For the many December graduates, this last week has been a time of stress and excitement as they prepare to advance into a challenging world and depart from campus.
Graduation will be bittersweet for seniors Sara Litherland, Bryan Walker and Aaron Green, however, as they leave behind not one community but two. Sure, they will miss the spirit and atmosphere of CSU, but in graduating, they also part from their beloved Greek organizations.
“I miss it now, but I know I will miss it even more when I’m out of school,” Litherland, a communication studies major and Pi Beta Phi alum, said. “You’re a member of your sorority or fraternity for life, and when you’re sitting there and doing your senior farewells, you realize how fast it comes and goes.”
Litherland, who plans on working full-time as an executive team leader for Target after she graduates, credits her Greek experience with improving her confidence and helping her secure a job.
“It has been a really positive experience, and it has just kind of helped me to find out more of who I am and what I’m capable of,” Litherland said.
“The way I found out about (my job) is that my junior year, we did a career building preparation seminar through Greek about how to be successful in the job world. It gives you a lot of experiences you wouldn’t normally have exposure to outside of Greek life.”
While Litherland will remain in Fort Collins to pursue her career aspirations, her roommate and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Bryan Walker will be plotting a new course of action when he graduates next week.
“Because of the experiences and friendships (through Greek), I decided to enlist in the army,” Walker said. “It gave us the opportunity to develop into leaders and have fun and made me want to give back to my country.”
After commencement next week, Walker has anywhere from six months to three years of training for special operations in hopes of becoming a special forces medical sergeant. He acknowledges his leadership opportunities at the fraternity for shaping his character and encouraging his decision to enlist.
“I was VP of programming two years ago at Sig Ep, and I learned how to lead and follow,” Walker said. “The main reason it will help with my job is that I have to be able to listen well and give orders when necessary. The work goes hand in hand.”
The closeness of the members of the fraternity also played a part in Walker’s decision to join the armed forces.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Walker said. “I consider the guys (in Sigma Phi Epsilon) to be my brothers, like flesh and blood, and that’s the way it is in the army.”
Many other Greek graduates have benefitted from the cohesion of Greek life, including political science major Aaron Green. Green has taken full advantage of his Greek experience in the past four years, he said, committing much of his spare time to serving as a leader in the Greek community.
Past positions include: president of the National Panhellenic Council in 2007 and 2009, public relations officer for the NPC in 2008 and vice president of the Order of Omega, a Greek honorary society. He has also garnered awards as the Greek Man of the Year in 2007, as well as Chapter President of the Year. With that many management titles, it is no surprise that Green has a hectic schedule.
“It’s a time commitment to be able to study and also put on events and programs,” Green said. “The leadership of serving in an active position on campus has been a great opportunity to give back to the campus and community.”
Green’s future plans include working for a Denver law firm and attending either law school or graduate school, and the skills he has gathered through his Greek experience have helped him line up job opportunities. Though Green has relished his time in the Greek community, he admits that at times, it can be difficult.
“Working with the other Panhellenic organizations can be hard because we’re all busy with our own chapters,” Green said. “It’s hard to come together and work as a council, but it’s a challenge we’re excellent at maintaining.”
Litherland and Walker also agree that Greek life has its trials, but they are minimal compared to the advantages and memories they have acquired.
“The low point is having to say goodbye to it,” Litherland said. “It’s a big commitment, but you love it – that’s why we do it. We enjoy it, so it’s definitely something I will miss.”
Staff writer Aliese Willard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.