Shirin Beroukhim, a communication studies junior, was appointed to the position of Panhellenic president at the end of Fall 2016. She will serve this position for the 2017 calendar year.
Her plans include increasing members’ knowledge of the Panhellenic council as a resource and creating stronger bonds across all Panhellenic chapters.
Mustang News sat down with Beroukhim and asked her a few questions about herself and her plans for Panhellenic:
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Orange County, California; Irvine specifically. After I graduated from high school, my family moved to Los Angeles. It wasn’t a difficult transition; when I go home, I go to L.A. Home is where the heart is; my family is there. It’s only an hour north of Irvine, so it wasn’t a hard transition.
Q: Why did you pick Cal Poly?
A: I visited Cal Poly my senior year in high school. It was in May, and the hills were all green and I went to the Farmers’ Market on Thursday night and fell in love with the community and met a lot of cool people.
Q: You’re also a Poly Rep; did one [Poly Rep] have a particular impact on you?
A: Molly Fraiser gave me my first tour of Cal Poly. She really took the time to talk to me about the opportunities I would have at Cal Poly, both academically and socially. After that day, I could really see myself here.
Q: What have you taken away from your experience as a Poly Rep?
A: I’ve seen how much the university has strived to help their students and how much students can benefit from the Learn by Doing process. There’s various organizations that can make a Cal Poly student feel at home. As a Poly Rep, I’ve noticed there’s something here for everyone. It’s an eye-opener. There’s 20,000 students here and every one of them can have something to call their home.
Q: In addition to Poly Reps, you’re also now the new 2017 Panhellenic President and a sister of Alpha Chi Omega. Are you also involved in other organizations on campus?
A: I’m actually Jewish, so [my] first day coming to campus, I got myself involved in Hillel and Chabat. That’s given me a home on campus. I found other students who value that religious aspect. I have this community as well, other than Poly Reps and my Alpha Chi Omega sisters.
Q: What will you be doing in your role as the Panhellenic president?
A: I run the Panhellenic meetings every Tuesday with representatives from each of the ten sororities. I make sure that the goals and messages relayed through Panhellenic go to each chapter. In my role, right now they’re doing Greek Week applications. And I’m here to say, “I’m here if you need me.” There are other people on my board giving tasks and those things are run through me. I make sure those things align with Panhellenic values.
Q: What are some of those Panhellenic values?
A: I think three values would be: respect, honor and sisterhood.
Respect: We are a board of 10, mostly from different sororities. It’s important to know that we all come from different sisterhoods, but respect is something that applies to all of us and just making sure we hear each other out beyond this competitive environment. It’s nothing I’ve ever had to tell the board, but it’s always there and it’s a special thing to have.
Honor: We are also representing the Panhellenic community that almost every university has. I am honestly so humbled to have this position, knowing that there’s about 2,200 sorority women at Cal Poly, and that’s almost 20 percent of our campus. And knowing that, I’m honored to have this position and to represent my personal values but also represent how large Panhellenic is across the nation. There’s an honor in what I do and there are people that I don’t want to let down. I’m meeting with Kathleen Enz Finken, the dean of students, and I will make sure the goals of greek life are equal to those of the administration. So there’s an honor in not letting them down.
Sisterhood: It’s something pretty much across everyone in a sorority. It’s the “I’ll do anything for you” aspect. You need to say, “I am here for you regardless of which sorority you’re in.” It pushes the boundaries of just your chapter. It’s “I’m here for you as a sorority woman.”
Q: What’s a goal you set for this year?
A: One of my goals especially is just making sure that if Panhellenic is on a certain page, that all the chapters are also on the same page. In the past, people haven’t really known what Panhellenic is. My goal is to stress that we’re not just the people who find you for recruitment. We’re here for you. We want to be your resource, so just being that face for Panhellenic and the sororities.
Q: Have you held previous leadership positions?
A: My freshman year, I was president of Junior Panhellenic board. In that position, I shadowed Kristen Henry, the Panhellenic president [at the time]. I went with her to meetings, I took minutes, made sure she was where she needed to be and learned what it’s like to draft something like the status plan. She was definitely working at a difficult time — we had just been on social probation in winter quarter. Much of the SLO community wanted to see change. The St. Fratty’s day incident happened and we wanted to relay to the community that it wasn’t a greek event. I saw the great aspects of Panhellenic; bonding with the board and seeing unity. During that time, greeks came together. It was such an awesome thing to see.
After that, I ran for assistant Panhellenic delegate on Alpha Chi Omega’s junior executive board. So this is my first year in a leadership position since then.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in greek life this year?
A: I’m most excited for Greek Week in spring and Values Week that bring us together with IFC [Interfraternity Council] and USFC [United Sorority & Fraternity Council]. I’m excited for [the] dance marathon and ideas that my board comes together with. One of our biggest strengths as a board is relationship-building, so building relationships between the PHA [Panhellenic Association] council and moving that forward as a bigger idea within the sororities. That’s one thing Panhellenic is stressing, is let’s see more bonding not just in one house, but across all the houses. That can happen as recruitment comes around and when Values Week comes around. We are sorority women, we are not just one chapter. And that’s something I’m excited to voice.
Q: If you or your friends were to describe yourself, what are three qualities they would say you have?
A: I think the first is passionate. I think I don’t put my foot into things I don’t love. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it — same with Poly Reps, same with the Jewish community. These are things I take seriously and that I am passionate about. I hope they’d say I am hardworking. If I am passionate about something, I put my all into it. It’s not just a foot. It’s really everything that I am. If I am dedicating myself to something, I am trying to do that to the very best I can. The last is confident. This position can be hard, and being a communications studies major, I just kind of have to own my words and be confident.
A previous version of this article misstated the abbreviation of USFC. It has been corrected to read “United Sorority and Fraternity Council.”