What You Are, We Are & What You Do, We Do

Membership in a Greek-letter organization is one of the most valuable experiences that a person can have. To encapsulate the benefits, struggles, lessons, and memories I’ve gained would be impossible. Working with students in the field has allowed me to apply those benefits, struggles, and lessons in ways I never thought possible. The fraternal experience is applicable to countless avenues in life, and the leadership skills attained will continue to be honed for the rest of a person’s life. Sharing my experience and wisdom is one of the main reasons I became a fraternity/sorority professional. I would like to share some of that wisdom with you.

You are always wearing your letters.

Your behavior will forever reflect upon your organization. On my induction day, I will always remember these words, “What you are, Sigma is and what you do, Sigma does.” From that moment on, I was recognized not as April Young but April the Sigma Gamma Rho. Reflecting on that moment often provided me with a tool necessary to make the best possible decisions. Many members use similar mantras as a way to keep the name of their organization unsullied, however mantras like these serve their members far more than the organization at large. Fraternity/sorority members pledge to uphold and live out the values that their founders toiled to bring to fruition. Purporting to live our ritual and values holds each member to a higher level of accountability, helping them become the best version of themselves.

Inter-fraternalism is the cornerstone of the fraternity and sorority experience.

Inter-fraternalism is the promotion of sisterhood/brotherhood no matter the letters or the type of organization. When this principle is applied, communities and campuses are forever changed. Inter-fraternalism is the embodiment of “No Matter the Letter Greeks Do It Better.” The fraternal community was not created solely to become silos. All councils must be intentional about working with each other. While the organizations housed under each umbrella are different, there are lessons to be learned and skills to be gained from each and every one. It takes commitment and hard work, especially on campuses that have, in the past, been and remain siloed. Our communities must strive to work together, have mutual respect, share values and goals, cooperate, collaborate, and support one another for the greater good.

You really did join something bigger than yourself.

Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority exposes you to other students with lifestyles vastly different from your own. Make it your mission to learn from people who not only are different from you culturally but with different religions and family structures as well. However, each of these organizations has an inter/national scope with each member connected by a unique set of values. Take advantage of the fact that you have a network of supporters no matter where you go. Even within your own chapter, you may not talk to each member every day, but if you need something down the road you can take comfort in knowing that you’ve got a sister or brother in the next town or across the world looking out for you.

Joining a sorority has impacted my life, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Fraternity/sorority life is more than letters, more than traditional songs, a pin, rituals, an obligation, or a way of life. It is learning about people, giving without expecting a return. It is earning respect from others, as well as for yourself. Fraternity/sorority life will not solve all your problems, but you make great friends and find confidence to help you take life one step at a time. Fraternities and sororities can provide its members with social and business contacts for life. There are all kinds of organizations to choose from, and it is my firm belief that if anyone wants to become a member, there is a chapter out there for them. We are much more than Greek Week, strolling, date dashes, step shows, recruitment, and Homecoming. Every chapter is filled with unique individuals who bring something special to their organization at large. Being a member allows for not only lifelong fraternalism but memories that will last forever.

April Young, M.Ed., is the Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Missouri.


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