Since joining the USF Panhellenic Association (PHA) community in fall 2020, Panhellenic President Nicole Tutak has seen herself grow as a person, a professional, a leader and a peer.
“Being a part of the Panhellenic community has shaped me into the person I am today and the things that I’ve accomplished in my life I never thought I’d be able to do,” Tutak said.
The PHA encompasses a varying number of sororities at different college campuses. Each sorority alongside Panhellenic looks to promote leadership, sisterhood and community service within its members. Panhellenic also focuses on female empowerment, fostering connections and establishing professional skills, according to the Panhellenic Association at USF website.
Starting her experience with a non-traditional fall 2020 virtual recruitment in the midst of the pandemic, Tutak eventually went through officer positions within her own chapter and is now set to become the PHA president. Through this, she said she has seen herself undergo extensive growth – both personally and professionally – from her time as a PHA member.
“My experience within USF Panhellenic has been everything that I really hoped it would be and more,” Tutak said.
Being a part of the PHA community has enriched Tutak’s skill level in many ways, such as helping her come out of her comfort zone.
“Joining the Panhellenic community has taught me to push myself… before I joined Panhellenic I couldn’t really talk to people, then being in my chapter, meeting other people, especially recruitment, it helps you so much with interviews, talking to others, being able to hold conversations,” she said.
Tutak said she hopes to bring all she’s learned from the PHA community to this new chapter of her personal panhellenic journey.
From obtaining the role of PHA president, as well as previous time spent serving as Panhellenic Relations Specialist and vice president within her sorority, Tutak said she’s learned many key professional skills. This includes learning how to improve her organizational skills, communication skills and her time management skills, as she undertook balancing her leadership responsibilities among her personal life and her role as a student.
As the opportunity to participate in the PHA executive board arose, Tutak recognized her desire to be involved, and the confidence the community gave her to do so.
“I thought to myself, ‘How will I know I’ve grown as an individual if I don’t step outside of my comfort zone?’ Joining the Panhellenic community has taught me to push myself,” Tutak said.
Now, as the fall semester nears, Tutak said she is excited to bring to life the goals she has for the PHA community, including building relationships between different chapters.
“One of the main goals I have as [Panhellenic] President is to continue to strengthen and keep growing the relations between all chapters and for members to know and have access to the Panhellenic Executive Board for absolutely anything,” Tutak said.
“I hope to make a difference and leave an impact by knowing that I’ve allowed members to express their opinions and have a voice within USF Panhellenic.”
Trishna Patel, 2023-24 PHA vice president of recruitment, said she views Tutak as a motivating leader.
“If there’s one word I could use to describe Nicole as a leader, it would definitely be selfless. She always takes others’ thoughts and opinions into account, and constantly makes sure that anyone and everyone can come to her as a resource,” Patel said.
Tutak said she looks to be an open and honest president by promoting collaboration between people and leaving a lesson of the importance of working together after she leaves her position.
Patel said Tutak’s leadership is key in helping her handle her own executive position.
“Looking at positive changes Nicole has made has motivated me in my position to be better everyday. I see her constantly pushing herself to be her best, and that makes me want to do the same,” Patel said.
Tutak said she values the chance her PHA presidency gives her to work with others who may be a little different from her or who may not agree with her, knowing it is preparation for doing so professionally.
Patel said it has been clear Tutak intends to make every day of her PHA Presidency influential.
“The moment she [Tutak] stepped into her position, Nicole met with USF President Rhea Law to discuss improvements we could make to the Panhellenic Association,” she said.
In her position as PHA president, Tutak will oversee the university’s sorority community fall recruitment where hundreds of women will look to join the PHA community. She will also manage the 10-chapter sorority community, the Panhellenic’s “Circle of Sisterhood” philanthropy and the rest of the 2023-2024 executive board.
Looking to the fall semester, Tutak said she believes the strong post-pandemic return of PHA Philanthropy’s “Circle of Sisterhood” events will encourage and help the PHA community to come together.
“Circle of Sisterhood” is the Panhellenic Association’s philanthropy that aims to remove educational barriers and poverty for women as found on the Circle of Sisterhood website.
Tutak said she also intends to make her own impacts to the PHA community by encouraging sorority members’ participation and involvement with other chapter’s philanthropic events.
Each sorority has a different organization they fundraise for – such as Saint Jude Children’s Hospital, Make A Wish, Breast Cancer Awareness and Ronald McDonald House – with a week in each semester designated to detailed weeklong events promoting camaraderie, fundraising and philanthropy in the Panhellenic community.
“You grow as an individual and develop new skills that will benefit you and help you throughout your future endeavors. Never be afraid to ask questions and to always believe in yourself,” Tutak said.
Tutak said she believes having a collegiate leadership role helps one to “grow and mature as an individual.” She said working with other people’s opinions assists an individual to grow and learn from their mistakes and that holding a leadership role in college leads to real life preparation.
“I truly believe in the real world and in the future, [having a college leadership role] will help you so much and make life easier,” she said. “The community [Panhellenic] as a whole… has impacted me in the best way possible.”
From the many collegiate leadership roles she’s had and the skills she’s gained, Tutak holds her appreciation firsthand and encourages all college students to pursue the opportunity of being entrusted with a leadership role in college.
“The advice I would give to absolutely anyone is to not be scared to get out of your comfort zone and that everything happens for a reason, and, I cannot stress this enough, stepping out of your comfort zone helps you learn so many things about yourself that you didn’t know before,” Tutak said.