By Henry Ellison (Washington University in Saint Louis)
Editor’s note: Guest blogger Henry Ellison (Washington University in Saint Louis) serves as one of our collegiate leaders on the Fraternity’s board of directors. Each year, four outstanding collegiate leaders like Joey are appointed to serve a one-year term on Sigma Nu’s High Council (board of directors). The 2015 appointment application will be released soon with notification sent via email to all collegiate members. Initial questions about the Collegiate Grand Councilman position may be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For another account about the Collegiate Grand Councilman experience, check out Joey Thomas’ guest post.
You have nothing to lose in applying, and yet gain the opportunity to spend a year in the single most amazing and unique position available to collegians of the Legion of Honor.
About a year ago, I received an email that I assumed to be spam and deleted immediately. Well, almost. Luckily I hesitated and gave it a quick read (this would be a pretty short article had I not). I realized quickly that the email was not spam, but I still had no idea that it would lead to what has easily been the most unique, significant leadership experience of my life.
Sent from the Executive Director (I had no idea what that meant at the time), the email recommended I apply to the High Council (I had even less of an idea what that meant). I received the email late into my first semester as Commander of my chapter because I was registered to attend College of Chapters. Woefully ignorant about the structure of the national fraternity, I took the opportunity to do some quick research into what the email actually meant.
I was amazed and excited by what I found. The High Council, the highest power within the national fraternity when Grand Chapter is not in session, functionally the board of directors, had a place for collegians? I would have an opportunity to influence policy at the national level, as well as get a privileged inside look at how the national fraternity operates? I immediately started my application, took the next few days to draft it, and sent it in.
I remember so clearly first seeing the members of the Council during the interview at College of Chapters. Sitting across from me, asking me questions were some of the most accomplished and impressive Sigma Nu alumni on the planet. These men all had tremendous success in their careers, as well as their personal lives, and still took time to lead Sigma Nu, a responsibility they took on as volunteers. Simply put I was star struck, and then even more so floored when my name was announced over the speakers at the final dinner.
Since that night, my experience as a Collegiate Grand Councilman has been more than I ever could have imagined. I know that I have grown more in my abilities and style as a leader here than I have as a result of any other position. I have made amazing connections with accomplished industry leaders. I have gained a deep understanding of and appreciation for the structure of the national Fraternity, and am excited by the long-term leadership that we are so lucky to have, between Brad Beacham and the rest of the staff team. I have also been able to influence national policy using my perspective at a smaller, private university to ensure that our policy nowhere discriminates unfairly against any of our chapters.
Then Regent Charlie Eitel even honored me with a letter of recommendation for medical school. Finally, I have met some truly remarkable people that I will stay in touch with forever, especially the three other collegians that have served with me this year.
I whole-heartedly recommend that any collegian reading this with the opportunity to apply to the High Council for the following year do so. It has been an absolute honor for me, and between the people, the opportunity to get an inside look at the Fraternity, and the ability to shape how the Fraternity functions, it is an experience from which anyone would benefit.