When you think of sorority what comes to mind? Is it running to your chapter chanting Chi O cheers on Bid Day or a specific Sister who embodies what it means to be loyal under any and all circumstances that became a lifelong friend? Do you think of the owl collection you’ve accumulated over the years or maybe your affinity for anything cardinal and straw? For our Sister Jean Mrasek, sorority is associated with a much wider perspective, one that encompasses all 26 National Panhellenic Conference organizations.
Jean’s love for Chi Omega and the entire fraternal world began right away. Even during her collegiate years at Epsilon Gamma/Tulsa she was an advocate for NPC and the importance of the sorority experience.
“After pledging a sorority, I felt an immediate sense of friendship with a network of women with common interests and values. This contributed to my confidence to excel inside and outside the classroom… I had a great sense of security and friendship as a sorority member at the University of Tulsa. There were upperclassmen and chapter officers who served as mentors and helped guide me to campus resources and encouraged me to get involved in campus activities. There were alumnae advisors who provided emotional support and taught me the value of lifelong commitment,” says Jean.
Her lessons on lifelong commitment to Chi Omega and the sorority experience are lessons we, as well as all of NPC, are grateful for today.
Jean’s Chi Omega service is enough to fill a small novel. She currently serves as Chi Omega’s Delegate to NPC, a role that she took on in 2008. She has also served as NPC Chairman 2013-2015, Chi Omega National President 2004-2008, Vice President of the Chi Omega Foundation 2004-2008, Chi Omega National Secretary 2002-2004, NPC Delegation 1993-2002, Chapter Advisor to Epsilon Gamma 1990-1999, Firesides Leader 1987, Workshop facilitator and presenter at Firesides and Conventions, Nominating Committee, and National Leadership Consultant 1983-1984.
Jean’s involvement as Chi Omega’s NPC Delegate and NPC Chairman have made impacts so large they are hard to fathom. Jean’s Interfraternal work is a culmination of her experiences in Chi Omega and working with a diverse group of women from all NPC organizations playing out in ways that have positively impacted the sorority experience for members of all 26 NPC organizations.
Established in 1902, the National Panhellenic Conference provides support and guidance to its members and serves as the national voice on contemporary issues of sorority life. The NPC is the world’s largest umbrella organization specifically charged with advancing the sorority experience.
“Often, college students and their parents have preconceived notions, both good and bad, about Greek organizations, while the mass media typically focus on the attention-grabbing raucous behavior of some fraternity members to the exclusion of all else,” says Jean.
As values-based organizations, the 26 members of NPC live their missions, validating that these negative preconceived notions are far from the whole truth. With leaders like Jean, NPC works to continuously progress and adapt the sorority experience to the ever-changing collegiate campuses.
During Jean’s term as NPC chairman she contributed to the 2015-2020 strategic plan, and in the 2014-2015 NPC Annual Report Jean stated the following:
“Our Panhellenic Creed states that as fraternity women we have the opportunity for wide and wise human service, through mutual respect and helpfulness. Striving to live by this tenet, we raise our voices to share the ways each of us advances sorority. Last fall, NPC adopted the 2015-20 strategic plan. It was the start of our journey to address three areas: educational support, growth management, and marketing and outreach. Embraced by all 26 NPC member organizations, this plan serves as NPC’s map in advancing the sorority experience together. It has been a transformational year for NPC. Our voice for the sorority experience was amplified in terms of advocacy and collaboration. The journey has been challenging at times, but we have leaned on each other for strength, advice, encouragement and comfort. This is the beauty of our NPC friendships that extend beyond badges. We flourish amid adversity. Indeed, we have moved from good to great by telling our sorority stories. When each of us raises our voice to speak up for sorority, we advance our cause. May this annual report serve as a reminder of all that we accomplished together during 2014-15 when we chose to take bold steps and raise our voices together as the voice for sorority advancement.”
When Jean became National President of Chi Omega in 2004 she also became the first ever legacy to fill that role.
“I am a Chi Omega legacy. My mother attended the same University of Tulsa chapter in the early 1950s, so it was wonderful to share that kind of similar chapter experience with regard to chapter size and location,” said Jean.
Jean isn’t shy about crediting those who came before her when it comes to talking about her successes in the fraternal world. In addition to being a legacy of her mother, Marilyn Hudson Mermoud, one of her biggest role models and mentors was former S.H. Kirk Bell Cocke. Jean has described Kirk as having “the upmost southern grace, while also remaining strong and firm in her words and her decisions.” One of Jean’s fondest memories of the former S.H. was that she had a charm bracelet that would jingle when she talked with her hands. When Jean became S.H. her Chi Omega Sisters who she shared this memory with gifted Jean a charm bracelet of her own.
Jean’s accolades include both Chi Omega honors and Interfraternal. She has been named a 2012 Chi Omega President’s Award recipient and a 1992 Outstanding Advisor to Epsilon Gamma Chapter by her Chi Omega Sisters and honored with the Delta Gamma Compass Award, Kappa Delta Order of the Diamond, Sigma Nu Regent’s Medallion of Merit, Kappa Alpha Order Accolade for Interfraternal Service, and the Silver Medal from NIC from her Interfraternal peers.
“Suffice it to say, sorority chapters offer authentic communities where people genuinely care about one another. The sorority setting encourages women to succeed in academics and supports women in their career pursuits. Results from the National Survey reinforce what we know to be true—that sorority membership enhances the college experience. Sorority members have a greater sense of belonging and this contributes to the desire to complete their college coursework and realize their career goals,” says Jean.
Jean continues fervently working to advance the collegiate experience for students across the nation. In addition to her work with the NPC, Jean is Chief of Staff in the Office of the Chancellor at Texas Christian University (TCU). She is also a former Director of Development for TCU’s College of Education.