Enjoying Sorority Life: Meet Carly Occhifinto

Carly Occhifinto, a member of Sigma Psi Kappa, enjoys sorority life at NJIT.

During high school, Carly Occhifinto had a jaundiced view of sorority girls.  Sororities girls, she thought, were superficial, vain and snobby – the kind of girls who devoted more time to their hair than to their equations.

But during her freshman year, Carly noticed that NJIT sororities defied the stereotype: They were diverse and inclusive; they emphasized academic excellence and community service; and they organized worthwhile social events that were also fun. She liked all that.  

Then one day, a friend told Carly that she had joined Sigma Psi Kappa.  She introduced Carly to some of the students in the sorority.  Carly liked the students. She also liked Sigma’s guiding principles: scholarship, service, leadership and friendship.  She decided to pledge Sigma, was accepted and became a “sister.” 

She’s happy she did. For by becoming a sorority member she enhanced both her academic and her social life. In this interview, Carly, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, talks about what it is she enjoys about Sigma in particular and Greek life in general at NJIT. 

What’s fun about being in a sorority?
We have a good time, do good events and also help each other, especially with school work. It’s a great group of women in Sigma, and we feel like a group. We don’t party hard. We are big on community service and fundraising but we also have a good time. We are open to all and we are not exclusive. That spirit makes if fun.

Where do you all hang out?
We don’t have a house, so we usually get together in the dormitories where our members live. We have 17 members.  Some of us study together in the dormitory lounges. We’ll watch movies and order food from the Portuguese restaurants in the Ironbound section of Newark. We bowl in the campus center. And we also do outings to New York City, to Chinatown or just to walk around the city.  In summer we’ll go to the beach, usually Seaside Heights. We’ll announce on Facebook that we’re planning a beach trip and then we’ll go. 

What fundraisers and events does Sigma do?
I think most students know us from our blood drives.  We do two drives a semester. But we also do themed events, like on St. Patrick’s Day we sold green shakes and on Easter we have a bake sale.  We also did a charity event to raise money to support ovarian cancer research. They are good causes and we enjoy doing them.

How does Sigma help you do well in your classes?
Being in the sorority gave me something to do and got me more involved in campus.  It helped me socially, and when you are happy and feel a part of something you do better in school.  I’ve made close and perhaps life long friends.  There are also other chemical engineering majors in Sigma and we help and encourage each other study.  So my GPA went up after I joined Sigma.  

So you changed your view of sororities?
Before I started at NJIT my view of sorority girls came from film, where they are often depicted as snobs.  NJIT is a diverse campus and a techie school and Greek life here is not like that at all.  I was happy to see that, I’m happy in Sigma, and I’d encourage other students to consider joining Greek life.  

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)