I am Tri Delta: Deborah Johnson
Trident | June 3, 2016

In this series of articles, we feature several members who make up our amazing sisterhood. They all come from different backgrounds and have different passions and talents, but they all share one commonality: They are Tri Delta.

Deborah Johnson, Nevada, got her first pony for her fifth birthday, and her love of horses grew from there. She attended her first horse competition at age seven and attended her first national championship at age 13. And she won her first national championship right before she started college.

She continued competing throughout college, juggling horses with academics and Tri Delta. “A lot of people thought you couldn’t do horses while you were in college, but I managed to do both,” she says.

In some ways, riding horses led her to Tri Delta. She remembers going through informal recruitment — then known as rush — in January. There were three meetings she needed to attend, but she would be out of town at a horse show during the last meeting. One group told her she had to choose between attending the horse show or attending the meeting. But Tri Delta told her she could attend the last meeting when she got back from her show. Deborah knew then that Tri Delta was for her.

“I thought, ‘Tri Delta gets it. They value who I am and what I can bring to the organization. This is going to work.’”

During all four years of college she lived in the Tri Delta house — the same house that her dad had worked in as a server when he was a member of Sigma Nu at the university in the ‘60s.

One day, when Deborah was searching for elective classes, a Tri Delta sister encouraged her to try communications. “She said the communications department was a lot of fun, and she was right!” Deborah, who was a business administration major, opted for a communications minor. She then went on to graduate school for a master’s degree in communications.

But growing up on the ranch that her family had owned since the late-1800s, Deborah always knew her career would somehow involve horses. She was halfway through her master’s degree when she decided to take the horses her family had acquired and open her own training facility.

Back then she had only 20 clients and focused exclusively on competitions. In 2006, after deciding she needed to expand the scope of the business, Deborah added a riding academy and opened the Reno-Tahoe Equestrian Centre. Today, she has around 120 clients, and she teaches riding to both adults and children of all ages. In addition to teaching, Deborah also serves on the Board of Directors of the Arabian Horse Association and travels across North America to judge horse shows.

She says the best part of her job is making a difference in the lives of her riding students — she has received many letters from students thanking her and telling her how much riding horses has impacted them.

Deborah also continues to juggle horses with Tri Delta, just as she did in college. She has served in several Tri Delta volunteer roles over the years, including chapter advisor, collegiate district officer, collegiate chapter coordinator, as a member of the Leadership Development Committee and currently as a member of the Bylaws Committee.

“I cherish every friendship I’ve made,” says Deborah. “I don’t have children or siblings, and Tri Delta is a family to me. I think about her members every day, and Tri Delta is part of who I’ve become. When I get into a challenging spot or decision, I reflect on the Ritual and think, ‘What should you do here?’ It does apply. I’m grateful the organization has given me the opportunities that it has.”

There are more than 200,000 Tri Deltas around the world who make up our sisterhood. Tri Delta wants to hear from YOU! What makes you unique? Tell us on social media using the hashtag #IamTriDelta.


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