The National Swan Award is given to an undergraduate sister who has encompassed all four goals into her daily life – Academic Excellence, Community Service, Cultural Awareness and Sisterhood. The National Swan promotes each goal across all boundaries and communities, as well as being a leader within and outside of the sorority.
This year, Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc. proudly recognizes Sigma Chapter sister Rebecca “OrIana” Schwartz as our National Swan. We asked her a few questions; get to know our National Swan!
When is your crossing date?
December 1, 2014
What is your degree in and when did you graduate?
Elementary Education with middle level endorsements in music, language arts, general science, and social science. Graduated May 2016
Where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?
I grew up in St. Charles IL and I have 2 younger sisters. Andrea will be a senior and Northern Illinois University in the fall and Nicole will be a freshmen at Eastern Illinois University.
Where do you currently work or what is your ideal profession?
I finished up my student teaching experience at one of the elementary schools in our St. Charles School District. I was offered and accepted a job as a summer school science teacher where I taught 2 sessions of science camp for students that will be entering 1st grade in the fall all the way up to students entering 6th grade. After a lot of hard work and patience, I have landed my dream job – I accepted a first grade teaching position at one of the elementary schools in St. Charles!
What positions did you serve on at Sigma Chapter?
While at Sigma Chapter I served as the Community Service Chair, I also am the proud Shadow of our Gamma Line!
What is your favorite GPhiO memory?
This is a hard one as I’ve had many amazing GPhiO memories. One that stands out would definitely be crossing because I knew that would be the start of something amazing. I will never forget that day because it was so special and I had reached a major goal. Another one of my favorite memories was being awarded National Swan. Since before becoming a member of Gamma Phi Omega I knew that my values and goals aligned with GPhiO. I’ve always tried my best to make a difference in not only my life but in the lives of others. It was so nice to be recognized for my hard work and dedication to the organization. I know how much previous National Swan recipients have inspired me in the past and I can only hope to do the same for my sisters.
What is your favorite GPhiO event?
I love National Conference! I think National Conference is so amazing because just when you think you know everything about the organization, you quickly learn that that’s not the case! I love learning new things about GPhiO, and I love connecting and reconnecting with sisters across various chapters.
Have any hobbies?
I’ve played the viola in orchestras for 13 years, getting invited to play at venues such at Disney World and touring the East Coast including the White House. I also love crafting (but what Swan doesn’t??). I learned to knit as part of my 5th grade curriculum, and have continued doing it ever since! I often donate my knitted items to nursing homes!
What activities/other organizations were you apart of at Illinois State University?
I was a part of the Symphony Orchestra and College Mentors for Kids while at ISU. I also worked several jobs including jobs with ISU housing services as well as teaching Violin and Viola lessons.
What has been your proudest moment in life so far?
My proudest moment was very recent. It was when I graduated from ISU on May 7, 2016 and ending my Spring Semester with a 4.0 GPA. I have worked so hard over the past 4 years to get my GPA back up after having a very rough transition to College. My goal was to increase my semester GPA every single semester, which I not only managed to do but I ended my last semester in College with a 4.0. Graduating college was a big moment for me because I have worked so hard to get there. Through the different struggles I have overcome, graduation wasn’t easy. My family has done so much for me to ensure that I can get the education I need to follow my dreams that I wanted to make them proud. I am the first in my family to graduate from a 4 year institution and I hope that I was able to pave the way for my 2 younger sisters.
Who is your Role Model?
I can’t just pick one role model because both of my parents are so important to me. Both my mom and dad are my role models because of everything they have ever done for me. They have both always put their family first and have given up numerous items and opportunities for their children. They have both always worked; my dad sometimes working 2 jobs in order to make sure my sisters and I had everything we needed and the education that we wanted. My dad has had numerous surgeries over the years but still manages to make sure his family is okay over himself; I believe we will be adding surgery number 14 to the list this summer. I would not be who I am without both of my parents, they have sacrificed so much for me and have done so much for me that I don’t even know how to repay them. I can only hope that one day I can follow in their footsteps and do the same for my family and my future children.
What are some of your favorites? Ex. food, tv show, movie, music, quote/motto you live by
Food: Italian food or tacos! TV Show: I love all the ‘Chicago’ shows; Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med. Also Greys Anatomy! Movie: I don’t have a favorite but I love comedies. Favorite Quote: “To the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students you are a hero”
What was your most memorable moment at ISU?
I’ve had a lot of great moments at ISU, but those memories I would have never had if I hadn’t chosen ISU at the college I wanted to attend. One of my most memorable moments at ISU was the first time I visited the campus before making the decision to attend. The moments I stepped onto the quad and began the tour I knew that ISU was the place for me. I will always remember the sense of home that I felt being there for the first time and how excited I got to attend.
What was your most memorable community service event?
I am very passionate about doing community service, and there is not one community service event that I have done that I have not gotten satisfaction out of helping others and the rewarding feeling that comes with it. Although all of the community service that I do is memorable, I would have to say one that I will always remember happened while I was volunteering at a local homeless shelter. I have built relationships with some of the residents at the shelter and the most rewarding experience is seeing their faces when they find their own place to live and sending them off with some basic supplies they need to get started on their own. Seeing the smile on their face as they walk out the door and say goodbye for the last time is something that I remember forever.
Have you ever traveled outside the country? If so, where and when?
I have never traveled outside the country, however it is my dream to travel to Italy and experience more of my culture.
If you could trade places with anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?
I would trade places with my grandmother because I’ve always admired how strong of a person she is and how outgoing she is. Even today she is still constantly making new friends and is never afraid to make small talk or introduce herself. She is very confident as well as family oriented. I have heard so much about the rest of her family such as her parents and I wish I had the opportunity to meet them. She’s also a great cook and loves cooking traditional Italian food for her family!
What’s one thing most people probably don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I have a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do!