Opinion: At Phi Beta Sigma we are mentors, friends, critics, listeners for life – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Thomas is a senior at San Diego State University, majoring in business administration. He lives in San Diego.

I am a fourth-year graduating senior at San Diego State University studying to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration. Throughout my time at SDSU, I have had the opportunity to join many student-led organizations and brainstorm with the greatest minds on campus. Being a business major, I realized early on the importance of networking and the sense of urgency that I needed to have throughout my college career. No other organization has echoed this sentiment more than Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

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Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was founded on Jan. 9, 1914, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was founded by three courageous men, A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse and Charles I. Brown. They believed that brotherhood, scholarship and service were the three main pillars that men of business should align themselves with. They believed in being a part of the community rather than apart from the community. Hence, the moniker, “The People’s Frat” was born.

Dropping into a campus with over 30,000 students was overwhelming at first, but I was lucky to find a place I could call home. I was a Links’ Achiever in 2018 during my senior year of high school, so I had the opportunity to meet the previous class of achievers that stayed local. This was my first introduction to a few of the members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. I was surprised to find out that many San Diego Sigmas were previous Achievers like Kevin Archangel, Christian Onwuka and Julian Buchanan. They each had a hand in helping prepare our step routine for the annual MLK parade step show.

When I stepped on campus my first semester, a senior was the first person to ask if I needed help moving into my dorm. This took me aback because I wouldn’t have expected an older student to care about what I had going on in my freshman world. As the semester carried on, different members of the chapter would reach out to me to make sure that I had everything that I required and that I was comfortable. It did not matter to them that I was not a member of their organization. They saw me as one of their little brothers.

Through their mentorship, I had the chance to witness the true meaning of brotherhood, scholarship and service. I saw how the chapter was viewed by the campus community, and how much they gave back to not only SDSU but to the greater San Diego area. All I’ve known is community service, growing up with a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. as a mother. But as a freshman, I saw the events that the Sigmas hosted like PB&J for the Homeless, Thanksgiving Turkey Drive and Gospel Night and a partnership with March of Dimes, and found that a “fraternity” could be much more than just partying. These men believed in everything that the founders stood for, and were passionate about their organization, and I could see the genuineness of their bond.

Joining as a freshman was no easy task, but I got to learn a lot about myself and what it meant to be a man of Sigma. I have had the pleasure of serving my chapter as the 2019-2020 treasurer and as the chapter president for the 2020-2021 school year. Holding office within my organization has allowed me a stage to develop my interpersonal, technical and leadership skills in many ways. By hosting events, I have developed my public speaking. By outsourcing venues for events, I have learned how to deal with contracts. By being around other like-minded men, I have learned humility.

I have also had the opportunity to attend our international conclave and witness my chapter winning the fraternity-wide step show for two years in a row. While Sigmas are known for their stepping and strolling, stepping is ingrained in the roots of all the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Originally derived from South African gumboot dancing, stepping has grown into a staple of our organizations’ ways of expressing our African origins. One of the best aspects of being a part of a National Pan-Hellenic Council organization is the blending of cultures and showmanship that is born from that adaptation. I have had the opportunity to perform for events like the yard show, stroll-off and dance marathon. Stepping and strolling to me is where the cultural aspects of our organizations meet the brotherhood and sisterhood aspects of them as well.

Being a brother to me means wearing the many hats that come with being a mentor, friend, critic and listener — and the many other words that describe lifelong relationships. When I say lifelong, I mean LIFELONG.