By Mark Nelson (Northwestern)
There are a small handful of things, I believe, that have been critical to my life’s development thus far. I think of my family, which has taught me respect and what it means to love. I think of my closest friends back home, who taught me humility. I think of my faith, which has shown me the importance of patience and trust. And I think of my fraternity, which has reinforced all these values while teaching me more than any college professor ever will. Until about a year ago, though, my definition of “my fraternity” was largely limited to my own chapter. This narrow definition changed completely when I joined the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation board of directors.
I was offered the opportunity to join the Foundation board well into my second term as Commander. Having already been to College of Chapters, I was hesitant to join. After all, I understood some of the work and prestige that came with the Collegiate Grand Councilman position. So why trade the chance to apply for a sought-after position for which I was well prepared, for a new position that I knew nothing about?
For me the answer was simple: the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation collegiate board member role gave me the opportunity to define a new position, support the long-term goals of Sigma Nu, all while working and learning alongside inspiring alumni who continue to give back to their Fraternity.
After over a year of service, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. The unforgettable experiences I have had on the board have been so many in number, they would require far more space to do their descriptions proper justice.
I could describe my time with Brad Hastings, the Foundation president, discussing World War II when outside the meeting room and planning ways to get collegians more involved when inside.
I could recall my time with Joe Gilman, a past Regent and past chairman of the Foundation, spending days at College of Chapters 2015 strategizing how to recruit other collegians to support the Foundation. I could also talk for hours about how I became teary-eyed when he bought a brick for the Pathway of Honor for everyone on the Foundation board.
Or I could write pages about my time with the current Foundation Chairman Al Wurster, driving with him to and from Lexington, talking about economics, favorite college experiences, families, visions of the collegians’ role on the Foundation board, and everything in between.
More important than my individual experiences is the broader characterization of the Educational Foundation. The Foundation board is a group of men who care deeply and passionately about Sigma Nu. It is a group that does more than donate their time; it donates their treasure. It is a group that selflessly spends free time finding ways to better the fraternity experience of collegiate members whom they have never met. It is a group that wishes you a happy birthday or networking opportunity when others forget. Above all, it is a group that exemplifies the true qualities of Sigma Nu.
While I cannot possibly convey here all of the fantastic parts of serving on the Educational Foundation, I can certainly try in-person. So, if you find yourself in Roanoke this January or in the Chicagoland area, I would be happy to meet and discuss the experience further.