Fall is no doubt my favorite season. From autumn leaves and cool nights to sweater weather and football season, I look forward to it every year. Working on college campuses for most of my life, I especially delight in the fall with so many new faces on campus and our fraternity and sorority leaders stepping into roles to tackle new goals and making the experience a little better for those that follow them.
Homecoming is an especially sweet time. I seem to notice the older couples in the crowd at football games and hearing their stories about how they met at UT or they still come to as many games or events as they are able to attend. To see the legacy of the University, you only need look around and see the sense of pride a community has in this Big Orange Nation. For many, the memories of walking in Homecoming parades or preparing for a Homecoming Stepshow or simply spending time with brothers and sisters preparing for events are some of the great memories of college.
When I think about the timeless value of fraternity/sorority… I believe it is one of the most widely available transformative out of class experiences a university may offer its students. While it is not for everyone, when we are doing all we are designed to do, fraternities and sororities help individuals to become a better version of themselves. We seek to become better students, to be closer friends, to make the world a better place and all the while becoming better people. We are all uniquely gifted with talents, but within fraternal organizations we have an opportunity to contribute those talents to the greater good and in turn we polish those skills for the future.
Where do your talents lie? Put them into action. Are you looking for ways to grow? Challenge yourself to learn something new. Take the Greek Leadership Class that is offered each spring. Are you interested in being a leader, serving on committees? Opportunities are everywhere in your chapters, in your councils, all over campus. Are you involved outside of the Greek Bubble? All of our members should be involved in at least one outside activity for your benefit and ours. Are you frustrated in practices of the past and want to see change? Your voice may be the one everyone has been waiting on. Invite others to join you in positive change. Do you think your brother or sister would be a great leader? Tell them. Use your voice to encourage others. Do you want more people to know about the good work that your chapter does for its members? Tell the stories, post pictures, ask people if they have ever considered joining, or would like to check it out. Every single one of us has the power to have impact. In fact, real change isn’t found in a single leader, it is found in small changes, and millions of small decisions that are made every day by all of us.
So the season of college happens quickly in the context of a life. One day, you will be the one with white hair, telling your stories to the next generation of college students about what is magical about this University to you. Now, it’s your turn. What will your legacy be? Make it count.
Happy Homecoming Rocky Top Greeks!
Kelly Phillips serves as the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-974-2236.