Last week, College junior and Zeta Tau Alpha sister Jessica Stokes was elected president of the Panhellenic Council. This is the first time a member of ZTA has held a position on the Panhel executive board. Stokes sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss her plans for the upcoming year.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What positions have you held in the past that have helped prepare you for your new role on the Panhel board?
Jessica Stokes: In my sorority, I served as service chair for one term and then I was the director of philanthropy this year. I absolutely loved having a leadership position. I especially liked working with philanthropy because philanthropy is so much bigger than just the chapter itself. It was great exposure to working with people to create really successful events that people wanted to go to.
Outside of the Greek community, I’ve served as the president of Kite and Key. I ran the cafe in Harrison. I’ve just been really involved ever since I came to campus. I have lots of leadership experience and I’m ready to bring a lot of change to the Panhellenic, Greek and Penn communities.
DP: Why did you decide to run for president?
JS: I absolutely love my sorority, but more importantly, I love being a member of the Greek community. It has changed my life for the better. I have learned to become a better person, a better friend, a better leader and a better follower.
I had the option to run for something in my sorority, and it was a hard decision to not lead the girls who are so close to my heart. I really wanted to start giving back to the community that’s given so much to me. That’s what really drove my decision — I was ready to give more to all of the Panhellenic sisters, rather than just my sisters.
DP: What is your main goal as president?
JS: I definitely want everyone to know that my board is so approachable and so open to collaboration. I think that in the past, the board has not been quite as transparent as I want mine to be. I really want people to know who we are, and know where we are and know how to reach us.
I also want to really work on making an interactive process and including the Greek members in our planning, rather than just planning events for them. I want them to have a say in where our fundraiser money will go and what organizations our service events will support. I want to get feedback from the Greek community and hear what they want. This position is meant to serve the community. Bringing the Greek community to the next level is my top priority.
DP: Do you have any other priorities for the new board?
JS: I definitely want to include the Interfraternity and Multicultural Greek councils in our collaborations. I think it will be really fun to create friendly competitions between the sororities, fraternities and multicultural groups.
Additionally, I want to create more interaction between the individual sororities because truly we are all sisters. We are all part of the Greek community. I think it would be fun to get the girls to mix with each other. I want the girls to think of the Panhellenic community as a group of women who are beautiful, strong and powerful, rather than something they just pay dues for each month.
DP: How is your new position significant for your sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha?
JS: This is a huge step for us. It’s the first time that we’ve had a member on Panhellenic since we came to campus. All of the girls were so excited. I got so many text messages and they were so kind. I’m so happy to be their representative because they’re such a wonderful group of girls.