We’re launching a multi-part series this summer called #MeetTheMus, where we’ll introduce one of our Phi Mu Foundation Trustees each week, and give you an inside peek at what drives their passion for the lifetime development of Phi Mu women!
First up, Past Phi Mu Foundation President and current Trustee Diane Hawkins Eggert.
What made your collegiate Phi Mu experience special?
The closeness of my sorority sisters. Compared to today’s chapter sizes, we would be considered very small – about 50 members. It was easy to get to know almost all the members in a very significant way, we knew their backgrounds, their hometowns, their families. It was not uncommon for house roommates to be from different pledge classes or even college classes – I had roommates that were Juniors and Seniors when I was a Sophomore. We have kept that closeness through many years – a group of us have gotten together annually for many, many years.
I will always remember the trip together in August 2014 – my husband had passed away recently, one of the members of our group died very suddenly at the same time , and another member’s ALS was progressing – we still came together. There were many tears but then there were many happy times – laughing as we remembered some crazy experiences from our past and our collegiate days. It gave us strength but also peace knowing that we had the incredible support from each other.
What (or who) influenced you to give back to Phi Mu as a volunteer?
Giving back just came naturally to me because Phi Mu gave me so much. I wanted to ensure that others had as rich as Phi Mu experience as I had. Not only did Phi Mu give me a family during my college days, but it ensured that I would never be a stranger in a new town! When I moved into a new area, all I had to do is find out where the nearest Phi Mu Alumnae chapter was! I was part of the Annapolis Phi Mu Alumnae for 20 years – far longer than my college days, and those women were an incredible social support system. When I moved to Birmingham, I found Phi Mu sisters through participation in the alumnae chapter, serving on the Alpha Gamma Advisory Council and participating in the Birmingham Panhellenic!
How has your journey in Phi Mu impacted the woman that you are today?
I believe that Phi Mu encouraged me to take on new leadership opportunities, both as a collegian and an alumnae. My very first Phi Mu position was as Parliamentarian! I knew nothing about parliamentary procedures, but I learned and became comfortable in the role. Many years later, Claudia Nemir, Eta Alpha, and then Phi Mu Foundation President, asked me to take on the role of Vice President Finance during the period we were constructing our Headquarters. I still remember Claudia cautioning me that with all that was happening, taking the job meant a ‘high burn rate!’ But I knew that I could do it and I knew that I would have the support of a fantastic group of women as I grew into the position.
What legacy do you hope to leave for Phi Mu through your work with the Foundation?
I hope that I have contributed to the continued growth of the Foundation. Nearly 100 women have sat on the Foundation Board of Trustees over the years, each giving her talents and making the Foundation stronger. In the very early days, these women took bold steps to ensure the viability of the Foundation by embarking on a fundraising campaign when the organization was in its infancy. Through the years, the women on the Board guided the Foundation through some difficult times, when we could not afford a professional staff, during downturn in the economic climate, and through the challenge to fundraise and build our Headquarters. I hope that my participation has built on their efforts and the Foundation is a more vibrant, more strategic, more professional organization.
What would you tell a young alumna about why she should invest with the Foundation?
You get by giving. Donating to our sisterhood makes our organization stronger and enables us to keep women in school, provides life-changing leadership experiences for our collegians, helps our sisters facing distressing situations, and ensures that our legacy is preserved. Each of these missions benefit our donors in direct and intangible ways. You get the satisfaction of helping women thrive.
What is your favorite song on the radio right now?
I am sure “Hey Jude” by the Beatles is playing on the radio somewhere! (You can imagine how thrilled I was when my grandson told me that he liked the Beatles!)
What book is on your summer reading list?
I am not sure I will get to them all but waiting on my bedside table are: Three Sisters, Three Queens, Philippa Gregory; Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen; Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel; Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders; and Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
What is your favorite Phi Mu tradition?
This is very old school, but passing the candle for a significant event in a sisters life – with the lights low and the candle light glowing on each sisters face as it is passed around the room, with the chapter signing, “Picture a Girl” – I love it!