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Greek Week President Discovers Leadership and Service Through Connections with Fraternity and Sorority Life

Candice Burnam finds the support for her personal success through the strong bonds of sisterhood.

Date: 4/13/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Ashley Kempher
Candice Burnam, a 21-year-old University of Cincinnati health sciences major from Madisonville, shares something in common with such well-known women as:

  • Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  • Susan Helms, U.S. astronaut and the first woman to live on the International Space Station
  • Former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins
  • Academy Award-winning actress Joanne Woodward
    Candice Burnam
    Candice Burnam

All of them are members of Chi Omega, billed as the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world with 173 collegiate chapters, including the 70-member Pi Alpha chapter on UC’s campus. Burnam, a UC junior and graduate of Walnut Hills High School, joined Chi Omega during her freshman year at UC.

“Chi Omega helped me become more of a leader. It really drew me out of my shell,” she says. “Looking back on my freshman year, I never would have dreamed I would be leading something like Greek Week or anything this huge. I have the support of everyone in the chapter.”

Burnam is president of UC’s Greek Week 2009, which will be held on campus April 20-25. This annual spring tradition, themed “The ’90s – Smells Like Greek Spirit” for 2009, celebrates UC’s 11 sororities and 21 fraternities as they come together to support the wishes of children sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Greek Week will wrap up efforts by UC’s sororities and fraternities to raise $36,000 for Make-A-Wish.

“I think Greek Week shows how every chapter is strongly dedicated to community service and giving back,” says Burnam.

Vicki Marsala Calonge, UC assistant director of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD), adds that each year, UC’s sororities and fraternities contribute more than 20,000 hours of service to the community and to their individual Greek philanthropies.

Burnam is one example. She’ll join a team of Chi Omegas at the largest student-organized fundraiser on campus, the April 24 Relay For Life benefit for the American Cancer Society to support cancer research and education. A fellow Chi Omega, Florence Lucas, is event chair of UC’s Relay For Life.

Burnam has found that by pursuing connections to campus such as the bonds with Chi Omega, she has built support systems for her own leadership goals and success. She says UC was the first university that she applied to, because it was close to home.

Candice Burnam

She says UC was also the best choice in helping her address her financial needs in pursuing a higher education. She’s a recipient of the Cincinnati Pride Grant, which, in combination with federal, state and institutional aid, provides full tuition and a book allowance for qualifying graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools. The grants are automatically renewed for up to four years, provided the student maintains federal guidelines for academic success, continues full-time enrollment for autumn, winter and spring quarters through graduation and remains in good standing with his or her academic program.

As a freshman, she made a discovery about UC: “Even though I was from Cincinnati, I really didn’t know a lot about UC, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions coming in. But what I found is that everyone here – faculty, staff and students – is extremely friendly.

Burnam has also pursued connections outside the classroom with Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, and the new Lutheran Student Fellowship Christian student organization.

“I used to think college was just about going to class, but there’s so much more. I love UC’s programming, such as Friday Night Live and the spring concerts,” she says. “There’s so much to do on campus, I just love it!”

But for now, there’s much ahead for the 22 UC fraternities and 11 sororities participating in UC’s Greek Week 2009. Let the games begin!

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