Nate Baker, 2013 MVS scholar sponsored by Tyrone, Pa., Lodge No. 212, is the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board and new to college life. Throughout his first year of college, we’ll be following Nate through monthly blog posts. Check back each month to see what new adventures Nate encounters during this first year at Cornell!
About halfway through January, I was confronted with a decision that would shape my next three and a half years in college. This decision answered a few key questions about my future: Who was I going to live with? Where would I live? Who are my best friends going to be? And, most importantly, which fraternity am I going to join? The period referred to as “rush week” was over—my body ached from skiing, paintballing, and walking. Dinners, activities, parties, and about five too many “speed dating” events had decimated my stamina and made my choice extremely difficult.
Three houses extended bids, or invitations to join, to me after all the recruitment was over. I sat in my room contemplating who I would choose. Who had the best house? Who had the best location? Who had the best events? Who has the best GPA? Who has the best sorority relations? As I stared at the three pieces of paper with my name on them, I became more and more confused. Ultimately, the choice came down to one essential question: Who did I like the best? It was then that my stress was lifted and I knew which I would choose: Sigma Phi Epsilon or SigEp.
It may be cliché to say, but joining SigEp has been one of the best decisions I have made so far in my life. There is sometimes a negative stigma associated with fraternities, but as an insider looking out, it's not all about recreating Animal House. Scholarship, service, fitness, responsibility, leadership, and relationships are what constitute Greek life.
As for scholarship, joining SigEp has actually eased the stress of schoolwork and given me the opportunity to connect with older brothers who have already taken the courses I am currently taking. It's this mentor aspect and dedication to academics that results in an increase in GPA comparatively to non-Greek students.
Regarding service, I have been elected as our chapter’s philanthropy chair. I am charged with the duty of planning an event to benefit a charity or organization. I coordinate with other fraternities and sororities in order to attend their events and bring their members to ours. It’s a community of giving unlike any other.
Physical fitness is also important to a successful student. SigEp promotes a “Sound Mind, Sound Body” initiative. Weekly workouts and an in-house weight room have been whipping me into shape and have me feeling more energized and confident.
Lastly, but most importantly, the relationships are what constitute a great experience within a fraternity. No matter what time of day, I can always drop by and have someone to talk to or simply hang out with. Each and every one of the people I have met has become my friend and my brother. Having this support system is most important to me.
In a similar light, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a fraternal organization. Just like SigEp, the Elks promote the same values and have similar programs to demonstrate them. As for scholarship, the scholarship programs provide funds to intelligent, talented, and many times needy students in order to further their education. Service is promoted through Elks scholar volunteers, veteran service, and many community projects at local Lodges. The Hoop Shoot Program is an example of the Elks’ commitment to physical fitness. Lastly, but again, most importantly, are relationships. The relationships formed within Elks Lodges are just like the bonds created at my fraternity. Members are held responsible for each other, can bond over shared values, and are working toward a common goal.
Overall, joining Sigma Phi Epsilon has been a time-consuming, yet rewarding decision. I have enjoyed nearly every second and I can't wait to see what the next few years and the rest of my life brings as being a SigEp. At the end of every message, we sign-off with “VDBL” which represents our founding principles—Virtue, Diligence, Brotherly Love. Fittingly, the founding principles of The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks—Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, and Fidelity—even share a core principle with SigEp. So, until next time...
VDBL + CJBLF,
Freshman Elks Scholar Advisory Board Representative
2013 Most Valuable Student Scholar