What are some of the biggest differences you recognize about yourself between now and when you first started college?
I want to note that it is a privilege and an honor to be selected as the Student Representative for the National Council. In regards to the question, when I first came into the fraternity as a freshman I was only concerned with the social aspect. As I moved forward in the fraternity, I realized that there was a greater need for me to take a leadership position for the betterment of the chapter. I had been told since I accepted my bid that I was going to be the Archon one day, but I didn't put much thought into it. As I kept growing in these leadership positions from Social Chair, to Chaplain, to IFC Treasurer, then eventually to Archon, I became a more confident, open-minded, and driven leader. I credit a lot of our chapter's accomplishments to those who came before us. I have learned to appreciate every initiated brother's contribution to this fraternity, especially our original founders. Richard Pierce (Chapter Advisor) and Gunnar Burts (Former Archon) had a great impact on me as a leader and as a person. They have taught me more about myself in the past year than I thought possible.
What have been your two or three most important or meaningful Pi Kappa Phi experiences?
My most meaningful moment was when the Alpha Chapter made history with its largest active chapter membership this past bid day. I came into the fraternity with only a handful of men left. To see how we rebuilt Alpha in four years into a campus leading, sustainable chapter has been remarkable and beyond what I thought we could ever be in this time span. The most rewarding aspect of it was that we did things the right way and lived by Richard Pierce's motto for us, "be smart and do the right thing."
Initiating into the fraternity was another big moment for me personally because that is the one thing that all Pi Kappa Phi brothers across the nation have in common. It is something that no matter where I go, I have this unique connection with all Pi Kappa Phi men.
What was it like being asked to join the National Council as the student representative? Do you have any specific goals you hope to accomplish with the National Council during your tenure?
It is an honor to be selected as the Student Representative to the National Council. To be able to sit in a room with Mark, Tracy, and all the others is humbling because I am being taught how the fraternity operates on a larger scale. Just from my first meeting I have gained a clearer picture of how I can help my own chapter.
I do have a couple of ideas, but I first want to gather our students' perspective from the Council of Archons, and other undergraduate members, in order to gauge which issues are of most importance to us as a whole. As the Student Representative, I believe it is my duty to represent undergraduates by what we all want to change, not necessarily what I personally want to change.
Have you always viewed yourself as a leader? How has your definition of leadership changed over time?
I have always viewed myself as a leader from a young age. I used to think that being a leader was about checking boxes and getting all of the awards for doing tasks. However, being a leader is about forming relationships with the people around you and building trust within those relationships. It is about rallying your peers to reach a much larger goal, which isn't easy to do when you are leading a chapter of college students. Sometimes adversity hits and a leader must do what is right for the betterment of the entire organization, even if it means disagreeing with some of your closest friends. I was told when I became Archon, "Doing what is popular isn't always right, and doing what is right isn't always popular." I believe that is critical to being a leader because you have to look at a larger picture than just the here and now.
Do you have any advice for new members just beginning their Pi Kappa Phi experience?
If I were to give one piece of advice it is to value the time that they have as an undergraduate. There is only once in your life that you get to experience college. I encourage new members to learn as much as they can, to work hard in the classroom, to get involved in their respective communities, and also to have a great time socially. It is key to be able to strike a balance early in their experience. I also encourage young members to gather advice from older brothers on what to do, or rather not to do in some cases. Learning from other peoples' experiences is helpful no matter what age. I also encourage older brothers to learn from new members, as some of the new members have taught me more about myself than I could have imagined. I may only have this college experience once, but I will forever have a lifelong brotherhood and I will always be in debt to Pi Kappa Phi.