When Issy Rushton was 15, she traveled 7,000 miles from her home in Queensland, Australia to the state of Oregon.
On this six-month high school exchange program, Issy “fell in love with everything to do with the U.S.” and decided she wanted the American college experience.
“In Australia, we don’t live on campus, we don’t have Greek life, we don’t have college sports,” she explains.
“You go to class and go home.” After researching 40 U.S. colleges and convincing her parents, Issy chose to attend the University of South Carolina for her full undergraduate degree.
In 2017, she boarded a plane and set out for one of the most American traditions – sorority recruitment.
“I knew right from the start I wanted to go through recruitment,” she says.
“I basically knew absolutely nothing though.” Issy quickly fell in love with the Theta Upsilon chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.
“The connection I had in Alpha Chi from round one was something different,” she explains.
“I felt I could be me and be vulnerable, especially as a freshman coming in from a different country. It was my home right from the start.”
Issy didn’t realize when accepting her bid what she does now as a junior – the impact Alpha Chi Omega would have on her life.
“Joining Alpha Chi my freshman year really allowed me to make leaps and bounds in joining other organizations and being successful in my studies,” she says.
“It has really become the foundation for me in terms of friendship and development…I found my feet and my ability to lead through Alpha Chi.”
year, setting her on a course for leadership roles and involvement in everything from being a university ambassador to helping found The Big Event project on campus.
And in 2019, she became president of the Theta Upsilon chapter. “I definitely did not ever expect to one day become a chapter president,” Issy says.
She points out valuable lessons from her chapter leadership experience, like the importance of being a support system and listening.
“I think it’s easy in a leadership role to take charge and make decisions, but it takes a special person to sit down and hear differing opinions from people.
It’s important to make everyone feel like a someone. I live by that.
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