Fraternity finds fresh motivation with national award

When Lambda Chi Alpha president Kegan Miller heard the USI chapter of the fraternity had received the prestigious Grand High Alpha award, he was “blown away.”

Lambda Chi Alpha sets up a table to advertise for the annual Teeter Totter event last spring. The fraternity draws interest to the actual fundraising event on Green River Road.
Photo courtesy of Kegan Miller
Lambda Chi Alpha sets up a table to advertise for the annual Teeter Totter event last spring. The fraternity draws interest to the actual fundraising event on Green River Road.

The senior mechanical engineering major traveled to Miami, Florida, with two other chapter brothers for the national Lambda Chi Alpha general assembly meeting the first week of August. He said the three of them never expected to be recognized for the highest award given to a chapter for operating excellence.

“Six or seven years ago, our chapter was in a bad spot,” Miller said. “Moving forward, we became a reputable chapter focusing on philanthropy. This award is now fuel for us to continue improving.”

As the current president, Miller said he and his fraternity brothers will not use the award simply for bragging rights, but to motivate current members to actively recruit.

“We’re not just a good time, we’re values-based,” he said. “We focus on philanthropies. The fraternities as a whole have an average GPA of 3.19, when the campus average for men is only a 2.97. Lambda Chi Alpha has been higher than that for three semesters.”

By informing students about Lambda Chi Alpha’s focus on service and excellence rather than just a social group, Miller said he and his brothers can change the partying stereotype.

He said even though formal recruitment doesn’t start until Sept. 1, Lambda Chi Alpha has a growing list of about 40 male students interesting in joining.

Blake Simon, last year’s chapter president, said new students won’t necessarily join the fraternity because of the award, but it will contribute to the sense of pride with current members.

“We’re not going to be perfect,” Simon said. “But I think what our motivation now is seeing how close we can get.”

He said during his term, reaching operating excellence as honored by the award was one of his main goals.

“Headquarters has recognized us as one of the top,” the senior biology major said. “So now we gotta walk the walk and follow through.”

Senior Blake Simon said in his four years with Lambda Chi Alpha, he’s seen all of his brothers contribute to the recognition of the Grand High Alpha Award.

“It’s great seeing everyone’s hard work pay off,” the history major said. “When I joined, there were only 11 guys, and we’ve been growing members and expanding involvement.”

Lambda Chi Alpha hosts an annual fall Pumpkin Bust fundraiser for feeding the hungry, and a spring Teeter-Totter-a-Thon to benefit the Special Olympics. Simon said after receiving the award, the chapter will likely expand their philanthropies and start new services.

“It’s always a thing that when we come back together for the semester we’re all excited,” he said. “With this award, we have even more motivation.”

Nick Zuniga, director of chapter services with Lambda Chi Alpha’s headquarters, said he’s seen USI’s chapter grow and improve over the years.

“Every chapter has its ebbs and flows, but they’ve been able to recruit strong members and establish a strong presence on campus,” Zuniga said. “They’ve also started to do well reaching out to alumni.”

He said the award focuses on the chapter’s last three years based on consultations between headquarters and the individual chapters.

“(USI’s chapter) has been incident-free for a number of years,” Zuniga said. “I’ve had interactions with them since I started in 2012, and I’m very fond of the chapter.”

Since a chapter can receive the same award again after three years, Zuniga said the USI chapter should expect that of themselves and make it a goal.

“It was neat to see (the USI Lambda Chi Alpha students) shocked to receive the award, but now they’ve won it,” Zuniga said. “They need to keep taking it to the next level.”