni and active members every year.
  • Meghan Wilson—risk manager, in charge of making sure all of our events are recorded and within guidelines of the university.
  • Rachel Eads—parliamentarian, responsible for Roberts Rules of Order in meetings, and knowing the chapter’s bylaws.
  • Kati Lothson and Hannah Meyer—panhellenic delegates, work with the Fraternity and Sorority Office and serve as liaisons to us and the College PanHellenic Greek Council.

What is something special about Sigma Alpha that sets your sorority apart?

Sigma Alpha is different from other sororities on campus because we are a professional agricultural sorority. Us being a “specialized” sorority, you meet more people and are able to network with more people in our specific interest area. We are still a somewhat social sorority as well, but we are mainly classified as professional. We are less about the party aspect, and more about the paycheck at the end of the day!

“Being in Sigma Alpha has taught me so much more than just Greek letters and sorority hand signs.”—President Ashley Hauptman 

You are asked to describe Sigma Alpha in three words. What do you say?

Three words I would use to describe Sigma Alpha and my experience in Sigma Alpha are opportunity, leadership, and family. These girls have turned into my family; I consider my sisters some of my best friends. I have also gained so many different leadership skills from being in this sorority. And, the opportunities are endless. I had no idea that as a sophomore, I would become the president of our chapter, and just being handed that opportunity alone has been one of my greatest accomplishments to date. I am very pro-Greek system because I see the greatness that has come from it, but being in Sigma Alpha has taught me so much more than just Greek letters and sorority hand signs.

Anything else you would like to tell us about Sigma Alpha?

Getting involved in college is something that I recommend for everyone. Whether it’s in the Greek system or not, you should become involved in something. Sigma Alpha really is such an amazing organization, and I’m thankful every single day that I get to be apart of it. And, we are not just limited to agriculture majors. If you have a passion for agriculture, consider joining. If you are interested in joining our organization, please reach out to us! We will be having rush in September, so please come if you are interested!