LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2017) — Meet Ellie Cahill, this year's Panhellenic president from Naperville, Illinois. Cahill is a political science and integrated strategic communication junior. She dove into Greek life as soon as she arrived at the University of Kentucky, and she's hasn't regretted one bit of it. This upbeat and outgoing student leader shares a little about her "see blue." experience in her "see blue." #selfie!
UKNow: What is your major and what year are you?
Ellie Cahill: I am a junior and I’m a political science and integrated strategic communication major.
UK: Where are you from?
EC: Naperville, Illinois.
UK: Tell me about your position in Panhellenic.
EC: So Panhellenic is the governing body over 15 of our Panhellenic organizations. As president, I oversee full council, chapter presidents, recruitment, council and exec councils and Panhellenic committees.
UK: When did you become president of Panhellenic?
EC: I was president-elect sophomore to junior year. So, December through next semester I will be president. It’s a two-year term when you get elected.
UK: What are some of the biggest, unexpected challenges you’ve had to face?
EC: Confrontation and crisis management. Whenever something goes wrong, usually the problem is there and it’s your job to address it. It’s easy for the chapter to look at you and get upset, but it’s diffusing problems all the time.
UK: What made you want to take on this position?
EC: Growing up, none of my family was Greek. It was a battle with my mom to let me go through recruitment. It was at Merit Weekend that we stopped at the booth and the former Panhellenic president was there working and my mom talked to her for 30 minutes. When I found out after recruitment that it was my pledge class that would be Panhellenic president, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
UK: What drew you to wanting to be a part of Greek Life?
EC: Being out of state I didn’t know anyone coming here. I knew I was going to be a lonely island coming here with in-state people. I wanted to get here and find a group of friends to not figure everything out on my own.
UK: What sorority are you in?
EC: Kappa Kappa Gamma.
UK: What do you plan to do with your degree?
EC: I think I want to go into political communications. So, work as communications director or press secretary for government politicians or other agencies.
UK: What else are you involved in?
EC: Majority is Panhellenic; I also do Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and I’m on the Student Conduct Hearing Board for students.
UK: Which teacher or staff member at UK has made a positive impact on you?
EC: Probably Emily Britt and Jenna Lyons, who are assistant directors for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
UK: Through your experience with Panhellenic, if you had to go through recruitment as a freshman again, would your outlook be different?
EC: Yes, I would have been 10 times less terrified going though recruitment. All I knew when I went through recruitment was there were 13 chapters. I knew nothing. I would tell myself now to relax and be myself. Chapter members don’t remember what you wore and they are genuinely looking to see who you are as a person and your story.
UK: What was your most memorable moment going through recruitment?
EC: I think my most memorable moment would be when I went through there was a terrible thunderstorm. It was thundering and lightning and pouring rain and I didn’t even think it was safe walking to the house. They postponed the rounds and I remember going into a house, still wet from the thunderstorm, and just sitting. The girls in the house were all saying to take off my shoes and relax. That was the first moment I actually relaxed during recruitment!
UK: Why did you choose UK?
EC: Both my mom and dad are from Kentucky and went here. My dad played football here back in the day, so I grew up coming to a game once a year. I went to the "see blue." U preview night in Chicago and I remember sitting at the presentation and thinking why even bother applying anywhere else? I knew UK was home. So, I filled out the application and got my acceptance two weeks later!
UK: What advice would you give incoming freshmen interested in going through recruitment?
EC: To have an open mind and to really look for women that are just like your friends back home. These are going to be your support systems through the next four years and after you graduate. Find a place where you’re going to thrive. They will push you academically and to get involved, but they will be your family at school.
UK: When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do?
EC: Check Twitter.
UK: Do you monitor social media as president of Panhellenic?
EC: Yes. During recruitment members are not allowed to post about specific sororities, so we monitor if all the chapters and accounts are posting appropriate things — which is a lot when there are 3,600 women. We are the second largest student organization.
UK: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
EC: Like 10 minutes, 15 maybe. I am really lazy when it comes to getting ready. I push it. How late can I sleep?
UK: Panhellenic strives to unite all sororities into a large Greek community. Do you think Panhellenic has made progress in this?
EC: I feel like it’s an uphill battle. When you join your chapter, you are so excited about that chapter and you forget to meet other people. Nationals came two weeks ago and did intake of our community and learned about it and they give us good advice to keep building. We have grown Panhellenic faster than we have known how to keep up with, but I think we are making progress and helping build it. As members get older and their classes get smaller, even just those little things help build community versus when you’re a freshman and just know your letters.
UK: What are spirit points?
EC: Spirit points are for philanthropy events. They create hype around an event. A lot of our events have a winner and a spirit point winner — someone really engaged with the philanthropy throughout the year. We try to have spirit points relate the philanthropy. Chi O (Chi Omega) had star wishes that you could write a note to a child to benefit their Make a Wish Foundation.
UK: What would you sing at karaoke night?
EC: "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.
UK: What’s your favorite emoji?
EC: The one smiling with the hands and it’s blushing. It’s very fitting — like when you’re being sassy, of funny or happy.
UK: What is your biggest fear?
EC: Bridges. I hate bridges. I have a recurring nightmare, not that often, that I'm driving over a bridge and it just breaks underneath me.
UK: What is your spirit animal?
EC: A golden retriever. They are really happy-go-lucky and always really excited to see you.
UK: If you could have lunch with a celeb, who would it be?
EC: Taylor Swift. I love her. I have seen her in concert like six times.
"see blue." #selfies will appear every other Tuesday on UKNow. Know a student leader we should feature? Contact Rebecca Stratton at email@example.com to nominate someone.
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