Are Conferences Really Worth the Cost?
by Nicholas Reid
University of Iowa, ‘21
Usually people see conferences as a waste of a weekend. Time spent away from their normal, fun weekends. In all honesty, who wants to sit in a meeting all weekend?
Many members of a fraternity would rather stay home, spend the weekend with their friends and have a good time. What people don’t understand is actually how enjoyable Phi Kappa Theta conferences are.
By having the opportunity to attend our weekend meetings, whether regional or National, I have learned more about myself and have been able to change my life for the better.
The first time I went to a Phi Kappa Theta conference was last August in Orlando. I had recently finished my freshman year, was working full time, taking summer classes and having to finish writing our petition to charter.
My first thought was, “I am the only one who can go to this meeting and how in the world am I going to find the time and money?” The answer of time was helped by my boss, who allowed me to take two days off (when I really wasn’t suppose to have any days off) to go to Orlando. The money aspect was funded by our alumni, who I am so thankful to this day that they did. It seemed as if there was a reason, an outside force that wanted me to go to Orlando, and I am so grateful I got the opportunity.
Travel became a hassle to arrive at Orlando (I had a total of 7 hours of delay), so I unfortunately missed the opening on Friday. The next day, I entered the room with no idea of who anyone was, as I was the only representative from the University of Iowa there (which is the best school in Iowa, but that’s another article).
The first man I met at breakfast was an alumni named Ross Walters (University of Louisiana, ‘02). As he offered me the top-secret, highly classified, shall not be named handshake of Phi Kappa Theta, he did not realize that I was from Iowa and had not yet been initiated.
As I did not know the handshake, he reached back in shock as if he had just touched a leper and started questioning if I was a Phi Kap. I explained that I was from Iowa and we were currently rechartering, and he laughed and joked with me the rest of the weekend.
Over the weekend, I made connections that have carried on throughout my life since. I met BRUCEEEE, legally known as Bryce Frey (Iowa State University, ‘20), the Iowa State representative. We have gone on to continue communicating and planning Iowa vs. Iowa State events.
Another important person I met, who I recently saw again at the Naperville BBLA, was Dr. Michael Brown. If you have not met Dr. Brown, I recommend that you make every effort to. Not only is he the only man I know that puts peanut butter on cheez-its, but he is extremely intelligent and a great brain to pick.
He is also one of the most caring people you will ever meet and always ready to have a conversation. I also was able to meet all the National Staff and several Alumni who I had never met in person, including Johnny Hohenstein, Robert Riggs, Doug Dilling, Adrian Gonzalez, Sarah Everhart and so many more.
The most impactful part of the trip were the meetings, but the most memorable part were the nights. Brothers from all over the country would gather at the pool or in the lounge, telling stories of their own chapters and talking about solving theirs and others chapters problems.
Of course, at the same time joking with each other and becoming close friends. I can honestly attest to that being one of the best weekends of my life, and I am still in contact with many people who I met at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL.
The reason that I brought up Orlando was that recently my brother, Isaac Kracht from the University of Iowa, and I attended the Naperville BBLA.
I’m sure when I told him to go with me he thought the same thing as me: “oh great a weekend away from Iowa city, why in the world would I want to leave here for Naperville?” But being the kind guy he is, he accepted to come with.
I knew from talking to Johnny Hohenstein, that Dr. Brown was going to be there, and Isaac was going to love talking to him.
The weekend went very much the same way as Orlando, a great experience with a large impact on my life and good times with other chapters. Talking throughout and after the weekend with Isaac, I could see it had a resounding impact on him too.
We talked about deeper things that we had never talked about before, and he seemed energized and excited to start a new approach to life.
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend making a trip to a regional or national conference. If your chapter can, implement it into dues so that everyone can go! Or, you could plan to have Dr. Brown come for a weekend and speak to your chapter.
Regarding my clickbait story title? Phi Kap conferences are indeed worth it. Whether you desiring to become a better version of yourself, or interested in meeting other brothers from around the country, I promise it will have a lasting impact on your life.
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Brother Reid is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering with a focus in Business Management. He is the current Vice President of Fraternal, Recharter Head and Social Media Chair for Phi Kappa Theta Iowa Delta. Nicholas grew up in Peoria, Illinois, attending St. Vincent de Paul grade school and Peoria Notre Dame High School. He was involved and active in many things, including scholastic bowl, numerous sports with his primary being soccer, key club and French Club. Nic also received the Presidental Award, National Honors Society, Old Gold Scholarship and an Illinois State Scholar. He is the first person of his family to move out for college, attend a big 10 school and join Greek life. Knowing nothing of what Greek life is about graduating, Nic has since taken a strong passion towards Phi Kappa Theta and bettering himself, along with his brothers. Nic is also involved in Dance Marathon and Intramural Sports, along with numerous service projects through the Fraternity. In his freetime, he loves to workout, play sports, hunt, fish, play video games and hang out with friends.