by Ross Walters
Current National Vice President
University of Louisiana, ‘02
My journey in Phi Kappa Theta started at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the Fall of 1997. During that fateful September I was introduced to several active members of the fraternity, and ultimately made the decision to join our esteemed brotherhood shortly thereafter.
Despite only knowing two members at the time, I was compelled to join from the beginning and have never looked back.
I went on to serve in a variety of collegiate positions within Louisiana Omicron, including two years on the Executive Council, and two years on the University’s Interfraternity Council.
Through my involvement in Greek Affairs I was provided the opportunity to travel to various National Conventions, where I have discovered my long-term passion for serving Phi Kappa Theta. Now, as a current member of the Board of Trustees, I have met countless Alumni members, as well as many Collegiate members over the years. These introductions have become the highlight of my travels and have led to long lasting friendships that will certainly span the test of time.
The last two years I have ended up sitting next to members of our chapter from Washington State University, and both years these guys have extended an invitation to me to visit their campus in Pullman, Washington.
As it turns out, I recently found myself in Seattle serving as a judge for the Miss Washington USA pageant (long story…) and I thought it was a great opportunity to get to Pullman for a visit. So after confirming my visit with chapter leaders, I bought my Alaska Airlines round trip ticket from Seattle to Pullman for a quick overnight stay.
I knew it would be an interesting experience upon arriving at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport and coming face to face with the very small aircraft that would be serving as my transportation to Pullman. After a 45 minute flight across the state of Washington (and great views of Mount Rainier), I arrived safely at my hotel (The Residence Inn, a very nice place to stay in Pullman if any of you are interested). A quick Uber ride and I was at the Phi Kappa Theta house on WSU campus.
I have heard how impressive this house was over the years, and I was not let down. Upon walking in I was greeted by a dozen or so current collegiate Brothers having lunch. I had a few minutes to sit and talk with them before Brother Tanner Moyer (WSU, ‘19) met up with me and brought me to a hot lunch spot in Pullman, The Coug. Joining us was Monique Nianekeo, a member of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority at WSU. Over our lunch the three of us discussed various issues which were having an impact on Greek life in general. Monique was also able to provide valuable insight from a sorority perspective, which I truly appreciated.
After lunch we headed back to the house for the weekly chapter meeting. I got a quick tour of the house from President Hogan Leffel (WSU. ‘20) before the meeting started on time.
I was given a very warm introduction to the membership before giving a report on current National Fraternity business. Sitting through the rest of the meeting I was struck with the similarities of issues facing this chapter and other chapters around the country.
While personalities, size of individual chapters, financial statues, etc… may all be quite different, it is apparent that we all share common attributes which bond us over geographical distances. I admit, this made me smile to myself knowing that the ideals of the Fraternity are what keep us together.
After the meeting, I went with Hogan and Tanner back to The Coug where we met up with former chapter president and current alumni member Kyle O’Malley (WSU, ‘17). We had a great conversation, discussing Fraternity topics well into the evening.
I probably stayed too late as my return flight to Seattle was at 4:00 a.m. the following morning.
On my very early return flight I was able to reflect on my 18 hours in Pullman and realized how pleased I was with my decision to make the trek to visit our Brothers at Washington State University.
If ever you have the opportunity to visit a city, town, or region where we have a chapter of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity, I challenge you to take the first step in trying to coordinate a visit. It’s these bonds and friendships that I have made over the last 21 years that have kept me coming back for more, and will hopefully keep me involved in this fraternity for many years to come.
Ross Walters earned degrees in business management, biology, funeral service and embalming from the University of Louisiana and Texas Commonwealth Institute. Ross currently works in his family’s businesses, Walters Funeral Home and Greenlawn Memorial Gardens cemetery. He also owns a production company called XLR8 Productions. Ross volunteers for the following organizations: Louisiana Metropolitan Expressway Commission (board member), Cite’ des Arts (board member), University of Louisiana Alumni Association, Louisiana Funeral Directors Association. Ross was selected as the 2000 Greek Man of the Year for the University of Louisiana, and also was an Outstanding Graduate at Commonwealth Institute.