President's Spring 2021 Welcome Speech
100 years ago, in 1921, our founder Arabella de Oliviera created this spectacular organization, first known as the Amazons and later renamed the Helenes. Looking back, I wonder if Arabella knew the profound impact her actions would have, not just on our university and the surrounding Los Angeles community, but also on generations of Trojans that have been shaped and connected by this organization. For an entire century, we’ve carried on the traditions set forth by her while also challenging ourselves to evolve. The pillars of spirit, service, and sisterhood have carried us through the past decades, and right now these pillars are stronger than ever thanks to the unwavering commitment you’ve all made to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
There are thousands of Trojans who have come before you, with glowing candles, roses, and creeds in their hands, and pledged their commitment to this organization. They stood at the start of a journey that would shape their time at USC and utterly transform their lives for the better. You now stand, virtually, in the same position. 3.8 billion years of evolution, of paths crossing in an infinite universe have brought each of you here. Trust this timing of your life: you are all here, in a Rosebud class together for a reason. The memories you make will define your time at USC, and the bonds you form will carry you through life. Beyond just your Rosebud class, you will leave a lasting impression on our general membership and members of the larger LA community. It gives me goosebumps to think of the love and laughs that I’ll share with each of you in the near future and for years to follow.
During your time in Helenes, I hope you devote time to all that this org has to offer and go the extra mile to make meaningful relationships through virtual communication methods. Helenes is a kaleidoscope of colorful people and light. With each new hour you invest, you’ll discover something new and beautiful about the work we do and the bonds we share. For each minute I’ve spent with my fellow Helenes, the world has become a little less scary and a lot more hopeful.
I hope you hold on to the courage to be the truest version of yourself in Helenes. There are not many people I feel comfortable being my true self around, but almost all of those people are Helenes. I hope that you choose to be vulnerable with your fellow Rosebuds; without vulnerability, there is less risk, less fear, and less pain, but with it, there is more growth, more strength, and more love. If you take the brave step to open up to this family and devote time to the relationships within it, you’ll find that Helenes is not just an organization or an extracurricular. It is a family. It is a home. And it is the purest form of love.
Remember that you can always trust in this family to pick you up when you’re down and provide you support when you’re too scared to ask for it. This family will love you, cherish you, and fight on with you for life. When your cup is empty, Helenes will fill it. When you don’t remember who you really are, Helenes will help you find yourself again. The moment you stop
believing in yourself, Helenes will give you the courage and confidence to pursue your dreams, to accomplish things you never would’ve imagined for yourself. You haven’t yet met all the people that you will love, but many of them stand before you today in this Zoom. There is infinite potential ahead of you—you all are bold, brilliant, powerful people and your voices will always be heard in this organization. Seize the opportunities ahead of you! Allow yourselves to grow and blossom together. Helenes will encourage you to think of others before yourself, to serve with the purpose of making this community and world a better place, and open you up to both give and receive love. I want to end with a quick quote from one of my favorite authors from Nebraska - Willa Cather wrote “When people ask me if it has been a hard or easy road, I always answer with the same: The end is nothing. The road is all.” The road ahead of you will have its ups and downs, and we may all be headed in different directions, but we are on this journey together. Appreciate the journey, savor the road, and never forget how loved you are along the way.
We are so excited to bring each of you into our family, and we can’t wait until we get to hug you all in person. I know your futures shine as bright as the candles you hold, and I couldn’t be prouder to welcome you to this family. Congratulations Spring 2021!
Helenes love and all mine,