By Joey Thomas (Butler)
Editor’s note: Guest blogger Joey Thomas (Butler) 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 Henry Ellison’s guest post. The Collegiate Grand Councilman application can be found here.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill
As my plane landed in Tucson, Arizona, the feelings of appreciation, anxiety, and excitement began to overwhelm me, and simultaneously, Thursday, April 24, 2014 became a day I will never forget. It was that day that I had the utmost pleasure of finally meeting, in-person, the seven alumni members of the Sigma Nu High Council as one of four Collegiate Grand Councilmen. Memories of the monthly conference calls and brief run-ins at the 2013 College of Chapters ran through my head, but until this day, I could hardly compare myself with the prestigious men of the High Council. As I looked through the agenda for the weekend-long meeting, I recognized the names of Charlie Eitel, Joe Francis, and Lee Perrett. In my mind, there was a stark contrast between us. They are respected, dedicated, and successful. They have proven their worth to not only this great Fraternity but also in their professional and personal lives. To them, I could easily be seen as a lowly college kid from Butler University, who happened to stumble into a successful Sigma Nu chapter and be elected Commander. But they did not. In fact, they often seemed more impressed with the four of us collegians than we were of them.
As we gathered for dinner, I began to feel more at ease. It was at this point of relaxation that Regent Eitel asked each collegian to stand and “say a few words.” Immediately, the nerves returned. What would I say? Vice Regent John Hearn advised me to say something sooner rather than later, and as I stood to speak; I recognized that everyone at the table stopped eating and began to listen. This became the theme throughout the year. The alumni members of the High Council have continued to listen to my opinion, and in doing so, these brothers have taught me many valuable lessons.
After being elected Commander of the Epsilon Mu Chapter, I was immediately dubbed a leader. Throughout the year, I learned many lessons – most of them through my own failures. By the end of my term, I felt that I had finally earned this title. However, Executive Director Brad Beacham, and past Regent Charlie Eitel have taught me many more important lessons about effective leadership. As a Collegiate Grand Councilman, I have been able to witness a high level of respect and admiration for individuals and their opinions. Due to their dedication and ethical leadership, Sigma Nu has evolved into a well-oiled machine.
These alumni leaders have exemplified the values of our organization, and they demonstrate what it truly means to live by our values of Love, Honor, and Truth each and every day. Love is shown in the authentic friendships between all members of the High Council. Truth is uniquely manifested at each meeting as we discuss past experiences and openly communicate our opinions about the future of our organization. Lastly, Honor guides our every action.
I have had the privilege to stand among these inspirational alumni leaders to offer genuine insight into the current collegiate experience. By way of our principles, my voice is heard with clarity and significance. Our success does not come by simple fortune, but rather by a dedication to respect, moral rectitude, and the ability to listen to our fellow brothers. It has been an absolute honor to be a part of the High Council, to learn from the exceptional example set forth by these men, and most importantly to forward the ideals of our Fraternity for all members.