January 30, 2019ALMONT — Gabrielle 'Gabby' Schlagel has always been a go-getter. The 21-year-old was Senior Class President when she graduated from Almont High School in 2016.
Dedicated to making a difference, Gabby was also active with the National Honor Society, student council, and the Rachel's Challenge club throughout her high school years. Her busy schedule also included cheerleading and participation in Girl Scouts.
When it was time to move on to college, Gabby took that innate drive to excel with her to Grand Valley State University.
Bold and capable, Gabby was eager to make new friends and connections at GVSU—and she thought joining a sorority as a freshman would be a good way to accomplish that.
She joined Alpha Sigma Tau with the goal of being its president one day.
Gabriel 'Gabby' Schlagel embraces her new role as President of the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority at GVSU.
Three years later, it's another accomplishment Gabby can check off her list. Choosing to accept the position wasn't easy, though. Gabby's heavy course load—a double major in entrepreneurship and management—made her eligible to graduate in just three years. Accepting the position of president meant committing to another year of school, pushing her graduation date back to December of 2019.
"I told myself to either go big or go home," Gabby says. "Debating whether to graduate early or being president of the sorority was stressful to decide."
Ultimately, she decided to rise to the challenge, and added a minor in marketing to her studies.
Today, she's on the road to accomplishing her goal to improve communication between the sorority's executive board and the chapter, and to increase attendance at fundraisers and other events.
Alpha Sigma Tau's philanthropic endeavors include a women's wellness initiative and the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life.
"Last year we raised over $15,000 for Relay, I'm super proud of that," she says.
The sorority is also active with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering time building homes and at the Re-Store.
Gabby says joining the sorority has opened her world to new people and experiences, and has helped her accomplish the goal of making connections.
"That's one of the major values of joining—the connections. I like that part the most, and it's why I joined."
Along with being elected President of Alpha Sigma Tau, Gabby was also recognized with an 'I am Grand Valley' award, bestowed to students who represent the best of Grand Valley. She was honored by the recognition.
"I definitely have the mindset of 'if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,'" Gabby says. "I enjoy putting myself out there enough to be able to make a change. I like having my opinion be heard, and the acknowledgement that I have something valuable to bring to the table. I was raised like that, and the older I get and more dependent on myself, it's becoming easy for me to do."
Gabby says her time at GVSU has opened her world to new people and experiences. She encourages other young people to follow their dreams and take the plunge.
"I say do whatever you want and don't let other people influence you when it comes to what's right and what's wrong for you," she says. "There are definitely a lot more people out there than you think. If you're interested in doing something big, go for it."
Gabby is the daughter of Nanci and Jeff Schlagel of Allenton. Her sister, Olivia—a fellow GVSU alum—has been a big influence in her life.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.