Nearly 10 years ago, alumna Susan Vernicek, Gamma Zeta, launched Identity magazine with a simple purpose: to inspire women to accept and enjoy themselves for who they truly are.
“Everywhere I looked, I saw messages persuading me that I should be someone else, change my body, or buy this expensive shirt that actress so and so has,” she recalls. “Even in magazines like O, The Oprah Magazine, articles teach women how to live their best life and embrace who they are, but ran advertisements next to the articles that marketed the ‘perfect’ body and face. In fact, I started my career creating posters like these, digitally altering faces – including my own. Thankfully, I soon realized that this fakeness was not worth aspiring to. Instead, I decided to just be myself, and strive to be the best version of me that I can.”
Susan started Identity to create a space where women can, in her words, “showcase themselves as is, so-called ‘flaws’ and all.” The digital magazine runs articles and blog posts about many facets of women’s wellness including career advice, personal growth, and adopting and maintaining a strong sense of self. Susan also tours the country giving speeches and holding workshops on self-awareness and achieving a healthy self-esteem. In May and June, she will host the Identity Live at Sea Celebration and Empowerment Cruise to Bermuda, featuring speakers, workshops, and self-help sessions for women.
Susan knows about what she speaks. For her, the road to well-being and self-acceptance was difficult. In college, she struggled with alcohol and a debilitating personal relationship. “My Alpha Sigma Tau Sisters in Gamma Zeta had to hold an intervention for me,” she remembers. “They helped me get my drinking under control, and supported me through my ‘rock bottom moment.’ Because my Sisters caught on to the problem, spoke up, and stuck with me, I was able to conquer another life challenge and and get onto the path of well-being. Who knows what would have happened if not for them. It was turning point in my life, and I am forever grateful.”
Today, Susan believes that every experience, good or bad, can help create self-awareness and self-respect. “Every obstacle in life is a step closer to realizing who you are,” she says. “Every experience can build character and self-acceptance. I wouldn’t have accepted who I am without the confidence gained by overcoming hurdles.” She calls this accomplishment “getting the A’s in life: Accept, Appreciate, Achieve.”
Carrying this message to others is her life’s work.