Sigma Lambda Gamma

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Sigma Lambda Gamma
Founded April 9, 1990; 28 years ago (1990-04-09)
University of Iowa
Type Social
Scope National
Motto Culture is Pride, Pride is Success (Cultura es Orgullo, Orgullo es Exito)
Colors Shocking Pink and Majestic Purple
Symbol Purple Panther
Flower Pink Rose
Chapters 135 undergrad, 14 colonies, 25 alumnae associations
Nickname SLG, Gammas
Headquarters 125 E. Zeller Street Suites D & E
North Liberty, Iowa, USA
Homepage Sigma Lambda Gamma Website

Sigma Lambda Gamma (ΣΛΓ) (also known as Gammas or SLG) is a historically Latina-based national sorority with multicultural membership founded on April 9, 1990, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa by five collegiate women who wanted an organization to empower all women. The sorority focuses on five principles - academics, community service, cultural awareness, social interaction, and morals and ethics - to unite their members as "hermanas por vida" (sisters for life).

Since its beginnings, Sigma Lambda Gamma has created national programmings to empower their members and women of the community, such as the Young Women’s Leadership Program and Emotional Intelligence. They have also partnered up with other organizations to improve political, educational, and social conditions in the United States. A sisterhood of over 8,000 members, the sorority believes that Culture is Pride, Pride is Success and explores the richness in the traditions of Latina culture. This encompasses the cultural heritages of Native Americans (North, Central and South), Europeans, Africans, Asians and their multiple and interesting mixtures. They celebrate the diversity of the backgrounds of all the members of the sorority,[1] representing over 110 nationalities.[2]

Today, Sigma Lambda Gamma is the largest, historically Latina-based multicultural national sorority, and one of the fastest growing fraternal organizations in chapters and alumnae associations throughout the United States, having expanded to more than 100 universities in less than 20 years. Membership in Sigma Lambda Gamma is open to any woman who meets the membership requirements, regardless of religion, race, or nationality. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or after acquiring a college degree through an alumnae association. The current executive director is Vanessa Jimenez.[3]


Creation of Sigma Lambda Gamma and beginnings: 1989–2000

Sigma Lambda Gamma strives to be the premier organization committed to providing a mechanism of empowerment to all women. Through a network of close to 8,000 members from collegiate chapters and alumnae associations located across the United States, it promotes academic excellence and higher education through the sorority's principles: academics, community service, cultural awareness, morals and ethics, social interaction-in our daily lives. — Mission Statement[4]

In fall of 1989, a group of women met to form an organization that would provide empowerment to Latina women. With its beginnings at the University of Iowa, the vision was to create a network of academic and social support. Although the first meeting had 19 women, membership fluctuated during the planning process.[5] Under the guidance of Esther Materon Arum and Mary Peterson, the members continued to draft a sorority that would be inclusive and empowering to women. A retreat was held to establish the constitution and the purpose of the organization. They also participated in volunteer projects such as the National Association of Chicano Studies (NACS), as well as on-campus programs such as the Leadership Conference.

Eventually, only five women remained. These women are Gloria Cuevas, Julieta Maria Miller, Maria Ester Pineda, Danell Marie Riojas, and Guadalupe Temiquel. Despite the decrease in number, the five women continued to polish up the constitution and structure for their sorority as well as keeping with their commitment to the community. On April 9, 1990, the University of Iowa Panhellenic Council officially recognized the organization as a sorority. Sigma Lambda Gamma celebrates this as their founding date. The five women became known as the Five Founding Mothers and would continue to actively establish Sigma Lambda Gamma as the sorority it is today by demonstrating a commitment to being Hermanas Por Vida (Sisters For Life).[5] The first inductees to the sorority in the spring 1991 term played a vital role in promoting the ideals of the organization on the University of Iowa campus, and helped with the first wave of expansion to the University of Michigan,[6] Iowa State University[7] and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.[8] They expanded outside of the Midwest with the chartering of chapters at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida;[9] California State University-Dominguez Hills in Carson, California; and the University of Texas at Austin at Austin, Texas.[10] With time, it eventually expanded to other campuses, becoming one of the fastest growing fraternal organization in the United States.

In keeping up with the expansion and to create more unity among chapters, a national headquarter was established at 900 West Penn Street, North Liberty, Iowa. They later move to their current address at 125 E. Zeller Street Suites D & E, North Liberty, Iowa. Along with housing national records and staff, it is also home to the sorority's national quarterly publication, La Mensajera.[11] The Omega Chapter was later established to recognize and pay respect to deceased sisters.[12]

Development of national programming and "Drive to 25": 2000–present

As the sorority grew, Sigma Lambda Gamma's membership became more multicultural. In acknowledging this, the organization, which was a part of the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations from January 2001 to May 2010, left due to a desire for autonomy and due to their increasing multicultural membership.[13] The sorority celebrated their 100th and 101st chapter simultaneously with the addition of the Theta Delta chapter at Columbia University and the Iota Delta chapter at Millikin University in 2010, having expanding to more than 100 chapters in 20 years.[14]

Recognizing its responsibility to the progression of a positive global community, the sorority stresses the importance of morals, ethics, and education in the daily lives of its members, so that they serve the needs of their neighbors through a mutual respect and understanding of their various cultures. — Vision Statement[4]

While chapters have always organized local programmings on their respective campuses,[15] Sigma Lambda Gamma began to create national programmings to foster more unity. With a strong belief in giving back to the community, they created their Education Foundation, where several programs were created under. In striving to empower all women, as stated in their mission, they established The Young Women’s Leadership program, designed to promote confidence and leadership skills for middle-school aged girls.[16][17] Additionally, in encouraging their members to grow and assess themselves, they started the Emotional Intelligence education program.[16] A scholarship program was also added to support their members in higher education.[18]

In 2012, the Panther Dash For Education was created to generate funds that will support scholastic achievement, leadership training, and continue the commitment to lifelong learning and service to the global community for sisters.[16][19] A virtual race, sisters are encourage to participate in any run/walk event of their choice and then later upload it to media sites. The sorority has been active in bringing about social changes in the community as well. In hopes of encouraging their members and youth of color to promote positive change, they began a partnership with VotoLatino in 2012, a nonpartisan organization that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community by voting and learning how to make a difference.[20] In the 2014 VotoLatino's RepUrLetters Challenge, in which historically Latino Greek-lettered organizations competed to register voters on their campuses and in their communities, Sigma Lambda Gamma's voter registration efforts accounted for 36% of the total number of voters registered, with the highest number of voters registered.[21][22]

For their 2013 National Sisterhood Retreat, Sigma Lambda Gamma was honored by the Diosa Nail & Polish company with their colors to commemorate the Educate. Engage. Empower. theme. Sisters suggested names and voted on it. The two colors are: “Women of Dis-PINK-tion” to reflect their color shocking pink and “On the Prowl” to reflect their color majestic purple as well as their stone, amethyst. It was made available exclusively to sisters only and has since been sold out.[23] To commemorate their 25th anniversary, the sorority launched their philanthropic campaign, “Drive to 25,” to continue empowering women and spreading cultural awareness. Sisters across the nation took part in hosting and participating in community-based events to give back to the community, whether it is coordinating a book drive or volunteering in local women's shelter.[24][25]

Gamma Founders

File:Sigma Lambda Gamma Founding Mothers.jpg
A snapshot of the five Founding Mothers of the sorority

The five Founding Mothers of Sigma Lambda Gamma are:

  • Gloria Cuevas
  • Julieta Maria Miller
  • Maria Ester Pineda
  • Danell Marie Riojas
  • Guadalupe Temiquel


Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. supports a variety of charitable organizations as a part of their community service commitment. As a national organization, their main philanthropies are Breast Cancer Awareness and the TRIO programs. Sorority entities conduct and participate in programming events that are designed to raise awareness and educate the public on these topics. Additionally, chapters also organize local philanthropic projects, such as the raising funds for the 2013 Oklahoma tornado disaster,[26][27] adopting a highway,[28] and animal shelters.[29] In 2014, they launched their "Gammas Go Red" campaign on social media sites in an effort to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women.[30]

Breast Cancer Awareness

Sigma Lambda Gamma actively support the important societal issue of Breast Cancer Awareness. Their support comes in various avenues: from fundraising campaigns; educational workshops to create awareness; active participation in run/walk events; volunteer participation with organizations; or a combination of these forms. The two primary programs the organization supports in respects to breast cancer awareness include, but are not limited to: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.[31] One member shaved her head to raise money for cancer research, eventually topping $2650,[32] while another chapter organized a fashion show.[33] In conjunction with the men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, one chapter organized a ball to raise funds for breast cancer and the March of Dime.[34] In 2014, the sorority raised over $14,000 to donate to 20 different breast cancer research organizations.[35]

TRIO Programs

Sigma Lambda Gamma supports the TRIO programs for its innovative and proactive stance on the continual education of individuals who otherwise would not have been afforded the education or financial assistance to further their education and livelihood. These programs have become stepping stones for many students within the organization and other affiliates who have benefited to identify and continue secondary education.[31] Chapters have organized local fundraisers to donate to TRIO programs.[36]

National programs

To foster more unity, Sigma Lambda Gamma created the Sigma Lambda Gamma Education Foundation, an umbrella philanthropic entity for their national programs.

Young Women’s Leadership Program

An eight-week program, the Young Women's Leadership Program introduces young girls to the principles embodied by Sigma Lambda Gamma. Through series of exercises and activities designed to help them learn about themselves and each other along the way, the program is facilitated by members of local Sigma Lambda Gamma Alumnae Associations who serve as mentors and role models for the participants throughout the program and beyond. The goal of the program is to get a head start with young girls to provide them the self-awareness and self-esteem to help them finish their high school education and consider pursuing a college degree upon graduation. As this program is a volunteer effort that takes place outside of the regular school day, the Sigma Lambda Gamma Education Foundation assist programs across the country to provide materials, transportation, food and other program costs for facilitators and participants.[16]

Panther Dash for Education

To encourage sisters to mobilize their body as well as give back to the community, Sigma Lambda Gamma created the Panther Dash for Education in 2012. As with all Sigma Lambda Gamma initiatives, the Panther Dash for Education supports the empowerment of women by providing Gammas, friends, and family the opportunity to walk, jog, or run any 5k race of their choice while raising funds to support the SLGEF's Mission and Vision. Sisters are encouraged to upload pictures onto social media websites. To raise funds, sisters can buy packages for the race. Items can include a bib, T-shirt, or water bottle with the sorority's letters and logo.[16][19]

Emotional Intelligence

In Sigma Lambda Gamma’s continuing effort to become the premier women’s organization, the organization launched an educational program for their members based on emotional intelligence, committed to enhancing their members' personal and social competencies. The program encourages members to develop specific skills of emotional intelligence for personal and leadership development.

This program is focused on members addressing the needs of the sisterhood in the most timely and effective way. All members complete the EI Profile: An Emotional Intelligence Self-Assessment. Based on the results of this self-assessment, members will have the chance during the academic year to learn more about the nineteen different skills of emotional intelligence.[16]


The organization supports their members in higher education by offering annual scholarships. It is only opened to members who have been initiated into the organization and are in good-standing, as defined by Sigma Lambda Gamma policy, who are enrolled as degree-seeking student during the academic year. Sisters who are studying abroad are not eligible. The two offered are the Mary L. Peterson Scholarship and the Esther Materon-Arum Scholarship, named after the two women who helped the Founding Mothers in creating the sorority.[18]


A criterion for membership into Sigma Lambda Gamma is that a woman must have exceptional morals and ethics with a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence, and is pursuing or has completed courses leading to a degree in an accredited college or university.[1] Memberships are categorized as undergrad or alumnae. According to Sigma Lambda Gamma's national constitution, they believe that a multicultural experience during the college years enhances each member’s ability to function in a pluralistic society. They do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, national origin, religious preference, sexual orientation or disability. As a result, Sigma Lambda Gamma has a diverse membership that encompasses not only the Latino culture but also the cultural heritages of Native Americans (North, Central and South), Europeans, Africans, Asians and their multiple and interesting mixtures. They encourage their members to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of all the members of the sorority,[1] and currently boasts over 110 nationalities.[2]

Stance on hazing

Sigma Lambda Gamma does not condone hazing, and defines it as “any act or tradition that endangers the physical, mental or emotional well-being of an associate and/or initiated member.” Believing that it is their “responsibility to treat all women with the respect and dignity they deserve,” the sorority strive to “maintain a healthy culture that uplifts and supports one another and our community.”[37][38]

Despite this, several chapters have been shut down for breaching Sigma Lambda Gamma’s anti-hazing policy. The University of Florida chapter, Rho Alpha, was suspended in 2009 after it was found out that they required their members to run and do push-ups, and they also had rules and restrictions regarding eating, make-up, and how to get to classes.[39][40] The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma, Nu Beta, was placed under one academic year suspension in 2012 for violating the national chapter's "human dignity policy" and "national hazing policy.”[41]

Notable members

See also


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External links