Paula Roediger, ’89, landed at Heidelberg thanks to a strong academic record in high school and a connection with alumnus and Trustee Ted Hieronymus, ’65. Ted was the longtime director of the Mentor Top 25 show choir and Paula, a Top 25 member, was among a long list from the group who chose Heidelberg.
She double majored in vocal performance and political science through the Self-Design Program, the forerunner of the current Honors Program. Once on campus, she was quick to get involved in Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Orchestra, TSD peer facilitation, hall councils, and most importantly, Greek Life. The Philalethean Society really captured Paula’s attention and her heart. Just as Heidelberg was a good fit, so was the Philalethean Society.
“I loved the history and tradition of the Phis,” says Paula, “and that it was a difficult pledging program. I was really drawn to the challenge of it and I loved that they were one of the oldest (women’s Greek groups on campus).
“I liked that they were over-achievers, and I am, too … a nice one,” she laughs.
As a young alumna, Paula remained involved with the Phis while in grad school at Bowling Green State University. Even after she and her now-husband moved to New York, she still kept her foot in the door, supporting Heidelberg and the Concert Choir, and for the past 13 years, she has served as an alumna advisor for current Phi members.
In 1993, Paula returned for her first of three stints as a soloist for the Christmastime performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” in the days when the venue was Seiberling Gymnasium. A year later, she served as a guest artist for an opera performance on campus.
“I feel like that giving back is just what you do at Heidelberg,” she says.
While in high school, Paula got to know the late Joan Hoernemann, who became a great friend. “She was really special. Every semester, she’d take me to lunch or dinner, somewhere nice, and talk to me about the Phis and choir. She was a great example for me,” Paula says.
All of the kindnesses and connections have come full circle, culminating in a popular and growing Alumni Weekend event – the Greek Alumni Reception – which Paula has coordinated since its inception five years ago. A short time prior to that, during New Member Education, a loyal group of Greek alums decided to do something about “the poor image of Greeks on campus” and related issues.
At a part commiseration, part brainstorming session, they asked themselves a question: – “What can we do as alums to make this better?” They wanted to demonstrate their unity and their potential, not only as alumni, but as donors.
“As ‘80s and ‘90s grads, the time has come when we are going to be the people who are asked to support Heidelberg,” Paula says, acknowledging the large pool of potential donors among Greek alums.
“If we can have an event to draw in our era, along with young alumni and older alumni, we’d be able to show we’re a part of the conversation at Heidelberg,” she says. “And it would be fun and a great networking opportunity, too.”
Thus, the Greek Alumni Reception was born. Last year, the number of participants grew to nearly 200.
“I’m really proud of the reception. It fills a niche with a really good mix of young and old. That’s awesome,” Paula says. “This is my way to give back to the people who gave me a lot.”
But it’s not a one-woman show. “Each year, Greek alumni from each group donate funds to pay for the decorations and help with the set-up. Each year, they come through to make the event special. I want to give them credit because I certainly couldn’t do it alone,” she says.
The 2018 Greek Alumni Reception will be held at France Great Hall from 4:30—6:00 p.m. Saturday, June 23. If history is an indication, this year’s festivities will be bigger, better and more fun than ever.