Going Greek provides students with leadership skills

Kate Bigam

Going Greek is a family tradition for Erin Bender, a member of Chi Omega sorority.


Think going Greek is only for ditzes and meatheads? Think again. Kent State’s Greek students join scores of Greeks who came before them, adding their names to a list that includes literally hundreds of recognizable names, from senators and presidents to CEOs and entrepreneurs to actresses, artists, musicians and more.

• Presidents Carter, Eisenhower, Hayes, Ford, Kennedy, and both Bushes, were all Greek — and that’s just the beginning.

• Adam Sandler, comedian — Tau Epsilon Phi

• Sue Grafton, mystery author — Pi Beta Phi

• Betsy Johnson, fashion designer — Alpha Xi Delta

• Carrie Underwood, “American Idol” — Sigma Sigma Sigma

• Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor — Alpha Chi Omega

• Coretta Scott King, activist — Alpha Kappa Alpha

• Georgia O’Keeffe, artist — Kappa Delta

• Katie Couric, news anchor — Delta Delta Delta

• Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons” — Sigma Chi

• Ruth Bader Ginsbert, Supreme Court justice — Alpha Epsilon Phi

• Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook creator — Alpha Epsilon Pi

• Maya Angelou, writer — Alpha Kappa Alpha

• Stephen Spielberg, director — Theta Chi

• Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, children’s author — Sigma Phi Epsilon

• Will Ferrell, actor — Delta Tau Delta

Source: Greek101.com

From a biological family of Greek alumni that includes her parents, grandparents and uncle, Bender said her Chi Omega family, primarily her Big and Grandbig (older members who act as mentors), pushed her to get involved within her sorority and the greater Greek community.

“It’s pointless to be involved in something and do the bare minimum when there’s so much potential to do more,” she said.

Bender, senior exercise physiology major, is president of the Inter-Greek Programming Board, which organizes social and charitable events for most of the Greek community. She said that, through her involvement with Greek life on Kent State’s campus, she has learned valuable skills that she will carry with her after her college years are through.

Bender is one of nearly 1,000 students on campus who is a member of a social Greek organization. Kent State is home to local chapters of 19 national fraternities and nine national sororities, as well as one local sorority that exists solely at Kent State. Kent State also has a chapter of Alpha Psi Lambda, a co-ed fraternity for students interested in Hispanic culture.

Each chapter presents its members with countless opportunities to hone their leadership skills. Besides typical executive positions, most chapters also have multiple vice presidents who oversee individual elements such as recruitment, philanthropy and membership. Members also have opportunities to join various committees that plan and orchestrate special events both within their chapter and with the Greek community as a whole.

Aside from individual chapter positions, Greek students can seek positions on the executive boards of the governing Greek bodies, like Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council, which oversee the sororities and fraternities respectively. Similar positions are available on the coed Inter-Greek Programming Board and the Black and Latino Greek Council.

Although many Greek students join sororities or fraternities for the purposes of making friends and having a built-in social schedule, Bender said that by accepting leadership positions, she has gained much more.

Kevin Folk, senior political science major and a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, agreed. Folk said students who choose to get involved in their chapter open themselves up to learning skills that will become valuable when they enter the workforce upon graduation.

“Any career path I choose will definitely have interaction with people,” Folk said. “Through being Greek, I have the skills that I need to interact with just about everyone I encounter. I’ve learned how to work with people in a professional setting.”

Folk, who joined Sigma Nu his junior year, served on the fraternity’s executive board. He said that through his experiences in Sigma Nu, he gained the confidence and people skills that he struggled to find prior to joining the fraternity.

“I used to be such a nervous person,” Folk said. “Through my fraternal experience, I’ve gained so much maturity-wise and personality-wise that will contribute to the person I will be for the rest of my life.”

Danielle Keckley, a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, experienced firsthand the ways that being Greek can be beneficial beyond college. Last year, Keckley was able to use her Greek experiences as a stepping stone into an internship with the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team.

“(The interviewer) saw Panhellenic Council on my resume, and we talked about that almost the whole time,” said Keckley, sophomore sports administration major.

Keckley said employers who hire Greek leaders are at an advantage because these students are already well-experienced in leadership and people skills.

Aside from the résumé-building aspect, Betty Quick, National Panhellenic Conference chairman, said Greeks have connections to other collegiate and alumni chapters, as well as to chapters internationally. Regional Greek conferences, which bring Greeks from different chapters together, also provide opportunities for education, leadership and networking, she said.

Contact Greek life reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].