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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn's first African-American Panhellenic sorority president shares her experience

She didn’t intend on going through recruitment.

In fact, Bria Randal, current Chi Omega president and the first African-American president of an Auburn Panhellenic sorority, did not sign up to go through recruitment until the day the form was due. She didn’t know much about it and was wary of just jumping into it.

She was finally convinced to sign up only after she talked with her friend’s mom who discussed how much her older daughter had gotten from her Panhellenic experience. After hearing about the friendships and connections her friend’s older sister associated with Greek life, Randal decided to try it.

Now, she’s thankful she made the decision she did.

“I think that rush is hard for anybody, but it was a good way for me to step out of my shell right away so I wouldn’t get locked into it,” Randal said.

Despite enjoying the process, Randal struggled at the beginning of her Panhellenic experience. She didn’t know many people, and it was hard for her to find a strong friend group.

She decided to get as involved as possible in Chi Omega and see if that would help her find her people.

It did. In getting involved, she found the people who cared about their organization.

“They also, in turn, care about people,” Randal said. “So they really built me up and motivated me and told me I could do things I didn’t really think I could.”

In addition to these friends, Randal attributed much of her success to older girls within Chi Omega who poured into her and motivated her to challenge and believe in herself.

Randal said as a freshman, it took her being told she could do something before she stretched herself to do it.

“I’m growing as a self-motivator, but at least in my younger years, I definitely had to hear it from other people,” Randal said.

Now she is at a point where she knows both her capabilities and limits and she challenges herself rather than needing an outside effort. She now uses that lesson to serve as the older girls who once helped her.

“You just kind of have to make sure that you’re integrating the people that are coming in,” Randal said. “A lot of people took me in a vulnerable phase and kind of formed me into someone that can now continue to form younger women into something.”

The guidance and investment of her mentors are eventually what led Randal to take on the role of president, and she strives to ensure the organization she leads focuses on bettering and empowering women.

Randal believes that sororities should be geared toward giving young women confidence to do what they want, not tell them what to do. She said everyone needs a foundation when they come to college to inspire them to grow.

“It’s not just Chi O but the women within it who made themselves my foundation and let me grow in whatever I wanted to be that makes it so special,” Randal said.

Randal believes a foundation for women is particularly important because women are often told there are things they can’t or shouldn’t do. She believes where boys are risk takers, girls are often hesitant. Randal wants to ensure young women do not feel limited by anything.

“Perfection used to be my main goal, but now it’s more so bravery,” Randal said. “To do anything and fail at anything.”

Randal said she’ll risk anything knowing she has a foundation of strong women who are going to catch her in failure, and she wants to be that for others, as well.

In this sense, Chi Omega is especially important to Randal because it is the vessel she uses to impact people.

Every week, Randal includes an inspiring quote at the end of her email announcements.

“Not the girly quotes, the motivating ones,” she added.

She focuses on quotes that emphasize internal over external qualities. Randal said that it can be a “tough environment” for young women surrounded all hours of the day by other young women who are attractive and extraordinary.

She employs simple tactics like using the word “brilliant” rather than “beautiful” to inspire betterment from within.

“I want to make it less so about what we look like and more so who each individual person is,” Randal said.

In regard to making sure Panhellenic is available to any young woman who wants to pursue it, no matter her racial, socioeconomic or regional background, Randal thinks the best ways for sororities to make all feel included is to minimize distractions and keep recruitment focused on the conversation.

“I walked into a sorority in a room of girls that didn’t look like me and might not be like me but was able to find exactly who I needed to be,” Randal said.

The conversations she had during recruitment are what made her feel welcome, not the decorations, she said.

The conversations that have continued into her senior year are what have made Chi Omega her home.

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