One of my favorite photos from Georgia Beta Installation Weekend was when I captured a photo of Vice President of Finance Lauren Petrella with former and current Grand Vice Presidents of Finance Illinois Beta-Delta Cara Ballard Sutcliffe, North Carolina Beta Carol Warren, and Kentucky Beta Rae Maier. I knew I had to spend time with Lauren to learn more about her story.
Lauren is from Erie, Pennsylvania, abut 12.5 hours from Atlanta where Emory University is located. When she made the decision to leave the northwest “Pennsylvania bubble”, Lauren knew that she wanted to take full advantage of what Emory had to offer. Since Lauren’s grandparents, mother, aunts, and brother are all in various Greek letter organizations, this is one way Lauren knew she could get involved.
During their first year of school, Emory University students are required to take a mandatory freshman class. It was during this class a representative of Fraternity and Sorority Life shared information about formal recruitment and the new chapter coming on to campus. Emory did not have her mother’s organization, Chi Omega, so Lauren texted her mother right away with the news that her grandmother’s organization, Pi Beta Phi, was coming to campus.
Lauren’s grandmother, Ohio Alpha Nancy Urich Jirik, attended Emory’s Parents Weekend in the fall and was glad Lauren was keeping her options open in deciding to participate in formal recruitment. Lauren described her grandmother as “kindly supportive” through the process.
Lauren believes everything happens for a reason. For her, it was almost as if joining Pi Phi was meant to be. With Pi Phi, Lauren knew she would be part of something where could make a difference, and she was ready to accept the responsibilities that come with starting a new chapter.
Lauren could not describe what it meant for her to continue her grandmother’s legacy. “One of the most meaningful experiences in my life was when my grandma pinned me at initiation,” says Lauren. “It is a snapshot moment I cannot forget.”