by Kyle Bueno
Bridgwater State University, ‘18
Brotherhood (n): An association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion, or trade.
Phi Kappa Theta – Love, Brotherhood, God.
Those were the three words that united myself and my brothers together to form this brotherhood. As I write this on the 5:57pm commuter train out of South Station, Boston, MA, and heading to Middleborough/Lakeville, I begin to reflect on the good, the bad, and ugly times from my chapter. I am fortunate enough to have ended my collegiate experience on a good note and kept the faith for better days ahead.
The experiences I am about to write to you all have helped shaped me into the man I am today. It has made me realize I need these traits in order to not only be a good brother, but a gentleman. Honesty (even if it may sting), Integrity, Loyalty, Respect, and Compassion.
I begin the journey of my Greek Life experience as a second semester freshman. At first, I was hesitant about seeing what other fraternities had to even offer as I was thinking about how the movie Animal House depicted all Greek members as 24/7 partiers. That was not the college experience I wanted to have. But, nevertheless, my best friend from high school Jacob Bolarinho (past sage of Sigma Pi), encouraged me to join him and keep an open mind. So, I did, and I am beyond grateful to take that giant step out of my comfort zone.
Now, not to say the other organizations weren’t welcoming, because I have some amazing friends from other fraternities, but I felt more included in Phi Kappa Theta because the men whom recruited me were involved in various facets of campus; from Student Government Association, to Residence Life and Housing, to even working on campus. I wanted to be involved as much as possible. To this day, I do not regret my decision to join this amazing organization.
At my first chapter, I was feeling mixed emotions. I was so excited for the unknown, but nervous as hell, praying I wouldn’t get hazed or see anything like Animal House. I let those fears subside and looked for ways as a new member to get involved. I knew I always had an interest in service, so I ran for Community Service Chair and won the position. In hindsight, I couldn’t even imagine seeing that position springboard me into serving as Vice President of Social Development and later on as President.
Serving as Community Service Chair for the chapter had in no way prepared me for what was to come as Vice President of Social Development. It is still known as one of the biggest positions in the chapter as it oversees Philanthropy, Social, Community Service, Public Relations, and Risk Management. Yes, Risk Management. When I started, I had no idea how to talk to brothers who would do things that broke FIPG rules. One of the biggest areas needing improvement was social media.
Our social media was so horrendous that it became a mini part of a larger conversation we had as a chapter at Fireside. Which, as a second year, I absolutely regretted. Up till Junior year, our Fireside events would always be viewed as shouting matches between brothers. It would bring our morale way down and I mean, waaaay down. I realized a central part of what was missing was brothers understanding each other. We needed to speak with each other as brothers, not as Presidents or Vice Presidents, just brothers. It was at this point I realized Phi Kap wasn’t what was told to me at recruitment, but I wanted to do something about changing it.
I would be lying to you if I only wrote about all the good times I had as President of this organization. There were really tough moments I, and brothers on the E-board serving alongside me, had to experience. I also was working as a Resident Assistant, part-time at the information desk and serving as Student Trustee. It was a lot on my plate, making me realize the importance of self-care (which I’ll explain later). But I am proud of the work our chapter made in making it better than in years past.
We were able to fill our calendar with an abundance of events from brotherhood, to philanthropy, and socials. We even made Fireside enjoyable. However, I came to a point during my tenure when I wanted to just give up. It was during the summer before entering my senior year where we were going to hold our annual Quo Vadis retreat. During that planned day, a torrential downpour hit our campsite and I decided to cancel the event altogether. The next day, however, turned out to be amazing outside; sunny and hot. I was so disappointed with myself because I felt I let the chapter down.
So, I did not realize how my careless attitude brought negative energy towards the chapter. Morale was low, brothers were forming clichés, rumors were even spreading. In order to help tackle this, with the help of Executive Vice President, Robert Riggs, CAE (RPI, ’02), we decided to create an in chapter brotherhood event. We set up chairs in a circle and talked to each other about our feelings, aspirations in life, etc.
It was at this moment I felt I needed to get something off my chest and explain what was on my mind. I felt comfortable enough to come out to the chapter. It was the first time I ever spoke about it to anyone. It was because of this constant weight, and the other positions I had on campus, I did not have time to reflect on my own life. It was so nice to just take it off my chest and what was going on in my mind.
I learned a big part of leading is being honest with myself, to others around me, and having integrity. It was because of this, I, alongside the E-board, noticed a change and carried through strong towards the end of the semester.
Some people may ask themselves, “is there anything I would have done differently in college”? For me, the answer is no. It was because of all these experiences during my 4 years at Bridgewater State University, I am the person I am today. I realized I am a better friend, person, and brother because of the experiences I have dealt with and, in return, volunteer my time back as a Performance Coach for chapters in the Northeast.
I realized how important it is to not stretch yourself too thin and to stay humble. For those reading, I hope you too can love yourself as much as I can, are loyal to your brothers, friends, and family, and lead as REAL gentlemen should, with honesty and integrity. TBIS.
Main Image: Kyle Bueno during a service project to Cambodia. Spring 2018.