by Ashley Johnson | Photo by Jason Flowers
Growing up in Gilmer, Texas was idyllic for Sarah Sharp Allen.
“It was a time when you still had the freedom to roam the streets as a child,” she said. “We had one rule-be home before the street lights come on. It gave me a lot of confidence and taught me to be independent.”
As much as Sarah loved her hometown, however, she wanted more.
“I was the first person in my family to express a desire to go to college,” Sarah said. “I knew if I had a college education, I could get a job, hopefully as a teacher.”
With many of her friends choosing to attend East Texas State University, she thought it would be a good fit for her too. Her mother worked 16-hours a day for three months to pay for Sarah’s first semester at school.
The next year, she worked in Binnion Hall, which covered her room and board. Then all she had to worry about was her tuition and books.
“I prayed a lot for my tuition,” Sarah said. “God came through every time.”
From that point on, Sarah dedicated every honor she received including Homecoming duchess and 1960 Woman of the Year to her parents. It was her way of repaying them for trusting her to do her best and working hard so she could achieve her dreams.
Sarah’s mother encouraged her participation on campus with groups like the Kaidishan social club, which became Kappa Delta Sorority during Sarah’s junior year. As a leader in Kaidishan, Sarah was privileged to be one of four women who signed the founding charter.
“Kappa Delta brought with it a new kind of sisterhood,” she said. “If we had remained Kaidishan, the bond wouldn’t have extended beyond East Texas.
I’m happy ET is now Texas A&M University-Commerce because of the prestige it brings to the school, especially in this competitive environment.”
It was the KD bond of sisterhood that helped her adjust to her new life as a teacher in Long Beach, Calif. after graduation. As she pulled into the parking lot for first time, she saw a bumper sticker that read “I’m a Kappa Delta.” It belonged to another teacher who later invited Sarah for her first Thanksgiving away from home.
Years later, Sarah connected with the Newport Harbor KD alumni group. In 1996, she was named Southern California Kappa Delta Alumni of the Year in honor of her involvement and volunteer efforts.
After losing her teaching job due to district cutbacks, Sarah invested even more time helping Kappa Delta raise money for its philanthropies selling Sally Foster gift wrap. After making $4,000 the first year, Phillip Foster asked Sarah to become their first sales rep in California. With a passion for the product and fundraising for schools, Sarah was consistently the top sales rep in the Western U.S.
“Although I only had a year as collegiate Kappa Delta, I’ve had 32 years to enjoy sisterhood and philanthropy as an alumna,” Sarah said. “I believe this has been God’s plan for me, and it’s been a fun journey.”