When I got to college, I didn’t know who I was going to be or what I was going to do. I had a major in mind, but I wasn’t exactly sure if I was in love with it. And I knew I should probably join some type of student organization, but I had no idea which one out of the hundreds on my campus. So, like every freshman at BU, I went to SPLASH, a huge carnival type deal before the beginning of school where every on-campus student organization had a booth. I figured I could easily find something there; I was right. But I found so many things I was interested in that by the time I put everything into my calendar, I realized that there was no feasible way for me to be a part of 17 (yes, 17!) organizations. Plus, like my major, I wasn’t really in love with any of them. They all just seemed kind of interesting to me.
Thankfully, later that week, I got a text from a sophomore I met when I was moving in. It was a reminder to go to her organization’s info session. At the time, I didn’t realize how important that text would be. Because of that reminder, I was introduced to what I’m confident is the greatest group of individuals I will ever meet: my brothers in Alpha Phi Omega.
Alpha Phi Omega is a national community service fraternity. The 400,000+ brothers in the United States all embrace the cardinal principles leadership, friendship, and service in day-to-day life. Our greatest means of demonstrating these principles is providing service to our chapters, campuses, communities, and country.
I went through my pledging process with ease, and I was so eager to spend the next three and a half years with these wonderful people that all shared my passion for community service. By the end of my first semester, I was so excited to get more involved that I ran for the executive leadership board, despite only being a freshman. And somehow, my fraternity had the confidence in me and my “big” to elect us Pledgemasters for the following semester.
Unfortunately, it did not occur to me that being on the leadership board would be a lot of time and a lot of work. I was a leader in my chapter and I admittedly did not take it seriously. I was in way over my head. I had only been an actual brother for about two months, and I had little to no idea of how my organization operated. It was a really difficult semester because I was excited about how much fun being Pledgemaster would be, instead of being focused on completing all of the tasks that come with the job. Needless to say, I dropped the ball on a lot of things. Despite my mistakes and slip-ups, my pledges, co-Pledgemaster and I all made it through the semester.
After that rocky introduction to being a brother in Alpha Phi Omega, I decided I wouldn’t run for a new board role until I knew that I could truly handle it. And even though I wouldn’t be looked to as a leader if I wasn’t on the board, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be an exemplary brother. So I set out to be just that. In the past few years I have gone above and beyond all of my requirements, studied and memorized my chapter’s bylaws and operations, and have been an active participant in everything from weekly meetings to events that my chapter puts on. And through all of that hard work, I am looked to as a quasi-leader in my fraternity.
This past semester I decided that I was finally ready to truly dedicate my time and efforts as an executive board member. So I ran for President, and I was elected. The coming semester hasn’t even started yet, and it’s already been a tough job. But I’m excited about the opportunity because now, I truly understand what it means to be a leader.
In the past three years I’ve learned a lot about leadership. Much of that is from my fraternity because leadership is one of our three cardinal principles, and we actually take leadership courses. But I’ve also learned a lot about leadership by watching my brothers interact with one another, and through my own actions. No one has to elect you to office for you to be a leader. If you truly want to be a leader, you’ll be one.
If you think you’d be interested in becoming a brother in Alpha Phi Omega, or simply want to learn more about the organization, check here to see if your college has a chapter! And if it doesn’t, start your own!