Although it was 22 years ago, I still remember where I was when I received word that I had been awarded the Alice Allen Brant Founders Memorial Scholarship. I was in a dorm room at the University of Hartford where I was staying for a summer internship. My mom called me from home in Omaha, Nebraska, to say that I had received a letter from Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation. The news took a weight off my shoulders as it was such a huge financial help for my senior year of college. I did not realize the honor of the award until a couple of weeks later when I was at a leadership conference that was being held for Theta’s college chapter presidents.
One of the greatest gifts my Theta experience has given me is the ability to recognize each woman for her unique strengths, to not be intimidated by strong women, and to realize the real potential when many people come together with their own unique skill sets to accomplish a greater goal. It is not about the individual, it is about the group.
I saw that often within Rho Chapter as a student, but that summer at the leadership conference, I was so inspired by all of the other Thetas from around the country. I was really honored that the scholarship committee saw something in me—why did they choose me? I knew that I would probably never know why, but then and there, I realized the honor and gratitude I had for Theta Foundation and vowed to do whatever I could to give back and make sure to pay it forward.
Fast forward some 20 years, I am still trying to make sure I am giving back enough! Post-graduation, I relocated to Connecticut to take a job with that company I was interning with and have been working there ever since. I reached out early to the local alumnae chapter and did so again when my husband’s job relocated us to Philadelphia. Over those 20 years, I have had the opportunity to serve in different alumnae chapter leadership roles and had the honor of starting a Theta Foundation scholarship reading and scoring committee (now called scholarship application review committees) in Philadelphia. That opportunity was especially gratifying for me, as I felt like I was giving back more than just monetarily to the cause that had made such an impact on me so many years ago. I was helping fuel that process that I benefited greatly from in 1995. I have since moved back to Connecticut and have been honored to keep being considered for different opportunities to support Theta Foundation, most recently participating in the chapter and individual grants committee.
I will be heading back to Lincoln in the fall for an informal 25th reunion with my pledge class. As I was booking the trip, it dawned on me that I have been a Theta for more years of my life than I haven’t been. Theta has shaped me as a Leading Woman; I am who I am today because of Theta, and for that, I am forever grateful to those four young women who showed so much courage almost 150 years ago.
Jennifer Dolphin Rottkamp, Rho/Nebraska, lives in Canton, Connecticut, with her husband, John, and two boys, JR and Tyler. She works at Cigna, and recently moved into a role as the Chief Operating Officer for a group of markets within the US business. In her free time, Jennifer enjoy running and watching whatever sport her children happen to be playing! Recently, Jennifer served on the Foundation Chapter & Individual Grants Committee.
Theta Foundation’s first Founders Memorial Scholarships were awarded to four outstanding undergraduate Thetas at the Centennial Grand Convention in 1970. Our flagship scholarship program has grown significantly since then, and the Founders Memorial Scholarships serve as the centerpiece of this program. Through much-needed and well-deserved support, the Founders Memorial Scholarships have provided 192 women with the opportunity to focus on the academic pursuits that will prepare them for a lifetime of positive impact in the world.