On the 164th anniversary of Sigma Chi’s founding, Central Michigan University chapter sweetheart Lauren Lewallen was awarded the opportunity of a lifetime following an undergraduate delegate vote at the 82nd Grand Chapter in Salt Lake City.
Lewallen was named the 2019 to 2021 International Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.
Now representing the more than 255,000 living undergraduate and alumni members over the next two years, Lewallen will act as an ambassador for Sigma Chi through her support of philanthropic efforts, provide her unique perspective on important programs and initiatives, assist in marketing and communication efforts, and represent the Fraternity at key events.
A junior at Central Michigan University, Lewallen is studying elementary education with a focus on social studies and history for grades K-8. She is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity and the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute, where she has served as a leadership guide and member of the institute’s mentoring staff.
In this special interview with sigmachi.org, Lewallen outlines her experience with Sigma Chi, her goals for the International Sweetheart position and much more.
Lauren Lewallen: Q&A
What was your first introduction to sigma chi?
Prior to joining the Gamma Omicron chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at CMU, the spring of my freshman year, I recognized and found out about Sigma Chi through their fall Derby Days week. This five-day program of events is notorious on my campus and is all the hype every fall.
At the time, I wasn’t in a Greek organization, so I didn’t attend any of the events myself being that I was pretty shy. Although I wasn’t in attendance, I continuously heard amazing things about Sigs and wanted to see for myself what everyone was raving about.
Once I officially joined ZTA, I began to blossom socially and attended Sigma Freeze, a hockey tournament hosted by the Zeta Rho chapter of Sigma Chi every spring semester. What’s really neat about this event is that it involves each of the Greek organizations on campus, allowing both women and men of other organizations to collaborate and get to know each other, building relationships and networking.
Immediately I was drawn to Sigma Chi and realized that these were the people I best connected with and wanted to be around. I was already friends with some brothers at this point but decided I wanted to grow my relationships with all of these men. It was no secret that they were special.
From there, I went on to get to know brothers more personally and began to fall in love with the fraternity more and more every day. Far before being elected chapter sweetheart, I knew the men of Zeta Rho loved, supported, and valued me. The care that I received is what initially sparked my ambitions to run for chapter sweetheart, as I wanted to do all in my power to give back to my chapter that had given me everything.
How has the experience as chapter sweetheart at Central Michigan prepared you for this new role?
Although I have only served as chapter sweetheart for a semester, I feel more than prepared to begin my term as International Sweetheart of the Fraternity. The men of my chapter constantly remind me of my worth and are a key reason for the confidence I carry today. No matter what, I know that I will always have the unwavering support of my chapter, which has been comforting and relieving to remember throughout this experience.
A favorite quote of mine by renowned journalist Edmund Lee reads, “Surround yourself with the dreamers, and the doers, the believers, and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” The men of my chapter have taught me to do just this and I have seen these incredible qualities within every Sigma Chi I have had the honor to meet.
Whether it is an active brother, sweetheart, or alumni member; every individual in the Sigma Chi community radiates authenticity and displays genuine relations to all they meet. With this in mind, I am ready to begin my journey in this position. I am ready to take risks. I am ready to serve the fraternity and for to raise the bar even higher for all of fraternity and sorority life.
Reflecting on the beginning of my college journey, the young woman I was four years ago would be in awe of her transformation and overall progress made. From a shy, introverted incoming college student to a flourishing upcoming senior, I have grown in such extraordinary ways through my failures and struggles. Additionally, Sigma Chi has given me more leadership opportunities through the position of sweetheart than I ever imagined possible.
I hope to remind both sweethearts and brothers involved in this organization that the skills they are learning through the fraternity matter, are life changing, and must be shown to the world. The time I have spent teaching and learning from the men of Sigma Chi has changed my perspective on the world entirely. I will never be able to thank the Zeta Rho chapter enough for steering me to first fall in love with Sigma Chi and all that the fraternity embodies and stands for. I am beyond grateful to be given this opportunity to give back to the organization that has given me the world and am so ready to get started in this position!
What are some of your goals for the International Sweetheart role during your term?
When I was a kid, I was one who always knew exactly what I wanted to do and be when I grew up by what motivates and inspires me. I have always wanted to guide others which is why I hope to become to be a teacher in the near future.
In the position of International Sweetheart, I hope to not only teach, but learn from brothers and sweethearts alike over the two years of my term. Three major areas I hope to focus on throughout my time in the position include: advocating for important causes, development of networking and establishing goals (for fundraising specifically). I believe that my three goals will take the fraternity to the next level.
Number one is mental health. One important cause that I plan to advocate for is Mental Health Education and Awareness. Last year, a tragic event happened in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. There was a shooting at Central Michigan University and two individuals lost their lives. This incident served as a major wakeup call on my campus to mental health as a whole being that the reason for this incident traced back to mental health issues.
As a college student in 2019, there seem to be endless expectations for young people. Getting involved, earning good grades, searching for internships and having some sort of social life, are just a few. Taking on all of these things at once can potentially lead to mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addition, eating disorders and self-harm/suicide.
The Fraternity has already taken initiative on providing resources for mental health with the Sigma Chi Lifeline and the upcoming Strong Arms program made easily available to brothers. Although this is amazing, there is even more work to be done and in the works.
I am beyond excited to be part of the Reach Out app and cannot wait to advocate for it. I also plan to expand on healthy living and wellness as International Sweetheart and am ready to have vulnerable conversations with brothers. I am excited to have this opportunity to share my story and remind every single member of the Sigma Chi community that they are never alone.
Number two is networking and technology. Being a generation so heavily connected to technology, this opens an avenue for us to become more connected with one another as brothers and even sweethearts.
I plan to create an International Sweetheart blog. This will be a space for myself, the current International Sweetheart, to share my adventures such as traveling to other chapters and KTLW. Every member of our community should feel connected to their International Sweetheart.
In addition, every International and chapter sweetheart will be part of the sweetheart site with their own login. I would love to see a Sweetheart Spotlight once a month to show off all of the things these women are doing and curate ways that your current sweethearts may get involved with your chapters including event planning and fundraising, among other events.
Additionally, I hope to develop a curriculum for sweethearts as well as generally remind the Sigma Chi community and all people that women who serve the fraternity in this way are a valuable asset and key piece to the organization.
Number three, establishing goals for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
While causes hit home for many of us, some are affected more personally than others. Up until this year, I was never one of the people who could say they were personally affected. In the winter semester, I learned that my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and shortly after passed away.
This experience fuels my passion, like many of us, as a philanthropist to advocate for a cause close to my heart. I truly believe that with this common ground that we all share; we are the generation to end cancer.
A handful of chapters have raised the bar, creating the first ever 100K club. In addition, we have collectively raised more than $2.35 million dollars for the Institute this year. This would not be possible if chapters did not make the Huntsman Cancer Institute a top priority on their campuses.
My own chapter, the Zeta Rho Chapter at Central Michigan, is newer to the 20K club. While this is great, our work is not done. I believe that setting goals is important and plan to advocate for chapters to sit down and think, “What can we do to be even better and how do we get there?”
For philanthropy events such as Derby Days, some chapters may fall short of 20K while other chapters may hit the mark of 20K, 50K, or even 100K. Soon enough, Sigma Chi will have the 120K club, eventually 150K and even 200K. With this mindset, we will be the generation to eradicate cancer from the face of this earth.
Until this deadly disease is extinct, our work is never done and there is always more that everyone can do for this cause. We must remind not only our chapters, but campuses as a whole what we are raising funds for as well as how they are impacting lives.
For example, holding a seminar showing a film about Huntsman to the community will show why we do what we do and make fundraising that much more meaningful. I hope to implement ideas such as these to boost our fundraising energy in the Sigma Chi community as a whole.
One of the most important roles for our International Sweetheart is representing the work of Huntsman Cancer Institute to our chapters. During Grand Chapter, you were able to visit HCI and were crowned in the Sigma Chi Friendship Garden. What was that experience at Huntsman like, and how did it impact your view on the philanthropic efforts moving forward?
Having the opportunity to see the Huntsman Cancer Institute in person was absolutely breathtaking. The facility is indescribable, to say the least, and even more beautiful than I ever imagined. Pictures simply do not do it justice.
Sigma Chi has given me the opportunity to grow in my faith and realize that God has a plan for me and being the 36th International Sweetheart of Sigma Chi is part of it.
As I have mentioned to many, this time last year, I was only thinking of running for Zeta Rho Chapter Sweetheart and was on cloud nine after being elected this past December. I never once thought that I would have the honor to meet the International Sweetheart of the Fraternity let alone be one! Same with Huntsman, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever step foot near the facility, let alone be crowned International Sweetheart in the beloved Sigma Chi Friendship Garden.
I will never forget the crowning or when all Sigma Chis were singing the sweetheart song afterwards. The HCI was glowing and the song seemed to flow perfectly. It was nothing short of a dream! Being immersed in the culture of the institute was just as fantastic, and I hope to be greatly involved with Huntsman throughout my term and build relationships through the process.
It is clear that Huntsman has bound an army of people together to service and stand by that midst their battle against cancer. Sigma Chi’s outstanding relationship with the organization is what makes the fraternity stand out among others. Mr. Jon Huntsman Sr. could have easily made this foundation for profit to benefit himself, yet instead, he chose to give everything to the research and overall furthering to discover a cure for cancer.
Huntsman’s selflessness serves as a constant reminder relating to the significance of service that we, as philanthropists, should admire and emulate in our daily lives. Each Sigma Chi chapter and individual who chooses to contribute to the Huntsman Cancer Institute is embracing the exact ideals which initially inspired Huntsman to create this foundation to begin with.
Together, if we continue to go above and beyond in this way, we are the generation to end cancer. From this experience, I am fired up and will do all in my power to take our partnership with Huntsman to the next level. I plan to fight for all of those suffering and continue to grow fundraising efforts until the disease is forever destroyed.
- Favorite Color: Pink
- Favorite Food: Any type of seafood! Shrimp & lobster tail are my absolute favorites.
- Favorite Movie: The Parent Trap was my favorite as a kid. Everyone always said I looked a lot like Lindsey Lohan with my freckles and hair color, which I thought was the coolest.
- Favorite Television Show: Drake & Josh, forever a classic. I’m not a big television person, I’m more of a Netflix movie marathon type girl.
- Favorite Actor/Actress: Adam Sandler, for sure. He’s hilarious.
- Favorite Musician: Post Malone is definitely my go-to as of right now, but I am very open to all music and love exploring different artists though.
- Favorite Song: “Love on Top” by Beyoncé
- Favorite Celebrity Sigma Chi: Luke Bryan