5 Questions with Division Commander of the Year Jamison Keller (Cal State San Bernardino)
Division Commander of the Year Jamison Keller reflects on his Sigma Nu story, what it takes to be a good alumni volunteer, and what his best practices are for advising and working with alumni
What is your Sigma Nu story?
When I came to Cal State San Bernardino, I initially avoided fraternities. My freshman year, I happened to walk by some of the different chapters tabling during recruitment. The first two fraternities I talked to were very stereotypical and turned me off. On my way out, I happened to walk by the Sigma Nu table and they were actually out in front and engaging. They didn’t talk about the fraternity and they asked questions about me. Sigma Nu was not what I thought about when I visualized fraternities.
The chapter brothers taught me a lot of things I needed to know. I learned how to tie a tie, how to sign up for financial aid — a lot of the things I couldn’t get anywhere else. I moved through the ranks and eventually became Commander. Being Commander unveiled what I could be — a leader and public speaker. It catapulted me to pursuing other positions on campus and gave me the confidence to learn who I was and successfully navigate a career in higher education.
What has your experience been like as a Division Commander?
I’ve always approached advising chapters from both an undergraduate and alumni perspective. It’s a partnership and the fraternity can’t work without both. I have an advantage over most because I work in higher education. I work with this age range almost every day and so I get to educate the alumni on the culture. A lot of alumni think that it is the same as it was when they were collegians. In reality, it’s totally different. My approach with alumni is always to help them see what a typical collegian sees.
What makes a good alumnus volunteer?
Focus on the fact that first and foremost we’re here for the collegians. This is their time to learn about themselves through Sigma Nu and it’s how we build future volunteers for the fraternity. A lot of collegians still see the fraternity as four years. Alumni need to be good role models for them to see that this is a lifelong commitment.
What have been some of your most rewarding experiences as a Sigma Nu?
Leading a chapter through strategic planning and seeing members make the decisions that will help them achieve their goals is very rewarding. On the individual level, it is great to see Sigma Nu craft and define a young man who is a minority or first-generation student. That is the power of fraternity and our values are so needed today. Society needs ethical leaders more than ever and it is crucial that we remain focused on our mission.
What are some of the best practices you have used?
One of the best things to do is to diversify the chapter’s AAB. If possible, it’s good to have a collection of different chapters represented on an AAB. Ideally the AAB will be represented by multiple generations and multiple chapters. Lastly, with technology, it is no longer essential for advisors to be physically present at all advising meetings. With Skype or Google+ people can video chat and have a similar experience to being physically present.