For Michelle Lauber, the sorority community at Florida Atlantic University's Boca Raton campus has been the source of direction as well as strong friendships.
Lauber, a 20-year-old Fort Myers native, wanted to really be plugged into FAU, so she chose Greek Life among several other activities.
And that's proven to be crucial.
"I am so grateful for Greek Life," Lauber said. "It has completely shaped my college career."
Lauber, a junior majoring in education, is vice president for administration on the executive board of the college's Pan-Hellenic Society, and works as the office assistant and secretary in the Office of Greek Life.
Despite a rigorous course load, Lauber is an active member of her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, the Fraternal Expansion Committee, and the Go Greek orientation team. She is also one of six students in the Elite Owls, a leadership ambassador program.
Among all of her involvements, Alpha Xi Delta is her main focus, because it has connected her to each of the other leadership opportunities she has been given. Her big sister in the sorority, Trina Holmsted, and the Greek Life coordinator, Ryan O'Rourke, have encouraged her and pushed her to get involved, she said.
"I'm a big believer in having a mentor, and the two of them have been there for me every step of the way," she said. "They have been very influential, and because of them, I want to cultivate young leaders the way they have cultivated my leadership skills."
O'Rourke said it's Lauber's character that he finds impressive.
"She doesn't apologize for having high standards. She realizes that other people may not have as high of standards, but that never causes her to lower hers," O'Rourke said. "Overall, I think she is an awesome role model. She isn't perfect and she knows she isn't perfect, but she is a fantastic role model."
Being part of the Greek community has spurred Lauber to consider a life in academia.
"I love being involved in Alpha Xi Delta and serving on the executive board of Pan-Hellenic, but mostly I love working in the Greek Life office because it's made me realize how passionate I am about college students," she said. "My new goal is to get a graduate degree in higher education, then work for student affairs at a university."
Lauber urges other FAU students to increase their involvement in campus life, and suggests that they visit the Breezeway tables during Clubfest, take a look at the Student Involvement Leadership Web site (www.fau.edu/sil), and use the campus resource center.
"Clubs and organizations want members. They are always looking for new people to join who want to be leaders," Lauber said. "It is a great opportunity and I suggest everyone to be involved in at least one area of extracurricular campus life."
Lauber said her key to success is organization and planning ahead. She maintains a grade-point average above 3.5 out of a possible 4 and has a steady boyfriend, but she also finds time for herself.
"Honestly, I am just a really good planner! I always complete assignments a week before their due dates because I know life will always throw something at me. That takes a lot of stress away… But most importantly, I need Michelle time. If I don't get Michelle time, I'll go crazy," she said, laughing.
Not long ago, Lauber interviewed for a position with Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honor society.
"If I am accepted, I would essentially continue doing what I've been doing: help volunteering, and promoting leadership and campus involvement. I hope I get in," she said at the time.
Lauber won the appointment.
The Greek Life contingent at FAU will be expanding soon, adding sororities this year and 2013. Lauber has been part of that growth in her work on the expansion committee.
"I am excited because adding new chapters will result in adding more leadership opportunities, and that is what I am so passionate about ― cultivating young leaders," she said.
FAU is now talking seriously about adding Greek housing on campus, which will be a multi-year process, Lauber said. But a Greek advancement that is more personal to her would be that the leaders and general members in Alpha Xi Delta, her own sorority, do their best to really refocus on the principles the sorority was founded on ― "Inspiring women to realize their potential" is the Alpha Xi Delta motto ― and become a more values-based organization.
After all, it's the sorority that has made Lauber's life so fulfilling.
"Not only have I made lifelong sisters and friends, but I have experienced amazing leadership opportunities and found something I want to do for the rest of my life," she said. "I have also met incredible mentors whose lessons will impact me in every aspect of my future. I am very blessed."