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UT Panhellenic sorority members and Circle of Sisterhood founder Ginny Carroll

After hearing Ginny Carroll, founder of Circle of Sisterhood, speak about how educating women can break the cycle of poverty, members of the Panhellenic sorority community were inspired to support and raise awareness for the cause.

UT’s thirteen Panhellenic sororities have raised more than $40,000 in two years to fully fund the building of a school in Haiti.

The Circle of Sisterhood’s mission is to leverage the power of sorority women to raise money to remove educational barriers for girls and women facing poverty and oppression.

Abigail Powell, a senior graduating this week with a degree in kinesiology, has been involved with the project since the beginning. She served as the Panhellenic director of risk management in 2014 and as Panhellenic president in 2015.

“Sorority women make up one of the largest identifiable groups of college-educated women in the world, and I think that that is why it is so important for all our chapters to come together for this cause, Powell said.

“We have all been incredibly fortunate with our access to education, and it is so important that we come together to help other girls and women have that same access. Each chapter can do so much for its own philanthropy, but it’s amazing to see what we can do when we all come together in support of the same cause.”

The school is scheduled to be built this summer, but because of governmental travel warnings due to unrest in Haiti, thirteen members of the “Trek Team” are unable to attend the ground-breaking ceremony set for next week.

However, Trek Team members will lend their hands to another school build in Malawi, Africa.

Members of the UT Panhellenic Trek Team 2016
Members of the UT Panhellenic Trek Team 2016

Students will be in Malawi May 15–22 with buildOn, an organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy through service and education.

The UT women will stay with host families in the community and work alongside community members to begin building the school. Both the Haiti and Malawi schools will require that at least 50 percent of the students and adult educators are female.

Powell hopes the girls who attend the new school gain confidence through their education.

“I have been raised with the mindset that if you want something badly enough and you work hard enough, you can make it happen and I have been confident in that because of the resources I gained from my education,” she said. “I firmly believe that a quality education is the most important thing a child can have.”

Tax-deductible donations to support the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation can be made on the Circle of Sisterhood website. Please include University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Panhellenic in the comments section of the donation form.


Katherine Saxon (, 865-974-8365)