Going into the fall of 2015 I was so excited to join the University of Arkansas family and was looking forward to furthering my education along with gaining a new group of friends. I had a lot of friends from high school join fraternities at the U of A and was planning on joining one of theirs. But when I started rush that fall I was introduced to Sigma Phi Epsilon and found members who took me under their wing and showed me that SigEp was a home away from home. Guys like Konrad Woelfer, Matthew Sheppard, Joey Nemesi, and Matthew Kantor began to take time to mentor me through rush and pushed me to become an Arkansas Alpha SigEp.
One of the most amazing things I found in SigEp was an opportunity to lead from the very beginning. After my first semester, I was chosen to become a Sigma Coordinator for the Spring 2016 class and this was my first taste of the impact I could have on a group of peers. Unlike most of the other fraternities on campus, SigEp was about building men up and allowing each individual to become their own person in the chapter, not break them down and force them to fit a mold of xyz fraternity. This allows members to truly make their individual mark on our chapter. I loved this motto and did my best to make every single new member take advantage and believe in this.
After this I was chosen to become a rush chair over the Dallas area and begin organizing events for summer recruitment. I found that this position was essential to growing the chapter and ensure that we were getting the right new members for years to come. As the fall semester began, I was chosen again by the chapter to become a Sigma Coordinator. This opportunity allowed me to continue to develop the members I had helped rush over the summer. I enjoyed getting to share my experiences with the new class and allowing them to make their own impact on our fraternity.
In November of 2016 we were scheduled to hold our executive board elections and I was approached by my peers to run for Chapter President. I was very nervous in the beginning because I had no idea if I had the ability or experience to run one of the largest SigEp chapters in the country. To my surprise, I won and began to embark on the toughest experience of my life. I was fortunate enough to have been elected to an executive board that was older and wiser then myself. I can remember our first executive board meeting where I was constantly looking at these older members for their approval. Zach Gorman looked at me and said, “Cade, you were elected to this position for a reason. You don’t have to get our approval about everything you say.” This was such a great moment for me because it made me realize that these older members believed in my abilities even though I was so inexperienced. It gave me the confidence to become the best Chapter President I could be. Over the course of that year, I had some major goals for our organization that I knew wouldn’t be easy fixes and could possibly cause me to lose respect of my peers. One of the goals I had was to become more diverse in the members we had. From my upbringing, I found that the best organizations had members from many different backgrounds and could bring different ideas to the table. I wanted to become a fraternity with a bigger impact on campus from Greek Life to ASG. I wanted the chapter to become more responsible for what goes on in our house to interactions with other organizations. This was a massive challenge but we were able to accomplish a lot in just one year. We became the largest SigEp chapter in the country, improve our membership retention, continued to excel in grades, and make a bigger impact on the U of A community.
I then was faced with the decision of running for IFC president or run for chapter president again. When I was first approached with the opportunity of running for IFC president I talked to Corey Thorpe, another member on the executive board, and he shared that I should do what my heart told me to do. I was persuaded by many outside people about the decision I should make which made me question what the right thing to do was. I finally made the decision to run for Chapter President once more. I found that I could make more of an impact on the men I get to call brothers than to a broader group of men who may not share the same values. I found that the second term as chapter president was even more rewarding because I was now in a position to help the younger members of the executive board become the best they could be at their perspective positions. Getting to see the improvements, improvisation, and resilience of this group of men made me believe that any executive board in the future could be successful because of the process our new members go through. We have the ability to build leaders from within and it has shown with the new group of leaders our chapter continues to put out.
Through my years of a SigEp, I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life. This chapter has given me so much and hopefully I have been able to give a little bit back to it. Whenever I begin to think of great Arkansas SigEp’s I begin to think of men like Tom Mickel, John Stanley and Phil Mcknight. All three of these men have taken extra time out of their lives to better me. They’ve shown that the fraternities values of Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love don’t stop at graduation but are just the beginning steps to a lifetime commitment. I can’t begin to thank every member who has made an impact on me over the last four years of my college career. SigEp is in a great place because of the members that have become before me and will continue to excel far into the future because of the great men being built at the SigEp house.