By Jacob Ternes, Leadership Consultant
Recently, a good friend and chapter brother approached me and asked if I would write down a few of my experiences/thoughts about Phi Delta Theta being a Fraternity for life. My first thought was that I am way too young to be the person to ask about this as the rest of the brothers on his list were older and have much greater experience within Phi Delta Theta. I didn’t know what I could possibly contribute that was going to be of any real value. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that even though my lifetime with the Fraternity has just begun, I have had the opportunity to see and work with people who have truly made this a lifetime experience. My life has been shaped differently because of the Fraternity. I am employed in a job that would not have been possible prior to joining Phi Delta Theta and it has led to opportunities and experiences that I would never have been able to have. I work as a Leadership Consultant and it has allowed me to rub elbows with individuals who are truly committed to Phi Delta Theta.
This job has allowed me to meet current and former staff members, chapter advisers, Province Presidents, and General Council members, many of whom have devoted a full life to the Fraternity. I have had a chance to interact with Bob Miller, who relocated to Oxford in 1951 to work as a traveling secretary and has been here ever since. He currently volunteers as the Fraternity’s historian and has some of the best stories and insight that I have ever heard. For those of you that are not familiar with Bob, I encourage you to check out his I Believe in Phi Delta Theta video clips and read Miller’s Meanderings on the Phi Delta Theta Blog. They provide rich stories, lessons, and historical facts. I have been lucky enough to attend two General Conventions (so far!) and there I was able to meet volunteers who have been actively involved in Phi Delta Theta ever since their initiation dates. Some of these men served in our highest office, President of the General Council, and continue to remain actively involved after their term. Attending the staff reunion at this year’s Convention allowed me to hear some of the great stories that some of these men have.
I have also been able to see what Phi Delta Theta is providing to our alumni members from the inside. This year I was able to serve on the alumni committee within the General Headquarters Staff and help develop resources specifically for alumni. I have also been able to see the True Blue Society grow, and I really believe that the possibilities for that program are limitless. True Blue is helping to provide additional services to individual alumni members while growing and developing alumni clubs. True Blue is providing the resources necessary to facilitate the idea of a fraternity for life. I am proud to have joined the ranks of its membership.
For me, I view the position of Leadership Consultant as the beginning of a long relationship with Phi Delta Theta. I would like to be a member of a Chapter Advisory Board, Province President, maybe even on the General Council one day. I have a goal to attend every General Convention and would love to serve as a faculty member for our educational conferences. Everything that I have learned during the past year of this job shows me that there is no limit to what you can accomplish in Phi Delta Theta. This truly is a Fraternity for Life and you can become involved in so many different ways. You can be a member of a Chapter Advisory Board, a local House Corporation, facilitate educational conferences, or simply be a member of a local alumni club and spend time with Phi Delt’s in your area. Whatever interests you within the Fraternity, you can find something.
One of the founding principles of Phi Delta Theta is friendship. As the years pass and I have moved away from people that I once knew and spent so much time with, I am finding that the people that I reach out to and remain in contact with are the friends that I have made through the Fraternity. I had some really great friends in high school and in college outside of the chapter, but when I head home for the weekend, I call my chapter brothers and visit the PDT house. I generally don’t call other friends or go visit the Union to see who might be around. I know where I can find my friends. The people that I call during my long road trips are not my high school friends; they are chapter brothers or my consultant brothers. I have never had trouble making friends, but the Fraternity has allowed me to make true friendships that will last a lifetime.
I’ll finish this post with a quote that I came across recently in one of our presentations. It states “If you get everything out of Phi Delta Theta that you can get out of Phi Delta Theta, you will never get out of Phi Delta Theta”. I completely agree with this statement. The more you get into the Fraternity, the more you find out what it has to offer and the more you want to be a part of it all. There is a lifetime of opportunity available to each and every one of us.