March Regional Feature: South Region

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Every month, the OCF social media platforms will be featuring one of the nine regions of chapters. March is the month for my birthday the South Region, which includes the great states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Yee-haw!

On the blog, I’ll be asking the Regional Student Leader–for South, the striking Kathrine Sackllah–for a few names of people in their region who are absolutely rockin’ it. It’s an opportunity for every region to showcase and share that which makes them unique and awesome, and hopefully all the regions can learn from and grow with each other.

So, without further ado, your South All-Stars!

Anna Sobchak, Chapter President, SMU

Hi! My name is Anna Sobchak, a junior at Southern Methodist University (SMU), majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Math and currently chapter president.

How did you get involved in OCF?

Haha. It’s not a very exciting story, I’m afraid. I always knew SMU had a chapter at OCF; it was something I made sure of at all the schools I applied to. I had a friend who got me in contact with the coordinator and just went to the first meeting.

What are some of your greatest memories/experiences from OCF?

Growing up in Houston, I love every time we have a regional retreat and I get to see all the friends I grew up with. However, I would have to say my greatest experience so far was when I went to Jerusalem last spring for Real Break. It was beautiful and exciting and…honestly, I don’t even know how to describe it. Seeing all of the holy sites and just walking around the Sea of Galilee or through the Old City…it made the biblical stories seem so much more real and relatable. 10/10 would recommend.

Any advice you could give to someone else in your position?

Somehow I ended up as chapter president, but whether you just go to weekly meetings or are involved in the national level, my advice is to make sure you get involved. Different chapters do different things, but at the end of the day, it’s comforting to know that while you are at college in a new city, maybe even a new country, you have at least one brother or sister in Christ there with you. And the more you get involved, the more you’ll find out just how interconnected the Orthodox communities are all across the US.

Valerie Hanna, Central Texas District Student Leader, Texas A&M

Valerie Hanna is from Houston, Texas and a junior at Texas A&M University (Whoop!), studying Telecomm. Media Studies with a minor in Art. She is secretary of her OCF chapter and District Student Leader of Central Texas. She loves teaching Sunday School at St. Silouan Antiochian Orthodox Church, reading books instead of studying (uh-oh), practically living at her local coffee shop, sketching Disney characters, being at camp, and attending concerts.

And how did you get involved in OCF?

I knew I wanted to be in OCF before my freshman year even began. Having grown up involved in Teen SOYO, getting involved in OCF just felt like the natural “next step” in my church involvement when I left home. When applying to schools, I made sure there was a church with an OCF chapter in the general area because I knew I was going to need them. Fast forward three years, and I am both an officer in my chapter as well as District Student Leader for Central Texas and it’s been pretty great.

What are some of your greatest memories/experiences from OCF?

Last year we had a meeting right after the last Pre-Sanctified Liturgy during Lent where we got together and had some of the students teach others how to make crosses out of palms for Palm Sunday which led to us staying at the church for quite a while consisting of so much singing and so much fun. 10/10 would recommend as a fun & stress-free meeting before Holy Week! Despite the social events we have had in the past, this one felt like a really strong bonding experience for our entire group.

Any advice you could give to someone else in your position (Chapter Pres., District Leader, etc…) across the nation?

Embrace it and let it teach you things you didn’t even know you needed to learn. This goes beyond being a leadership position. You’re going to learn things that are beyond yourself. God works in each of us very differently, I feel this goes without saying, but you will be surprised as to how He is going to work through you. The feeling of being able to help nourish other OCF chapters beyond your own is incredible. I’ve put together events and done things I never in a thousand years pictured myself doing before this school year started. OCF isn’t just a temporary thing throughout my four years of college. OCF has given me my best friends, strengthened my relationships with others, and been the backbone of my entire college experience. It is what has helped keep me sane in the moments I felt so overwhelmed all I wanted to do was cry. OCF has been one of the constant reminders of the love that God has for me, for all of us. Being a leader in an organization He has allowed us to establish as a stepping stone in our journey toward salvation is more than I have ever been worthy of, but something to be so incredibly thankful for.

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