Member Spotlight: Danielle Levien

February 18, 2021

She fought for recognition and acceptance on campus, and persevered until she was taken seriously. At times, she wished that she had joined a more established chapter, but her valuable work as a founding sister made every hardship worth it. Danielle Levien’s, Pi Theta-Rollins (FL), story is one of passion, hard work, and dedication. She was chosen as one of Delta Zeta’s 35 Under 35 honorees in 2019, and rightfully so! We were lucky to hear more of her inspiring story and what Black History Month means to her.

 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a time to celebrate our community, culture and achievements. Many times when American history is taught in schools , it tends to be a very “white-centric” curriculum that doesn’t acknowledge the role that people of color have played in building this nation (both literally and figuratively). The lack of diversity and representation makes many in the Black community feel undervalued and unseen, and white folks may also have a misconception about our role in the country’s history as well.

 

Is there anything you wish your Delta Zeta sisters knew about Black culture?

We are not a monolith! Each individual has a completely different experience as a Black person in the United States, yet we are often asked to speak as if we represent the views of the entire population. I often hear an argument that starts with “Well my one Black friend says…” and takes that as the gospel truth about the matter at hand without considering other perspectives. Just like you, we all have different life experiences!

 

Tell us how your Delta Zeta journey began.

My journey to becoming a Delta Zeta was very different than the norm! I was a founder of the Pi Theta Chapter at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. A local sorority wanted to be absorbed by a national organization, and many sororities came to make a presentation about their sisterhood in hopes to be selected. I attended Delta Zeta’s presentation and felt a strong affiliation with their values and vision of sisterhood. I was excited about the opportunity to help shape the on-campus culture of the sorority from the ground up and provide a home to like-minded women and made the decision to serve as a founding sister. My name is actually the first on our chapter’s charter!

 

Were there any specific moments or people that made that particular milestone special?

Our alum chapter presidents Lucinda (Cindy) Brown Helton, Alpha Omicron- Brenau (GA) and Gwyn Orme Mercer, Alpha Sigma-Florida State! I have not met DZ’s that bleed pink and green more than these incredible ladies. They made us feel showered with love and supported as new sisters, really making Delta Zeta feel like a larger sisterhood than just our 20 or so founding members.

 

Tell us about a pivotal or empowering moment you have had as a member of Delta Zeta.

My time in Delta Zeta helped me grow in leadership through my service on the Panhellenic Council. I served as the public relations chair, and from there was selected to represent theGreek community at the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) the following summer. It was inspiring to be surrounded by Greek members from across the country who were dedicated to leadership and service, with ambitions to strengthen their community. I went on to serve as a recruitment counselor or Rho Gamma during recruitment and facilitator for our college’s Emerging Leadership Institute and really grew a love for mentoring young adults through their desire for growth and ability to “be the change”.

 

Tell us about your most fond memory as a Delta Zeta or a member who has made an impact on your life.

Serving as a founding sister was such a challenging, yet memorable, part of my collegiate experience. We had to work for recognition and acceptance on campus, as many did not take us seriously as the new kids in town. We struggled to even have them give us ten dedicated rooms located together in a dorm building while everyone else had a full house for their chapter! Working together to build our chapter was such an incredible bonding experience. While I had at times wished that I had joined a more established chapter, I wouldn’t have traded my experience as a founding sister for anything. It was an awesome opportunity to really leave a legacy.

 

How has your membership experience evolved as an alumna?

I’ve been able to serve as a mentor to collegiate members both professionally in my industry, as well as on a more personal level during my experience as New Member Advisor to the Pi Xi Chapter at the University of Central Florida . I’ve loved to help younger members grow and fulfill their goals and potential.

 

You walk truly in the light of the flame, Danielle! We are so grateful for you and your journey in Delta Zeta. We love celebrating you!

Want to share your Delta Zeta story? Email your story to LAMP@DELTAZETA.ORG.