Reflecting on #myFraternity

Thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday’s myFraternity campaign! Through your posts on social media, we heard hundreds of inspiring stories of fraternity and were reminded why so many of us remain involved with Zeta Psi years after our time as undergraduates. Below, we’ll share some of our favorite #myFraternity stories from Zetes across social media:

John Spohn, Pi '81

“Sept 12 is the day to share about #MyFraternity

My education at Rensselaer is the defining experience of my professional life and besides family, my entire life. My technical effectiveness stems from my degree, but it is catalyzed by the collaboration and leadership skills I developed in the ‘incubator’ environment of my fraternity, the Pi Chapter of Zeta Psi.

As an ‘independent’ sophomore I found myself leading a group of students interested in the camaraderie and collective responsibility and achievement which we all perceived in Greek Life. But we were deeply troubled about the prevailing hazing culture and unwilling to participate in it.

At the suggestion of the Dean of Students we connected with the Alumni of the closed Zeta Psi house. It was Fall 1978 and Animal House was tearing it up in theaters. Nevertheless our ‘no hazing’ approach steadily attracted students the who grew the chapter and ultimately re-opened the chapter house, totally refurbished with our own labor, students and alumni together.

Together with my brothers and our alumni mentors I learned that technical skills are the essential ingredient in project success, but in the face of a project with long odds, they alone are insufficient. A few of us had experience in plumbing, electrical, or construction yet it was the collective commitment, the willingness of the inexperienced to pick up that hammer or spackle trowel and contribute on top of their personal and academic pursuits that laid the foundation for a chapter that would become a leader in campus life for decades to come.

Being able to think strategically and tactically, recognizing the different things individuals could offer and creating environments that inspired the willingness to try are benefits I earned making my Greek Experience at Rensselaer. They’ve been essential for leading teams in industry, radiotherapy devices and biopharmaceuticals and in ongoing leadership in my professional society and fraternity where I have been able to ‘pay it forward’ mentoring the young men and women inspired to lead us in future.

All thanks to #MyFraternity #proudtobeazete”

Timm DesRoches, Delta Kappa '08

#myfraternity is today and I’d like to share a few words and experiences.

I had always been interested in joining an organization like this one. Being from the east coast of Canada, I, like many other Canadians, thought fraternities were an American thing; I was wrong.

As Tyler once said, “A piece is Zete trivia is what chapter did Timm DesRoches join?” I joined our short lived Delta Kappa chapter at the University of New Brunswick under the superior leadership of Graham Little. Soon after I transferred to the University of Alberta and helped revive the Mu Theta chapter.

I made it a conscious effort to travel to convention as much as I could while I was an active; I’m glad I did. Now I have 9 under my belt and am looking forward to the next one. Convention allowed me to make so many lasting friendships and grow closer and closer to my brothers.

The most important thing I can say about my fraternity is that what ever you put into it it comes back five fold.

I have visited 20 plus chapters throughout Canada, the US, and the UK. I have made friends that have passed away (Troy Z and Dr. Lou) I have made friends who graduated in 1952 and those who have graduated in 2018. I know that all I have to do is walk up to a brother and introduce myself, shake his hand, and immediately we have something to talk about and start building that bond.

I’ve only experienced this kind of connection with a small group of officers when I was in the military, and yet, our fraternity genuinely creates and gives you the ability to create relationships like this everyday.

I love you all.
Yours faithfully in Tau Kappa Phi.

George McNeillie, Theta Xi '73

#myFraternity is Zeta Psi — and I had such a wonderful experience as an undergraduate, as an employee, and, eventually, as international president, that I still often take part of my vacation to attend a convention. In 2011, I was privileged to present my best friend Greg McElroy with the Distinguished Service Award (Zeta Psi’s highest honour) in New York. The North American Interfraternity Conference has asked us to post about our positive fraternity experiences — and I have no hesitation doing so.

Stone Lyons, Delta Chi '15

The Value of Fraternities – For most, all we hear from the mainstream media is negative press about fraternities. Today is September 12th, and the day I share my thoughts about #myFraternity

My fraternity experience is somewhat unusual as I joined Zeta Psi Fraternity much later in life, in my late 40s. I was approached by a friend of a friend – to produce video interviews with elders of the fraternity. These “elders” to be interviewed all had unique life experiences and stories worth capturing for future generations. During this time, I also met many other “Zetes,” all who were wonderful, fun, and successful; and, who shared my values of generosity, honesty, and kindness. Indeed I think the feeling was mutual as they soon invited me to become part of a select group brothers who joined the fraternity later in life. Included in that group is: a priest, a chef, an FBI Agent, and now me, a humble but charming, video producer :).

I could see by the look in the eyes of some of my friends that they were a bit perplexed that I would join, a fraternity! EEEK! Actually, I was a bit amused by their perplexity, because I knew from my interaction with these Zetes, that there was something quite unique about this organization. In short, I was as much honored to join the fraternity as I was intrigued.

The college I attended for my undergraduate studies didn’t have any fraternities, so admittedly fraternities were a bit of a mystery to me. I had one high school friend who who joined a fraternity at another university; and, he was a good guy but other than that, I assumed that fraternities were just an excuse to party. Well, at my college, we had no fraternities and there were plenty of parties from which to choose. So, what was the big deal?

Now, I know exactly what the big deal is…

During the past several years of being a member of Zeta Psi Fraternity, I have conducted dozens of interviews from ages 18 to 87; and, what I discovered was a common thread of honor, decency and respect that bonds the brotherhood. I’ve seen brothers fight for greater and greater diversity within our chapters, and throughout the fraternity’s international educational programs. I‘ve witness the selflessness of brothers of all ages giving back to their communities. I’ve seen college freshmen gain confidence and slowly turn into leaders as they take on new roles and responsibility within their chapters. I’ve watched brothers face very real world challenges – some at which they succeed, and some at which they fail, but in the end, they learn and are better for it.

These are life-lessons that last a lifetime. Over and over again when conducting video interviews with our elders I hear them attribute their success to the early days at the fraternity. Perhaps not exclusively, but it’s a major contributor. Over and over again! Indeed many of our members stay active in the fraternity their entire life because there is something for them at each stage of their life.

It’s a very unique feeling to meet someone that you have never met before and have them treat you, and your wife/partner/children, like family, because in many ways it is like a family.

#myFraternity truly is about leadership, networking, mentoring, life-long friendships and respect; and, I am honored to be part of it!

Evan Pressman, Pi Tau '84

September 12th is the day to share about #myFraternity

Looking back now at the start of my fraternity experience, the same thought keeps circulating over and over in my brain: I have to be the most unlikely person to join a fraternity house. I wasn’t athletic, far from being popular, not the most socially gifted, lacking in self-esteem, fairly shy and introverted, etc. – how could I possibly get an invitation to join? Yea, I made the rounds with the houses at Worcester Tech during rush, but I always felt out of place and at times, unwanted.

Then there was Zeta Psi. At that time in 1980, it was one of the newest and smallest houses at WPI. A great bunch of guys that enthusiastically welcomed me from the first moment I walked through the doors of 32 Dean Street. Guys like Steve Montibello, Jack Traver, Peter Yee, Bob Bracket, Dave Smith, Mikey Sharon, and John (Jack) Watters, the latter two of blessed memory. They all believed in me, and truly wanted to provide that opportunity to join in their special bond of brothers. One of the happiest moments of my life was to have a group of these remarkable men come to my dorm room and personally offer me a bid. Since that moment, I never looked back, through pledging, initiation, and active & elder brotherhood to this very day.

One of my personal regrets in my youth was not to attend a Zeta Psi Convention while as an Active, but that regret is very much buried in the past. Going to convention is not just a major highlight on the calendar, it’s a glorious occasion to immerse yourself into the greatest concentration of Zetes in one place anywhere in the world. It’s the best opportunity to meet, learn, engage, laugh, promote, and inspire fellow Zetes from all over the planet.

I am proud of my service and commitment to this noble order that I will love and cherish, and will continue to do so as long as I am capable.

#proudtobeaZete

Tyler Boisvert, Nu Sigma '10

#myfraternity

I often tell students and Elders that the Fraternity is what you make of it. If you want it to be a 3-year experience in College, it can be solely that. If you want to utilize it for more, get involved. Everyone’s experience is different. A fraternity is just shared experiences with others and I’m happy to look back on the travel, trips, times in college, (except the time Eric slammed my fingers in a door) conventions, initiations, all the chartering dinners, countries and happiness I’ve had with Zeta Psi.

I’m getting married next year and on the last count will have 18 chapters represented and over 40 Zetes should be in attendance. Much to Margaret’s chagrin.

I’m proud of #myfraternity experience and know the 11 years that I’ve been a member is just the beginning.

Kevin Ziegler, Xi '16

#myFraternity was originally just something for me to use for professional connections and leadership experience in school… but Zeta Psi quickly became much more to me.

After serving as Treasurer and President of the chapter, I moved on to the alumni leadership roles I now hold as well as a vast network of international brothers that I’m lucky to call my closest friends. Whether they let me crash on their couch when passing through their city like Brant Davis, see once or twice a year at events like Tyler Boisvert, those I hold in high regards as trusted mentors like Will Woldenberg, or those I have never personally met… it is because of #myFraternity that I know there are thousands of other individuals that hold themselves to the exact same standards and values we learned to exemplify and live as Zetes in addition to a larger, global Greek Life community working similarly to build strong communities on campuses and in their daily lives.

Share your positive fraternity experience today, September 12th, using the #myFraternity hashtag.

Xi Forever and Always in Tau Kappa Phi!

Barth Gillan, Alpha Psi '85

September 12th is the day to share about #myFraternity

When I graduated from high school in one province and went away to university in a big city in a different province, the idea of joining a fraternity was not on my radar. The only thing I knew about fraternities I learned from “Animal House”.

It was through a neighbour that I met a Zete, who introduced me to some other members, and before you know it I was having fun. And then I was wearing a Pledge Pin. And then I became a Brother.

I got my education from my university, but I did my learning at my Fraternity. I learned that it is not easy to motivate others, but when you do the rewards are amazing. I learned that other fraternities, though our rivals, were filled with guys just like us. I learned that it is ok to eat a hot dog off the kitchen floor without fatal repercussions. I learned that ‘fraternity’ is a network of friends that is limitless – not bound by campus affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or geography. I learned that the teasing that can go on in a brotherhood can be severe, but it is always based on a deep underlying affection. I learned that failure is not as important as the effort. I learned, and continue to learn, that there are leadership skills in me that I didn’t know I had.

This year I returned to working for the organization that I love, raising money so that future generations can benefit from a similar learning experience that I benefitted from. To quote from a well-known poem, penned by a Zete:

“To you, from failing hands, we throw the torch:
Be yours to hold it high…”

#proudtobeaZete Zeta Psi Fraternity

Jon Ernesto, Nu Sigma '04

#myFraternity I’ll never forget the time when my newly initiated fraternity brother came to pick me up after my car broke down on the way back from the University of Maryland. He had already driven back to Seton Hall University and made the choice to get back in his car to drive another couple of hours back to pick me up. He didn’t have to pick me up, he chose to help a brother that was in need, stranded on the highway. Years later that same brother was one of my groomsmen, I was at his wedding, and now I am The Godfather of his daughter. Fraternity is not just for the couple of years you are in college, it’s a lifetime of opportunities to share friendship to become family. Fraternity has given me the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to give back. I am proud to be a ZETE. In TKPhi #ZetaPsi #myFraternity #Since1847

Ron Cass, Nu '84

September 12th is the day to share about #myFraternity.

A few years ago, in high school, I had missed the main weekend of scholarship tests at CWRU. I came the second week, and because it was off-schedule, I finagled an invite from high school alumni who were undergrads at CWRU.

They put me up at the Zeta Psi house. Even though it was spring break, many brothers were present. I remember Greg Rogers’ welcome in particular.

I did not know what I wanted to get a degree in. I did not know what career I wanted to pursue. But from that weekend I knew I wanted to be a Zeta Psi.

Years later I’ve benefited from too many friendships and acquaintances to count. I’ve helped carry the torch locally, and I’ve thanked those who kept it aflame for when I arrived. I’ve mourned brothers. I’ve watched new leaders step up to meet the need. And I currently have the great opportunity to serve Zeta Psi Fraternity; to repay the efforts of past brothers who nurtured the legacy I’ve benefited from.

#proudtobeaZete Zeta Psi Fraternity

Jay Maguire, Iota Alpha '92

Sept. 12 is the kickoff for the #myfraternity campaign. I tell people that Zeta Psi can be a transformative, life-enhancing experience for its members. I joined at 17 as a freshman at UT, and would have been lost in the great sea of our student body had I not met the men who would become my lifelong friends. As a volunteer alumni leader, I choose to spend time guiding our chapter and mentoring individual students because so many Zetes who went before me did the same for our brotherhood. They left a legacy of real values, including service to others, honesty, kindness and standing up for what’s right. The work our brothers have done since 1847 to build Zeta Psi into the group it is today is a foundation to build better men by encouraging the pursuit of a values-led life. Also, there’s the beer.

Robert Edgmon, Iota Alpha/Phi Lambda '88

Sept 12 is the day to share about #MyFraternity

My time in Zeta Psi at the University of Texas was the best part of my time in Austin; it wasn’t the best time of my life. What it did was create the foundation for the best times of life going forward because of the circle of true brothers I made then and the constantly expanding circle of true brothers I’ve been making over the past 30 years.

Here is but one of many examples of true brotherhood I’ve experienced thanks to ZY.

Dec 1994. While driving to the airport to fly to Houston to visit my pledge brothers over the holidays, my transmission dropped. I left the car on the side of the road, hitched a ride the rest of the way to the airport (before cell phones and uber), called a tow truck, made my flight, enjoyed the holidays with my friends with a great story to tell.

The fall of 94 was a rough patch for me; finances were tight but everyone had problems so I didn’t make it a big deal.

The day before I was to fly back to Seattle one of my pledge brothers asked me what I was going to do about transportation after I got back home. I said that I’d look for a cheap used car to get me by in the immediate future. My brother replied, “No that won’t work. Having a reliable car is one worry you don’t need right now. I’ve made arrangements with my bank so you can use my credit to buy a new car from a dealershp. You just have to make the payments so don’t go too crazy.”

I was speechless because of his generosity and also because he made the effort to know I needed help when I didn’t know it myself. That is a true brother; that is what my fraternity means to me.

Akil Middleton, Rho Alpha '08

Wow, who would have thought #myfraternity experience would lead me here? Fourteen years and a day ago I pledged Zeta Psi for all the usual reasons: I had gotten to know a bunch of the brothers and the house was cool and my friends were doing it so why not, right? It was just a local social group, wasn’t it? And if I didn’t like it I could just leave.

Ha.

As a result of that decision I now find myself part of a giant family that spans four different countries. And I don’t use “family” lightly: conventions are like reunions minus the crazy cousins (well, maybe with *some* crazy cousins; I won’t name names). I also accidentally–but happily–stumbled into a much deeper involvement: leading my chapter’s alumni board, traveling across the country and ocean to teach leadership courses, and now serving all of Zeta Psi as a newly-elected member of the fraternity’s executive committee. Whoa. And I thought I got a lot out of my four years as an undergrad! Now I’m understanding what that whole “lifetime membership” actually means.

Yes fraternities get a bad rap. And honestly, most of it is deserved and there are certainly challenges. But I ask you to not paint all chapters and organizations with the same brush. Zeta Psi–my local Rho Alpha and the organization as a whole–is doing a lot of good and I couldn’t be prouder.

Alan Phipps, Nu '90

Sept 12 is the day to share about #MyFraternity

I found myself at the Zeta Psi House at Case two years before I started college because my father and I were visiting campus. My dad had graduated from Case in 1955, and after our tours were done, he said, “Hey, let’s go visit my fraternity house and see how they are doing.”

So, in the fall of 1985, I found myself once again at the Zete House, accepting a bid (on my own merit, not the legacy of my father), and soon found myself surrounded by actives and alumni, some of which were contemporaries of my father during his time as a Zeta Psi. From there, Zeta Psi has become an anchor in my life – a place of continual discovery of new friendships forged in the bonds of TKPhi. That anchor extended and extends far beyond the walls of the Nu Chapter. Soon after joining, Kevin Shannon and Barth Gillan and Lauck Walton and others came to advise the chapter in their consultant role, and I learned that brotherhood was not limited to those at Case. I went to Toronto for LTI, and met the likes of Jeff Ball, who immediately became my best friend – just like Jeff is best friends with EVERY Zete he meets. In 1989, I went to Convention at NYC, and met Zetes from chapters all over North America. In 2009, I went to Convention in Cleveland, and was introduced to Zetes from chapters all over the world.

In recent years, thanks in part to the message of continual legacy given to us through the words of Troy Zenevich in Chicago in 2016, I have re-engaged through conventions and participation in Ritual Committee. Each time I go to convention I meet a whole new group of people across all age ranges, and I know that when I go to any destination, I can call them up, and we will have big time. Whether it be Stephen Halperin in NYC, or John Spohn in Providence, or Evan Pressman in Boston, or Ron Cass in Cleveland, or Pete Peter Langfield in Indianapolis (just to name a few). All brothers in Zeta Psi, none of them from the same chapter, but all of them great friends.

All thanks to #MyFraternity

#proudtobeazete

Alex Pruce, Psi '13

#myFraternity story is ongoing. I joined Zeta Psi in 2011 and my network of Brothers and my shared experiences continue to grow. Meeting those from Berkeley to Dublin, Toronto to London, Seattle to Ithaca, has been an incredible opportunity that 19 year old me did not and could not have appreciated. When I walked into Zeta Psi in January ‘11, I thought I found my home away from home. In fact, I did. I’ve seen it at conventions, by co-hosting our latest one in Ithaca last month where 285 Zetes and guests attended, monthly alumni dinners and annual banquets, homecomings, and the like. My parents still ask about going back for our fraternity’s parents’ weekend at Cornell and if they can go back without me. Zeta Psi, my Fraternity, is one of the best professional and developmental choices a person can make – I’m grateful that I made it.

Anthony Abbate, Phi '07

#myFraternity story is one of lifelong friendship and brotherhood. To combat the negative stereotypes of “Frats”, I’d like to highlight the leadership and connections I’ve gained through #ZetaPsi. From groomsmen to business partners to friends and confidants all around the world in all walks of life, I wouldn’t be able to live the great life I have today without the influence of my Fraternity.

I encourage anyone else who’s life has improved through their experience in Greek Life to post their story, and show everyone how significant, and positive, the impact of Fraternities and Sororities can be.

Darion Smalls, Nu Sigma '11

#myfraternity I still remember the first time I was asked why I was joining Zeta Psi and my answer was “I want to join because I want the connections after I leave school.”. I got a gang of crap about it at the time because I was talking about it in relation to the job market but I didn’t know at the time, how true that answer was. One of my best friends in the world is my pledge brother, he’s seen me through some hard times, we’ve been through some rough times but he’s no less my brother than the ones I’m related by blood with. When I rented my first house in Miami it was with one of the younger brothers in my chapter. When I was moving back from China and needed a landing pad it was my former President and one of my closest friends who interviewed me for and offered me a position at Zeta Psi IHQ. While working there I worked with one of the most stand up brothers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know and work with that I still talk with frequently about everything from professional development to whatever bs is going on in the day. Couldn’t pinpoint one story that encapsulates the hundreds of reasons that I’m grateful for my fraternity because the whole experience has been a great ride with an organization that I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of.

Lauck Walton, Pi '84

#myFraternity
I remember as a pledge learning the words to a poem, “When this new pin grows old” in 1981. I remember Christopher Johnston, a member of my pledge class, beautifully reading this poem written in 1895. I most certainly didn’t get the point then, but it stuck with me. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be in the room when this poem was read to perhaps a thousand men over the years.

As a young man, Zeta Psi helped me grow up. Zeta Psi gave me a purpose on campus that my academic programs failed to provide. My Pi Chapter Brothers – Actives and Elders alike — tolerated a lot of BS and failure on the way to making our chapter better. I am eternally grateful to them all.

Through the years, I tried to pay forward that gift – doing whatever was asked of me to make Zeta Psi better. I was privileged to work on IHQ staff in the 1980s. After that I volunteered at my local chapter, in Washington DC, and internationally. The more I gave, the more I received back. I always tried to help my Brothers make better decisions whether facilitating, mentoring, advising, or leading. I used those skills to have a great professional career in private sector colleges always trying to make things better while demonstrating our key values of loyalty, truth, and honor. It’s come full circle for me now as I am again serving at Zeta Psi IHQ – still helping make things a little better for students. #myFraternity changed my life. Like the poem says – “you cannot know how you are blessed until this new pin grows old”. #proudtobeaZete

Stuart Bowers, Phi Epsilon '81

#ZetaPsi is proudly helping young men prepare for leadership in chapters and in life after college. I learned more about leadership in my fraternity than I did in the classroom. Proud to be a Zete. #MyFraternity
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