Post by Tom Seto, Purdue ’05
A fraternity is more than a four-year experience; it is a life-long experience. But, what they do not tell you is how much of an impact four years can make on you as a leader. There is so much to be learned outside the classroom that facilitates the development of a well-rounded individual and the experiences I have gained outside the classroom are unparalleled to anything my professors lectured about when I was at Purdue. When I leave the confines of the classroom, I enter the laboratory of life. Where else can a newfangled adult oversee an over-hundred man organization, coordinate a six-figure budget, or learn how to work in teams with eclectic personalities and motivate large groups towards one common goal? A fraternity is one of the few student organizations on campus that allows a young man to develop life skills that are essential for success in the real world. This is an organization where you live with other members and not just see them for an hour a week. You are forced to work through differences and confront conflicts. Because of my undergraduate experience, there is nothing I cannot conquer in the real world.
Delta Sigma Phi afforded me opportunities to develop my leadership skills and translate them into other student organizations, and ultimately my career. During the summer before my junior year, I attended a national session of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute. It was a crucible that changed my life, and it convinced me to become personally invested in the fraternal values movement. I went back to my campus and decided more students needed to experience the power of self-actualization through this program. In order to adapt this national program onto a campus for the first time, I spent an entire year raising $35,000, recruiting fourteen facilitators from around the country, and marketing and recruiting eighty participants on campus. I even spent my entire 21st birthday interning for the program. This past year I was fortunate to serve as a facilitator for UIFI: Purdue, and it was a surreal moment to see everything come full circle; from the time I attended my own national session, to interning the very first campus-based session, to having the honor and privilege to return as a facilitator.
To me, leadership is not what you do in the present moment. Rather it is the legacy you leave and the impact your behavior and actions continue to make once you leave. I define success not by how much money I can and will make, but by the successes of those I influence. I enjoy interacting with aspiring leaders, guiding them through their leadership journey, and challenging them to be the best person they can be. John Wooden said, “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” More than just your actions, leadership in an intrinsic journey that you must conquer on your own and become the best man, brother, and leader you are capable of.