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Helenes Love & All of Mine

As a writer, whenever I find myself at a loss of words to extend appreciation or perspectives on a particular topic, I get frustrated and anxious. I sit at my desk, feeling my fingers grow with turmoil as they hit my keyboard harder and harder, as if this will expel some sort of semblance of a coherent thought. I find myself in the midst of this phenomenon upon trying to reflect on my time as a Helene after only one semester, but I’ve decided to give it my best go. I hope you’re able to make something of my brain dump surrounding the official hostesses of USC.

I remember when I first read that, official hostesses. I was confused initially, if I’m allowed to admit that. Hostess? That was my summer job. Why would anyone willingly give back to a school already demanding a hefty tuition and a heavier mental energy from me? It turns out I would within my first few weeks at USC.

I first saw Helenes on Trousdale after a particularly demanding writing class, leaving me questioning if I had made the right decision and dishing out a sizable entree of imposter syndrome left for me to digest on my own. I saw red cardigans and gold name tags promising family and a supportive environment. It was just what I needed at the time, an outlet to rely on and develop through the next four years I had under the belt.

Although I was initially intimidated by the 100+ term Quizlet I was left to memorize in Leavey Library and a daunting interview, I knew I had found my place when I felt the rush of joy after receiving my acceptance phone call. Of course, this naturally followed my skepticism after our cult-esque initiation ceremony, including a candle-lighting at Mudd Hall. Yet, rose and creed in hand, I continued to feel at-home. I was a freshman and within the first month of college, I felt comfortable and safe, a feeling that has only continued to grow during my time in Helenes.

Thus far, I have learned the cultural impact of the Trojan Marching Band’s magnum opus, “Tusk,” the importance of guarding Hecuba during conquest week (and the even greater importance of the Village Starbucks late hours), and have learned why size doesn't matter, in regards to comparing the Helenes bench to the Knight’s equivalent. I have dressed in a pumpkin costume and met a platonic soulmate/mentor to look up to (and acknowledge as the coolest human to walk the Earth, Cameryn Baker), indulged in Yeah-You-Dids for my fellow Helenes (who constantly amaze me with their unique accomplishments and work ethics), and had a jam session in the middle of Alumni Park at Helenes Bench. I’ve given back to the South Central community and have received further DEI education. Of course, there have been many roses and thorns, where we are able to laugh and sympathize with each other.

I’ve come to the conclusion that describing Helenes is so difficult because of the inherent love that resides in it. I can’t explain the bond my rosebud class holds to my friends and family because only we understand it. I can’t share the same Study Hall dates because my big wouldn’t be there to be subjected to the latest trivialities of my life (that she’s legally obligated to sit through). I can’t divulge the intimacies we as an organization endure together because of the very nature of the word: they are ours to hold onto, to treasure and to keep, to foster and to nurture.

I’ve heard by several of our members that Helenes finds you when you need it most. It’s possible I wasn’t aware I needed it until I was sitting at our Install Tea last fall, chest swelling with gratitude at the new-found family I had stumbled across thanks to Trousdale.

So, yes. I am proud to be a Helene. And yes, our faces do launch a thousand ships.

Helenes Love & all of mine (truly),

Izzy Ster


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