Sarah Shannon/The Daily Evergreen As the president of Panhellenic, a philanthropist in New Orleans and a successful WSU student, one Kappa Delta sorority member received two awards from her sorority’s national chapter this month at a conference in Atlanta.
Elise Van Vuren, a junior psychology major and award recipient, received the Corre Anding Stegall Collegiate Leadership Award, given to 17 members nationally, and the Sara Davies Kravik Sigma Tau Scholarship. The national chapter bases the honors on high academic performance and exemplary leadership in the chapter, campus and community.
Julie Wendell, the WSU Kappa Delta Chapter Advisory Board chair, said she and six other alumni nominated Van Vuren because of her strong sense of integrity and achievements.
“What you see is definitely what you get with her,” Wendell said. “She holds up the qualities of what every member of the Greek community should strive to be.”
The applicant pools for these national awards are huge, Wendell said. Van Vuren is well deserving of the award because she is humble and is a key member of any community in which she contributes, she said.
“It’s just such an honor for someone to be recognized at a national level from any of the schools,” Wendell said. “The fact that Elise was honored for both awards is a huge honor for both her and the WSU Kappa Delta chapter.”
Van Vuren said volunteering in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, an activity recognized by the awards, is non-profit work she plans to continue. She recruits volunteers from both high school and collegiate communities, but the best experience she had occurred last Spring Break when she took her sorority down to New Orleans.
“Doing hard labor empowered the women of my sorority to realize that they really can do anything,” Van Vuren said. “New Orleans just has a vibrant spirit about it. They don’t care what your past is, they are just glad that you are coming back."
Working on Panhellenic has taught her to understand the big picture of helping balance student relations, interactions and perspectives, Van Vuren said. The people on the council of sororities and fraternities are passionate and opinionated, pushing her to grow and be creative, she said.
“It has been interesting to see how we can pull the best from students and administration,” Van Vuren said.
Jordan Casey, a senior apparel merchandising and textiles major, said as Van Vuren’s “big sister” in the Kappa Delta sorority, she knows Van Vuren puts everyone she meets before herself. Even though Casey is supposed to be her mentor, Casey said she feels Van Vuren is more of a mentor to her and has made her a better person.
“I think her future is incredibly bright, and she is going to be able to do whatever she wants,” Casey said. “She is going to be someone you read about because she can do whatever she sets her mind to.”
Van Vuren said she hopes to start her own business in the future to continue her innovation and to support leadership in environments like Greek communities. Her own sorority has allowed her to grow to be her own open and quirky self, she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed my sorority because the women in it are so authentic,” Van Vuren said. “They have that excited charisma about them, and whatever they do, the women in my chapter do it with their whole heart. They aren’t afraid to be who they are.”