My name is Catalina Guzman, and I am getting ready for my sophomore year at Auburn University! I am from Enterprise, Alabama, which is not too far from Auburn, and I am a biomedical
science major! My older sister, who is 18 years older than me, attended Auburn. My family doesn’t have many traditions related to school because we have lived all over the world, but I felt like Auburn was the place I belonged. Auburn gave my family a sense of an alma mater tradition, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
Since most of the girls I grew up with decided to attend Auburn, I knew that I would have to stay true to myself during recruitment. Most girls would say that they were looking for a genuine sisterhood, which was my goal throughout the recruitment process. I am an outgoing girl who could literally have a conversation with a wall, so recruitment was very exciting to me. I met so many amazing girls that week, but Pi Beta Phi was where I truly belonged. The whole week is exhausting, but every time I went to Pi Phi, it was as if I was taking a break. I did not have to remind myself to “sparkle” or try to appeal to the girls because it was so genuine. I would enter each party waving to all the girls that I felt like were cheering me on, and I would leave each party dancing with my host and the girls in line. I remember the summer before recruitment that I saw Cara Benak, an older Pi Phi, at a car dealership. I knew who she was because her hometown was right next to mine. I was wearing a huge t-shirt that swallowed me and had my hair thrown into a bun, and she just looked like an absolute angel (no pun intended). I remember freaking out saying, “OMG! She’s a Pi Phi! She can’t see me like this!” Fast-forward to recruitment, and she was my host on Ice-Water Teas. I told her the story, and she just busted out laughing. I would see her every day for the rest of the week, and I ran home to her on bid day. When I look back at seeing her at the dealership, I say to myself, “I could have just introduced myself to her!” It did not matter what I looked like, or what I wore, because who I was as a person is what truly mattered to Pi Phi.
I was the only girl from my hometown that was in my Pi Phi pledge class. At first, it was nerve-wracking, but I knew that these girls would eventually become my best friends. Trust me, it is scary being thrown into a group of girls that you don’t know who are also your sisters, but you are all there for a reason. I am from a small town in Southeast Alabama, and I was meeting girls from New York, California, and even the Bahamas! We were all unique, but we all just clicked because of how open-minded we were. I knew that this was the place for me, but I had an emotional weight on my shoulders that came from home.
My mom, who was my best friend, died right before I turned 16 from colon cancer. I never got to truly grieve until I lived on my own in college. This made my freshman year very hard and tiring for me. It was difficult having to make new friends with baggage from the past, especially when they did not know the situation, and I didn’t want to open up about it for the longest time because I didn’t want to scare the girls away. This made it difficult for me to create the true bonds with my sisters that I had the potential to build. I joined Greek Sing, and we practiced for six hours per week, which made us very close. I especially got close with Marley McAlister, a girl in my pledge class. We would carpool to practices, and our conversations in the car went from superficial to very personal. I also became very close to my big, Maggie Whitson. She became my best friend, and I always looked to her for guidance. I eventually spilled my heart open to them about my mom, and I received nothing but love and support from both of them. This motivated me to open up to the rest of my sisters, and again, I received nothing but love and support. This showed me that even though I didn’t know ANY of these girls for more than ten months, they were going to support me just like anybody who knew me my whole life. This was when I discovered the true meaning of sisterhood. I wouldn’t trade any of this for the world.
My biggest piece of advice to any girl going through recruitment would be to follow your heart. If you follow your heart, then you will run to your perfect home on bid day. Being in a sorority will be one of the best decisions you have ever made in your life, just like following my arrow to Pi Beta Phi was.