Being a member of the Alpha Iota chapter at Mercer University in Macon, GA, I have had the privilege of visiting Wesleyan College and the Cannonball House multiple times as a collegian. It is a tradition in my chapter to do a history tour on the day of initiation. We begin our tour at the Cannonball House. I still remember the first time I walked in; I honestly did not know what to expect. I really only knew two things about the Cannonball House: 1.) It had something to do with Phi Mu Fraternity and 2.) It was the only place a cannonball was fired at during Sherman’s March. So, I was a little bit confused but still overall, very excited! Walking into the Philomathean Room was an experience I will not forget easily. I saw pictures of our Founders hanging on the wall and a case full of badges. The badges were so beautiful that I could hardly take my eyes off them to listen to what our Historian was trying to say!
After the Cannonball House, we move on to visit Riverside Cemetery, where Martha Hardaway Redding is buried. Her gravestone is a beautiful, white quatrefoil that stands on a hill. You can see it from the road if you know where to look. Looking at the dates on her headstone always inspires me. It is amazing that at the age of 15 she would help start a society that would mean so much to so many women. She helped to create a bond that means more than just Love, Honor and Truth. It is an organization that shapes women into becoming philanthropists, leaders and scholars.
Alpha Iota’ s last stop before initiation is Wesleyan College, the original home of the Philomathean Society. While at Wesleyan, we get to see the plaques and the chandeliers, but my favorite is when we go to the archives. Wesleyan has preserved newspaper articles and photographs throughout the ages. It is very interesting to see how we as an organization have grown and evolved.
All of these things could not be possible without the continued support of the Phi Mu Foundation. Besides partially funding the preservation of these sites, the Foundation is also able to find new ways to make collegians appreciate them. I am currently a Senior and next month will be going on my 5th history tour. The more times you go on the tour the less exciting it can seem; in other words, it can seem more like a task instead of an fun visit. Fortunately, the Phi Mu Foundation funds leadership programs such as Officers’ Academy which has allowed us to interact with members from all over the country. While attending these programs, I have had conversations with other women about their traditions and experiences as a Phi Mu. I have come to realize that other people do not have the historical experience that we have during initiation, which brings to my attention the value of our history tour. While I often take it for granted, these conversations often remind me of how lucky I am to be able to see all of our history in my college town. Without donations to the Phi Mu Foundation, no one would be able to experience this unique piece of our history.
Guest Blog Contributor Mary Melissa Roland is a member of the Phi Mu Foundation Collegiate Leadership Council, a Phi Mu Foundation Scholarship Recipient and Chapter President of the Alpha Iota Chapter at Mercer University.