Non-traditional student Tiffany Eckert joins sorority

Picture of Tiffany Eckert holding the flag of her sorority, Sigma Kappa.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Eckert

Picture of Tiffany Eckert holding the flag of her sorority, Sigma Kappa.

Emma Carver, Reporter

Tiffany Eckert, 41, is a student at Bowling Green State University and unconventionally is a member of Greek Life as of the 2022 fall semester.
The mother of three is taking a non-traditional route of higher education and has joined Sigma Kappa, a sorority on BGSU’s campus. Despite some criticism from people on social media, Eckert said she is proud of herself for taking a chance and being successful as a student in this chapter of her life.

Q: Why did you decide to enroll as a student at BGSU at this stage of your life?

A: This is my second year at BGSU, and I will be receiving my degree in human development and family studies. My oldest daughter is a freshman on campus, and my son will be attending BGSU next fall. I was married young, and by the time I was 23, I was a widow with two kids. In 2005, my husband was killed in Iraq when I was 23 and he was 24. Obviously, I did not have a traditional track in life. I didn’t have much support in school when I was young, and I had consented to the fact that I would never explore higher education because I wasn’t good enough. In my last conversation with my husband, he told me that I was the smartest person he ever knew, and made me promise him that I would go to college. Here I am now, almost 18 years later, and I am fulfilling the last promise I ever made to him, and it is very special to me for many reasons. One day I just had this moment where I was like, I can do this. I never thought that I had what it took, or that I was good enough to go to college. For the first time ever, I am proud of myself.

Q: Why did you decide to join a sorority on campus?

A: Just like I never thought I would get a college degree, I had always wanted to be in a sorority, but I thought that it was too late. One day I was in my parenting class, and a couple of girls were asking me if my daughter was going through fall recruitment because they know she goes to BGSU. They asked if I was going to as well and I couldn’t find any age restrictions for sororities on campus. Some people think that I may be having a midlife crisis, but I’m not. I won’t party, I won’t go to the same social events that my sisters go to such as date parties. That is not why I joined. One of my biggest hurdles in life was thinking I wasn’t smart enough or good enough, and once I got over that, I realized there is nothing I won’t try. I thought, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You have to take a chance and put yourself out there. Life is full of failure. It’s better to put yourself out there and actually fail than to sit at home and never try.

Q: Why did you choose Sigma Kappa?

A: When I was going through recruitment, I knew instantly that I wanted to be a Sigma Kappa. I was coming in as a 40-year-old mom and non-traditional student, and I felt drawn to the girls. They were very diverse and I could just tell they were inclusive. We have this cool thing that I talk about on my TikTok sometimes, where I am a true part of the sisterhood, and am treated like an equal regardless of my age, but then, I get to be a mom figure and mentor too. It’s a very beautiful, special thing. I think that Sigma Kappa truly aligns with the original mission of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL). It has been a great experience for me.

Q: What impact has being a part of Sigma Kappa had on you so far?

A: I think my sisters and I are constantly learning from each other. With my life experience, their perspective, and things I’m learning about human development through my degree, it’s a perfect storm. I think that because people on campus know who I am, through my TikTok and me going to FSL, I have helped Sigma Kappa in a way. We are a smaller chapter, and a lot of times, people don’t normally engage with my sisters. My sisters are finally being seen for who they are and how amazing they are, and I’m really thankful that I have the opportunity to be a part of that.

Q: The National Panhellenic Conference and FSL puts a focus on diversity and inclusion. Do you feel that you have been welcomed and accepted within BGSU’s Greek Community?

A: Yes, I do. Some people might have an issue, but I haven’t really heard much. I haven’t felt unwelcomed at all in my experience as a non-traditional student in general. That’s just the culture here at BGSU.

Q: What message do you hope to deliver to others?

A: It’s never too late to do what you want to do, there is nothing in life that should ever hold you back. Looking at my story, there is nothing you can’t work through, as long as you don’t give up. You just don’t quit. As a person who has made it over so many different mountains, my main takeaway is to not let age hold you back. There are people living really hard lives, and when you’re stuck in a rut in your life, you can’t see that brighter side. I want people to know that there is one. I’ve been through a lot, and I still love life. I love myself, and for the first time ever, I can say that I am proud of myself. I hope you see the light, because it’s waiting there. You need to pull yourself up, as long as you’re good to people along the way, and know that not every day is gonna be perfect, you will be fine.