Phi Alpha shines light on domestic violence through coffee house event

Coffee, good music and laughs were in abundance as people gathered in McLane Great Hall to support those who have been affected by domestic violence Tuesday, Oct. 14. October is national domestic violence awareness month so Delta Epsilon Phi Alpha (Phi Alpha) teamed up with Teach Them to Love (T3L) in Killeen to spread awareness.

Phi Alpha President Taylor Ballou gave a speech explaining Phi Alpha and what the honors society was all about.

Senior Officer Maya Wiemokly explained what exactly T3L was as an organization and the kind of work they were doing for those in need.

Briana Frederickson, Miss MHB 2017/18 and recent graduate gave a short yet powerful speech about domestic violence and was keen to share her story.

“My sophomore year I was in a relationship that turned abusive,” Frederickson said. She was “…assaulted by someone I did not know, and after that had happened I tried to commit suicide, and all of this happened within a span of five months. So, I had hit rock bottom, pretty much,” she said.

“Had” was the keyword, as she realized over the course of her time at UMHB what her purpose was, when she was suggested for the Miss MHB pageant by one of her professors during her senior year.

“Miss MHB is supposed to be this picture of grace, virtue,” Frederickson said. “And I thought there is no way I can do that.”

As a guest singer for the event, Frederickson was obviously talented in singing. She used it as her special talent in the pageant.

“I knew I wanted to sing, but I didn’t know what I wanted to sing. So I asked [the judges] if they could listen to my song I wrote and see if it was an option. When I played it they said, ‘you have to play it!’”

The song in question has no title. In fact, the title is whatever each person thinks it is. But, personally, an appropriate title could have been ‘Uphill Battle.’

“Everybody has a story and some people might hear my story [specifically] and think that my story isn’t filled with as much heartache, or even more heartache,” Frederickson said. “Wherever people are, they can find something to relate to in the song and get the message that it might be hard to keep going… whether they gave up, or kept going, I wanted this song to be for them.”

After a fantastic, tear-inducing performance by Frederickson, everyone broke off into smaller groups and chatted the night away. As the coffee ran out and the music stopped, people started to head home.

After hearing the sobering, yet very real story of Briana Frederickson, members of Phi Alpha believed the people attending the event would get somewhat similar messages with some variation. For example, Officer Maya Wiemokly shared her own thoughts on the message of the event.

“I guess I hope they would understand that domestic violence is a real issue, in this area specifically too,” Wiemokly said. “And that they would know through T3L and other resources, that there are people actively doing something about it [and Briana’s story] was the highlight of it.”

If you wish to support T3L and the Phi Alpha Society and their goals to help those in need, contact Dr. Myers at dmyers@umhb.edu for more information.

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