The story of the Theta Eta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha begins in the fall of 1975. That October, Mrs. Ernestine Henry served as Dean of Women. In this position, she sought to bring a new sorority to the SFA campus. Mrs. Henry gathered nine young women together to talk to them about her ideas. These women hardly knew each other, much less anything about starting a new group on campus. With a little persuasion and a sense of curiosity, the nine women formed the local organization Kappa Epsilon.
Throughout the school year, the girls were enjoying getting to know each other as Kappa Epsilon, but they had their sights set on something even bigger. They wanted to become a part of a national organization. That February, Kappa Epsilon began inviting national groups to the SFA campus. Two months later, Zeta Tau Alpha came and made an impressive presentation to the women. After careful consideration, Kappa Epsilon voted unanimously to petition Zeta Tau Alpha for membership. On May 11, 1976, Kappa Epsilon was notified by a letter from Martha Helms that the petition had been accepted. On May 23, 1976, fifteen girls were pledged into ZTA.
The long-anticipated initiation ceremony began on Friday afternoon, March 18, 1977, at the First United Methodist Church in Nacogdoches. Services continued into Saturday, March 19. Members from the Delta Zeta chapter of ZTA at Sam Houston State University were there to initiate the Theta Eta charter members and special initiates. Thirty-seven charter members were initiated into the Fraternity’s 176th link that day. What they began that day has touched the lives of over 1200 young women who have attended SFA.
Ten years later, the Theta Eta chapter began a momentous undertaking with the building of the chapter house. Ground was broken in January of 1987 on the most beautiful lot on sorority circle. The ZTA Fraternity Housing Corporation had worked with a local architect and builder to design a two-story home that would hold up to 40 chapter members. Building began as soon as the ground was broken and continued through a very wet spring. The home was completed just in time for the chapter members to return to campus that August. The home at 514 North Steen Drive became the second house on sorority circle, and still stands beautifully to greet everyone as the come over the hill on Creekbend Drive. Since 1987, an addition was placed on the house that gave the Theta Eta chapter a chapter room and a larger kitchen and pantry area.
In the four decades that ZTA has been a part of the SFA campus, its presence has been one of sisterhood and unparalleled giving. Our chapter has been proud to call Homecoming Queens, Miss SFA, Miss Greek, and three Traveling Leadership Consultants our sisters. Theta Eta has been a member of the ZTA Foundations’ Founders Club since its inception, giving more than $20,000 to the ZTA Foundation each year. In 2007, the chapter began a partnership with SFA Athletics to bring Pink Out to the SFA campus. Pink Out is the longest and most recognized philanthropy event at SFA with events that span the entire month of October. Our pink shirts can be seen all over campus and in the Nacogdoches community. Theta Eta alumnae have gone on to serve both SFA and ZTA as alumnae chapter members and officers, national officers, chapter advisors and SFA faculty. The legacy that was started that day in 1975 in Mrs. Henry’s office is a proud and storied one of sisterhood that will never end.