By Kristine “Aster” Medina, Assistant Editor

Staff Note: To kick off Women’s History Month, we’re featuring the charters of our newly established chapter at Iowa State University!

Eight collegiate women chartered the sixteenth chapter of Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. on March 1, 2015 at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Their former interest group PEARL, which stood for peace, elegance, ambition, respect and leadership, was established in November 2013. The membership began with three and eventually spread to eight women, now known as the Empowering Eight.

“Delta Phi Lambda’s efforts inspired us to not only establish our interest group but also continue our pursuit to charter despite our struggles,” Jasmine Au said.

Au served as the president of PEARL and stands among one of the eight women of the charter class. The Empowering Eight include Mariah “CONTRAST” Johnson, Lydia “Chartreuse” Tsui, Hana “Cornellia” Kim, Glory “Endure” Peng, Jasmine “Werisfesteria” Au, Linh “Resilience” Phan, Houa “Manifesto” Vang and Jackie “Voyance” Khamma.

Iowa State Charters in Chicago

Iowa State Charters with their Charter Member Educator, Jaleesa Reed, in Chicago.

“Our goal for the future is to make a difference at Iowa State University and throughout our community,” Au said. “We look forward to wearing our letters and for people to recognize us as an accomplished sorority. When people see our letters, we want them to know who we are and associate us as not simply an Asian-interest sorority but as the sorority who is involved and has changed our campus.”

Jaleesa Reed and Jennifer Albesa, Charter Member Educators for Iowa State University

Jaleesa Reed and Jennifer Albesa, Charter Member Educators for Iowa State University

With the tenacity of their affiliate member educators, Jaleesa Reed and Jennifer Albesa, these eight women have also chartered the first Asian-interest sorority at Iowa State and became Delta Phi Lambda’s first successful, nationally led expansion.

“A lot of them have dealt with stereotypes firsthand on their campus, and I think they will be a chapter that really strives to raise Asian awareness at Iowa State in order to create a more welcoming environment for international students while also educating their campus on how Asian Americans are more than stereotypes,” Reed, affiliate member educator and national director of new member services, said.

Passion is what gave the Empowering Eight the fire to pursue the Everlasting Sisterhood. Reed said they are very passionate about the sorority’s mission in advocating Asian awareness and empowering women. She hopes the charters continue to hone that passion.

“They are passionate, ambitious and have a lot of empathy for each other and others in their community, and I hope that stays with them forever, not just as a representative of us nationally but because that’s how their chapter started,” Reed said

Albesa, the assistant affiliate member educator, describes the Empowering Eight as inspirational through their continuous efforts to create bonds and a safe space for teaching others about stereotypes.

“What’s most inspiring to me is their passion,” she said. “I’ve seen their passion to educate others, to dispel stereotypes and racial and gender biases. I have also seen their desire to charter not just a sorority but a family, a place where women at their university can feel safe, loved, appreciated and understood. Though this expansion endeavor was nationally led, I know that neither I nor my team could have been successful without these ladies’ dedication and determination.”

Throughout the education process, Albesa said she has observed the charters, from being strangers to becoming one line. She has listened to their stories and seen their depth of communication toward each other.

“My advice is to not let this be the end of your legacy,” Albesa said. “Chartering the first Asian-interest sorority at a university is a huge accomplishment. Huge! As a charter member, myself, I recognize the impact of this accomplishment. However, the work needed to preserve the organization and continue our mission doesn’t end with chartering or even after we graduate.”

Before her role as the assistant affiliate member educator, Albesa was first known as the national vice president of expansion of Delta Phi Lambda to the eight women who chartered. Going forward with the sorority’s and her expansion goals, she continues to aspire making the opportunity to “be better, to learn, to educate and to unite people” available for women.

“The more our organization grows, whether it be on a chapter level or expansion to a new university, there are more women whose lives are being impacted and are, in turn, impacting the lives of others,” she said. “It’s a ripple effect that I would like to continue to share; if not within my term, then sometime soon with the west coast.”

In continuing the start of their journey as a chapter of Delta Phi Lambda, the Empowering Eight of Iowa State will be attending the Midwest Regional Formal in Cincinnati, OH.

The following video, released at 12:00 a.m. CST earlier today, reveals the Empowering Eight.