Meet the Panhellenic Council president

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Karen Gonski is the 2021 president of the Panhellenic Council.

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Associate News Editor

College is a time where students can learn lots of valuable lessons and skills in and out of the classroom. For many, college can be the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a leader.

In fact, that is what the president of Panhellenic Council, Karen Gonski, has learned during her time at Eastern.

Karen Gonski is a senior majoring in psychology and human services in pursuit of a career as a social worker.

Panhellenic Council is a council made up of nine of the 26 Greek-letter sororities who belong to the National Panhellenic Conference. Panhellenic Council’s mission is to develop and maintain sorority life and inter-sorority relations.

“My position entails me working with all nine chapter presidents closely to make sure sorority life succeeds,” Gonski said. “I also have an executive board I look over and delegate tasks for the entire community to prosper off of. In short, my position supports all Panhellenic chapters on campus to make sure we are performing to our best standards.”

Gonski has been a part of Panhellenic Council since her freshman year and is also a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.

“I was drawn to PHC because I wanted to help the greater good of the community and see how Greek life as a whole could thrive,” Gonski said. “I knew that I wanted to run for President after my first year on PHC because it was such a good experience!”

Gonski has not only been the president of Panhellenic Council. In the past, she had also taken on leadership roles such as the council’s vice president of community service and vice president of recruitment counselors.

Outside of Panhellenic Council, Gonski is also a part of Greek Inter-varsity, a Greek organization that “teaches students how to be Greek and still have a relationship with God.”

One of Gonski’s proudest achievements during her time at Eastern is how involved in the community she has been “while maintaining high academic success,” and she thanks her friends in Greek life and her professors for that.

“I have always valued my education and put that as my number one priority, but without the help of my Kappa Delta sisters, the Panhellenic Community, my professors, and the many mentors I have, none of it would be possible,” Gonski said. “EIU and all the opportunities it has to offer has truly made college a great experience and I hope that everyone experiences that too. Our campus is small enough to have strong connections with our professors and peers, and we do not realize how lucky we are because of that!”

Being a student leader, however, has not come without challenges for Gonski. She said that one of the biggest challenges she has faced as a student leader is balancing who she is as president of Panhellenic Council and who she is as Karen.

“Being a leader is hard because it’s not always about doing the fun thing, it’s about doing the right thing,” Gonski said.

According to Gonski, being a leader means having to make tough decisions, decisions one’s peers may not always agree with, but it hasn’t all been challenging. She has also learned a lot of valuable skills as president of Panhellenic Council.

Being a leader has taught Gonski skills such as networking, public speaking, timeliness and organization, skills that she said will come in handy in the future.

“Being a leader has also taught me how to work with a diverse group of people,” Gonski said. “I love working with all of the chapters on campus and making sure each of their voices are heard and they are comfortable with the decisions we make. At the end of the day, no matter what letters are on our chest, we all come together to support our community to make sure we are successful.”

As a “social butterfly” who loves to meet new people, Gonski loves sharing her experiences with Greek life and how it has changed her life for the better with students on campus.

“Because of my organization and Panhellenic, I have changed so much throughout college,” Gonski said. “Surrounding yourself with people who love, care for you, and support you during a time as vulnerable as college is exactly what you need in order to grow into the young adult you are meant to be.”

She said she also hopes that she helps students see what Greek life truly is, not the stereotype it is often viewed as.

“With social media’s influences being as strong as they are, I want our student body to know that we are much different from the stereotypical things they may see,” Gonski said. “We truly strive to have a positive representation on campus by volunteering on and off campus, maintaining above average GPAs, and being involved in many RSOs.”

Her advice to Eastern students is simple: “Go for EVERY opportunity presented to you!”

“This may be in your respective chapter, Panhellenic, or other RSOs on campus,” Gonski said. “You will not regret it! Greek life prepares you for real world experiences and the rest of your college career. Don’t miss an opportunity that may change your life. I know I can say the positions I’ve held in both my chapter and Panhellenic has prepared me for my next steps after graduation!”

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]