114 - Uprooted

As many seniors leave their campuses for the last time and say goodbye to the Chi O houses that have held so many of their college memories, one senior put pen to paper to describe how she was feeling about this abrupt transition. All 181 of our Chi Omega chapters have moved off campus, and although we can agree that these steps are necessary for the safety of our Sisters and communities, seniors across the nation are mourning the loss of their “lasts.”

Chatham Kennedy is a Phi Delta initiate at Mississippi State University, where she previously served as the chapter’s Chaplain and Rush Information Co-Chair and currently serves as the Foundation Ambassador. Last spring, she attended the Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega and became a proud graduate of the program. She is pursuing a major in Social Work and a minor in English. Outside of school work and the Chi Omega house, she serves the university as a member of the Student Association Senate, Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, and Phi Alpha Honorary Social Work Society. In May, she will receive her Trauma-Informed Child Advocacy Certificate, and this fall, Chatham will embark upon her social work internship journey in Jackson, Mississippi. Having had her last semester on campus and her days in the Chi O house cut short, she shared with us her feelings as so many transition into a new normal.

Chatham Kennedy, left, with Phi Delta/Mississippi State Sisters

By Chatham Kennedy, Phi Delta/Mississippi State

I was unwillingly, uprooted. Although to be honest, I cannot recall a time when I willingly picked up any of my roots and let them sink deep in the earth below. Even when I left for college, I still clung to the roots of home. To the roots of Maclain and Sara Michael. To the roots of Jackson Prep. To the roots of all things familiar. When I left for summer, I kept some of my roots in Starkville. They were buried in Bowen Hall, the Student Association Office, and Local Culture. However, now, with the dawn of the unknowing, my roots feel all the more heavier because they weren’t prepped with the closure of a “goodbye.” Therefore, my roots hold ever so tightly to the Chi Omega house, to the place that shaped me, held my tears, and helped me stand back on my feet. They cling to the memories, to the 2.75 years where I walked down the same halls of my mother and her friends, the women who molded me. They latch onto the friendships made, the belly laughs, the encouraging words spoken and notes left upon my bed.

Chatham Kennedy, right, with her mother Gena Guest Kennedy, Phi Delta/Mississippi State, when she received her bid in 2017. 

As I look at these roots, there were some that are easy to let go: mandatory meetings, late nights of rush workshops, painting banners for who knows what event. But I would do every single one of these things again if it meant I would have the friendships I have today. I prayed for godly women. God sprinkled them throughout my path, in different seasons, in different pledge classes, in different ways. And boy am I thankful that He used Chi Omega to give them to me.

Chatham Kennedy, left, with her Phi Delta Sisters

I didn’t foresee my time as a Chi Omega ending this way. While I still have another semester left of college, it will not be in Starkville, and it will not be at Chi O. But I will continue to carry what both places have taught me as I move my roots back to Jackson. It will take a while for these roots to find the right soil, but I know that in God’s timing they will plant themselves and flourish.I will take the lessons I’ve learned over the past 2.75 years and use them to create triumphs and failures, overcome obstacles and barriers, and create life and love. With the lessons I have learned from Chi O, my time has come to pick up my roots.

I will always have a root buried under the chapter room of Chi O. I will think of her fondly and visit her often, maybe one day with my little girl. I will tell the girl of a time that was unprecedented and frightening but still good because it was a time when the world became reliant upon God once again. I will tell her that her mother had to leave her friends and her home at Chi O, and that when the root was cut off she bled cardinal and straw. But she did not falter. After all, she is discouraged never.