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A Piecemealed Family

My mother told my brother that friends will come and go, but family will always be there.
We knew she was wrong.

My parents served in the navy, thus we played the plinko board of resettling every couple years before rooting ourselves in coastal Carolina. Our New York family would call often and when it counted, such as birthdays, holidays, weekends, etc. They were my brother’s and my connection to something beyond ourselves, a family mythology that told the story of where we came from Before. Growing up in The City, The Latin music, the community, the languages, the food all seemed implausible, from another place and time that we couldn’t truly fathom. As we were raised in North Carolina, we grew distant from the Family. Not so much black sheep, but rather what was to be the expected product of Hispanics growing up in a predominantly white Southern society. The mythologies became just stories. The connections weakened.

Around puberty, Marco and I realized that my mother’s saying was just another story. My uncles would berate me for looking gay because I spiked my hair (I thought it was cool). I would be instructed never to bring home any woman who did not fit their racial, religious, ethnic, or nationality requirements for fear of having my legs broken. And if I happened to be gay… well forget about those threats. Ties to our xenophobic immigrant family and a Hispanic culture began to fade in the South, which was another point of ‘otherness’. Marco and I realized that it was actually our friends who would be there for us, to understand - or try to-, to comfort without judgment, and pick us up when we fell. We translated this realization to our mother differently, putting as at odds with her expectations.

As with most freshman, attending college was as much an academic pursuit as it was a true test of resolve and independence. Marco became independent much earlier than me, experiencing life’s darker side alone, and paying for it many years. I have always been better at translating my thoughts into words that my mother and family could understand. This led both of us to feel that I was the Golden Child and he was the Mistake. However, attending college tested my independence years after a much younger Marco tested his.

It was on move in day that I met my best friend. There was a sudden *click*. A few months later, I met a new ‘family’, or rather what I envisioned a family to be. It was in Pi Lambda Phi that I pivoted towards who I wanted to become as an adult. For me, the creed of inclusion was a very different foundation for a social structure to be built upon than the one I had experienced in my family’s lore. For me, it was amazing to stumble into (literally) a family that asked that you view the world through the lens of equality as a right for all. Yes, while our country was built on such a premise, no one can argue that institutional and social prejudice don’t exist in most every facet of American life. Every day we see people make speak, act, and react based on their disposition towards another person’s gender, sex, skin color, religion, affiliations, etc. Inequalities in our community became visible and fueled our philanthropy. By doing so, we were able to have open discussions with characters we never may have encountered, drank with, or challenged otherwise. And no, we didn’t always get along. A family doesn’t always see eye to eye and factions form, but we had something critical in common that we put central to our sense of selves. From this a fraternity was built.

Who I was in college was a rambunctious kid. Hell, who I was last month was a rambunctious kid. The entire way, it has always been my family who was there for me. Family not by blood, but by core values. The family built upon trust and open discussion; challenging each other with ideologies in order to reach our potential. The family of rotating membership as careers and passions grow into amorphous paths taking us around the world.

Marco and I speak to each other at birthdays and at funerals. Maybe someday our lives will converge and an ‘A-ha’ moment will be had. Maybe someday we will look at each other and realized we were truly family. Life hasn’t worked out that way for us yet. For now, we rely on the families we’ve piecemealed together.


Road To Redemption

The past month for the us down here at the undergraduate chapter was one for the books, that is to say the least. At this point last year, I was a senior in high school finally convinced on my college decision, and I never imagined I would find myself rushing Franklin Street twice in a single month. From spring breaking together, to throwing the ultimate courtyard parties, to watching the boys bring home the natty over in Phoenix, being a part of this environment so early almost makes me mournful because now I have to question have I reached my collegiate peak. 

Overall we had two separate groups go on spring break together over the break. A group of guys went to Cancun, Mexico and another road tripped down to Miami, Florida. As one of the guys that traveled down to Miami, I can speak first hand for our group by saying we had the time of our lives. After arriving at chapter the following Monday and hearing stories from the Cancun trip, they also lived up to the hype many waves away.

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Pi Lams, Pi Lams Everywhere

I graduated Spring of 2015 with a one-way ticket to California. An incredible job with eBay beckoned to me from San Jose, and I was determined to drive my first love, a red 2004 Toyota Corolla, through the heartland over to it. By the time I left my childhood home in New Jersey I had 17 days to burn as I weaved my way from sea to shining sea.

            During my time as an undergrad in the Pi Lam I house I was known as the spreadsheet master (or nerd depending on who you asked). I meticulously designed sheets to help brothers sign up for volunteer shifts, keep track of brotherhood points, and even for fun one weekend I put together a flexible income calculator that could dynamically calculate federal and state taxes for all 50 states plus D.C. My borderline obsessions with rows and columns overtook my road trip, and I began filling in points of interest I would stop in along the way.

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The First 30 Days

Fratres,

The past 30 days brought much joy and little worry to the Omega Beta chapter. This month, we gave out bids to the prospective Alpha Rho pledge class, endured a minor water crisis, took our annual composite, and eliminated risks throughout the rush process.

The Spring rush process started two weeks into January, and with that process many of our newly elected chairs were expected to meet high expectations. All of our members met all our expectations which led to a very successful spring rush. The rush events we hosted this semester included a basketball game watch party, a basketball tournament, a night of endless fun at SkyZone (a trampoline jump park), a dinner at Sakura (a Japanese hibachi grill), and a memorable evening filled with brotherhood stories at our Smoker Night. A big thanks goes to the Prolocutor Nicho Stevens (ΑΞ), and rush chairs Nyatefe Mortoo (ΑΟ), Ryan Williams (ΑΠ), and Tanner Ebeling (ΑΠ). Although they were not the only ones involved in the rush process, and not the only ones deserving of a thank you, the responsibility ultimately fell on them. They rose to the occasion and their efforts showed during the extremely successful rush week.

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Our Fall 2016 Semester

Fratres,

The previous semester was a very productive one for the undergraduate brothers of the Omega Beta chapter at Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, whether it be through growing fraternally while rooting for the football team as we kicked the game winning field goal to upset Florida State in Florida, or academically when staying up until 3 A.M. studying for midterms that we had to take hours later.

Last semester the Omega Beta chapter initiated the Alpha Pi fall pledge class of 18 brothers, the largest class since the Alpha class in 1997.  With the induction of such a large pledge class, the fraternity is returning to numbers that will make it one of the best on campus once again. The Newly Initiated Brothers are listed below:

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Bear With Me Here...

I’ve never written a blog post before. Films and television portrayed diaries as a normal part of a youth’s development, an outlet to help process the events happening in the most tumultuous changes in one’s pubescent life. Those actors could look back on their feelings or previous actions and grin nostalgically at their immaturity years later. That was something I couldn’t do. And, as an adult, I still have difficulty expressing myself in writing. Twenty-six characters with limitless potential to express my understanding of what the human condition is. Or am I supposed to write a fluff piece on something of little substance? How does one approach writing, and what’s the point? If it’s to share opinions, then diaries were pointless. Writing is an expression of ourselves and by taking up poetry years ago, I’ve tried to therapeutically process who I am in certain external contexts. The problem I find lies in that the deeper I dig, the more contradictions I find. My transcribed musings reflect that.

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A Letter from the President

Fratres,
 
In the last two years, our very first Alumni Association Board, led by Roberto Rupcich, made incredible strides towards our collective dream of building a stronger community of Pi Lam UNC Alumni.
 
Never before have we had such a large active group of alumni, truly dedicated to our “Not four years, but a lifetime” mantra. For that, I would like to sincerely thank Roberto Rupcich, Alton Wright, Josh Kahn, and many others (too many to name), who served as trusted advisors to take us to where we are today.
 
Of course, our effort is not complete – not even close. With our new Alumni Association Board, we seek to continue this momentum and strive to achieve so much more.
 
A few of our 2017 goals are as follows:
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Little Fraternity Court's Annual Oyster Roast - Spring of 2015

I am happy to report that our annual Little Fraternity Court Oyster Roast Cookout, held last Tuesday, April 14th, was a large success. In spite of the rain, we were able to sell nearly 800 tickets to the event, raise over $15,000, to which the proceeds will be sent to Relay for Life, a non-profit, charitable organization benefiting cancer research. For those who don’t know, the annual Oyster Roast brings together the brothers of Pi Lam, Sig Ep, Zete, and Kappa Sig to host an evening of oysters, other wonderful food, and music to benefit a local charity. Luckily the musical performance this year included appearances from current Pi Lambda Phi brothers, Alec Loeb and Noddy Kahn. The event was a great success and would not have been possible without the efforts of Brandon Haake our Philanthropy chairman, as well as our outstanding brotherhood. 

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John Coffey's Fond Memories of Michael Piller

I recently received the following story from John Coffey and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy!

I was a senior, Archon and Pledge Master the year Mike Piller pledged.  But even during the short time we had together, it was clear that he would go on to do great things.  When he was a pledge, his claim to fame was that his mother had written a song in the 50's called “Mr. Football” (obviously creativity runs in the family.) Michael came to my wedding in Gastonia and I remember catching up with him when my wife and I returned to 107 Fraternity Court for football weekends.  Later on during an internship, he worked with my wife in the news department at one of the Charlotte TV stations.  While there, she taught him how to drive a straight-drive, as he had just purchased a used Jaguar XKE (a really hot car in the late 60’s) that he was unable to drive. Unfortunately as so often happens, we get busy with families, careers and other obligations and begin to lose contact with our brothers who were so much a part of our Carolina experience.  How exciting it was to be watching TV in the 90’s and see Michael on the screen excitedly talking about a new series he and others were creating. Always the science-fiction buff, I had watched  “The Next Generation” for years but never really looked at the credits and noted his name.  My daughter and I watched “Voyager” regularly.  I was truly saddened by his premature death in 2005.  How neat that his son is continuing the legacy with the ABC series "Greek" and that Michael “lives on” in the new house.

John Coffey
Class of '67

Welcome to Our Blog!

This is our community blog, where we encourage alumni to share stories (about brotherhood, philanthropy, success, or a number of other topics) with the Pi Lam network. 

We are still working out the kinks on how exactly this works, but you should soon be able to add your very own blog post here!

Be sure to check back soon!

Have a story to tell? Send it to me at jeremydrawas@pilamunc.com or try to post it your self!

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