This Post was originally published on November 2nd, 2014
Happy Founders Day. If that means something to you then you will probably enjoy this essay, if it doesn’t then it will probably give you a glimpse into one of the things that makes me tick. Either way I suggest that you take a few minutes to read and learn a few things. 10 years ago I decided to rush Phi Delta Chi, the nation’s oldest pharmacy fraternity. At the time it was a very logical decision, many of my friends were PDC, I lived in unofficial chapter house, I felt that school was sucking the life out of me and I knew that PDC would be an opportunity for me to push myself to try new things and build some lifelong friendships. I think that turned out to be an understatement. The rushing and pledging process were tough, but nothing worthwhile in life is easy. I made it through and became a brother in January of 2005. From that time on PDC dominated my thoughts and life for the remainder of my college career and for a time after graduation. I wanted to be super brother, I went to every event that I possibly could, from the lowest study session to several grand councils. I filled my weekends with road trips, keg parties, and professional projects to the point that I could barely work or complete my schoolwork, which might be a reason why it took me 7 years go get my 6 year degree. I was devoted to the point of obsession, which probably explains why both of my tattoos are PDC related, and why I had very few non PDC related friends. Our chapter was very unique. We are one of the few all male chapters remaining and whenever you cram 20 alpha males into a small group it can make for great brotherhood, but also a lot of internal strife. There were always factions and cliques and someone was always mad at someone else for sleeping with his ex (or current) girlfriend. There were fights and factions, but the fact was that we were a bunch of kids and we were trying to find the best path and make our chapter the best that it could be. This might sound a bit depressing, but I don’t have time to detail all the good times. There were far more good times than bad, but even through the adversity we were able to form some of the strongest bonds of any PDC chapter. In grand council 2007 there were 19 active brothers (out of 24) making us the largest chapter in attendance, the second largest chapter was our alumni association which sent 12 brothers. These strong bonds kept me from getting burnt out and walking away, no matter how tough things got, and have kept me in touch with brothers almost every single day. As an alumnus I was extremely active. I worked so much during the first few years that I didn’t make many friends and found myself alone in Plattsburgh and Burlington. I would head back to Albany every other weekend to hang out with brothers and crash on people’s couches. Eventually I got burned out by this and cut back on the travel time, now I only make it back for certain events. I still remain active in the collegiate and alumni chapters and actually gave the keynote speech at the recent rush dinner. It is nice to be recognized for putting in the time to maintain the bonds of brotherhood, but honestly I just enjoy hanging out with the guys. Albany was my home for so long that I found it tough to move on. While I am mostly settled in Middlebury, I still feel the pull to go back and relive my youth. Fortunately I have been able to realize that nothing can change the past, but you need to grow up a bit and worry about the present a little more. I was fortunate to attend a lot of regional and national events and meet a large number of brothers from around the country. Most of these people were wildly different from me, but shared some of the same values and experiences. I actually met some of my best friends at these short events, people who make my life brighter and who I don’t think that I could live without. That is a big reason why I still go to these events. Want to do something embarrassing? Try explaining to your boss when you are 28 years old that you need a week off to fly out to *sigh* Omaha to attend your fraternity’s national meeting. Or to non college friends that you are driving 16 hours from Vermont to Tennessee to attend a ski weekend, when you haven’t skied since 1994 then driving back 2 days later. Or that you are skipping Vermont’s Funniest Comedian contest in order to go to Andy’s Sports Bar to sing Come Sail Away at the top of your lungs, drink all the beer you can and eat all the wings you can with college students from 1-6pm simply because you have attended wingding twice a year since freshman year, and this is the time that you take the lead for consecutive attendance, but you need to keep going for 2 more years so that you are able to overtake Goose for the overall attendance record. Yeah its kind of exhausting. Over the past 10 years Phi Delta Chi has been very good to me. I am grateful that 131 years ago on a cold, rainy, shitty day 11 students took the initiative to start something that turned out to be bigger than themselves. I am thankful that I was influenced to rush and pledge, and for everyone who has impacted my journey along the way. I have been able to surround myself with some great people, and create a kind of second family. I have had the opportunity to go to places that I would never have gone, and most likely will never return to (You Only Omaha Once: YOOO). Phi Delta Chi has pushed me to better myself, my profession, and the world as a whole. If you are a brother I hope that it has inspired you in that same way, if you are not then I hope that you can take some inspiration from the changes that I have made. It hasn’t always been easy, but adversity builds character, and I am living proof that having character can make up for other shortcomings. After years of having PDC be my only outlet I have found that I really enjoy other things. Recently I have started pursuing some of my passions, meeting new people, and seeking out a full life. While it may not be my sole focus, it is a huge part of my life and I look forward to having to awkwardly explain to my boss that the day after my 30th birthday I need to fly out to Albuquerque in AUGUST to go to another grand council. I guess that is part of the burden of being leaders in pharmacy, brothers for life.