Over the last few years, I have grown and developed into the man I am today. This is in large part due to my experiences and the people with Phi Delta Theta.
I pledged myself to Phi Delta Theta in the Fall of 2009 with nine guys who I did not know until the process started. These guys are some of my closest and most genuine friends today. Coming to Robert Morris in 2009, I knew one person, so it was imperative that I meet new people and get involved on campus. Playing baseball proved to be the answer that I was looking for in both respects. I was introduced to the Phi Delts via people on the baseball team telling me about an event that they were putting on that weekend and saying that I should come visit. The rest is history. I went to the event and have not been able to leave yet.
As a first generation college student, I had no idea what college life would be about or what I would do when I was at school. I was away from home and the comfort of my parents for the first time in my life, and I had absolute no clue what would come next.
My parents did the best they could for me, and I would not be who I am if it were not for them. When I first told them that I would be looking into joining a fraternity, they had no idea what it or the people they would soon meet was about. After explaining to them that it was not a FRAT, rather a fraternity, and it was more than what they saw in movies, they knew it was something that could be a great thing for me to experience while in college.
We were initiated in 2009 on my birthday, December 5th. Being initiated on my birthday is one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had, and it keeps me from not forgetting such an important date.
Over the last few years my parents have grown to embrace me being a part of such an amazing organization. They actively come to our events and formals, sharing embarrassing stories of me growing up and enjoying the people that I call my friends.
This past year was a roller coaster of a year. I experienced happiness, sadness, numbness and every feeling on the spectrum. One of my role models and a close friend of mine in the chapter, Mike Haines, was tragically shot and killed in an armored truck heist. Experiencing that would eventually prepare me for what was to come. We, as brothers, banded together to remain strong and kept on going as we honored a guy whom we all knew and loved.
Over the summer, after returning from Convention, my parents and I learned that my dad had the C word – Cancer. In no way, shape, or form is cancer a good thing, especially when it is a close family member, let alone your dad. Seeing my dad go through the pain and anguish that he did while battling cancer and the procedures that were done will always stick with me. As the only child, I put it on my shoulders to be the strong one in the family and be there for both of my parents as we went along on this new journey.
Being the family’s rock is no small task for a 21 year old college student with no clue about what his future holds. If I’ve learned anything as a Phi Delt, it’s the little things that add up and somebody’s gotta do it. Also, in my corner were 120 people who had my back and were there for me whenever I needed something. I was actually with an alumnus working on promoting a tribute concert for Mike Haines when I got the word my dad had stage 4 cancer.
In September, my father lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 51. Obviously, dealing with a parent’s death is no easy thing, especially at 21 years old. Having to tell family members, friends, and other people my father died is arguably the hardest thing I have ever done. As the days went by and arrangements were being made, there was not a day that went by where I did not get a phone call or text from a brother asking if he could help with anything or if I needed anything. For my dad’s remembrance ceremony, five of them made the two-hour drive from Pittsburgh to be there for me as we remembered my dad.
People say that with joining a fraternity that you are only buying your friends. You get a lot from joining a fraternity and yes, money is involved. But there is no price you can put on the bond and the closeness that you develop with your brothers. When I was initiated, all I heard was how this is “a brotherhood for life.” It took me three years to realize what the saying “a brotherhood for life” actually meant. It means more than what you get when you pay your dues; it means having somebody you trust and care about being there for you whenever you need it no matter what; It means that there will be somebody going along for the ride with you all along the way.
And most of all, it means having your closest friends and brothers being there when you need them the most, for the rest of your life.
Proud to be a Phi!
Jarrod Prugar is a senior sports management major and education minor at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the last three and a half years, he has served as Recruitment Chairman and Phikeia Educator. In 2010, Jarrod was elected as the delegate for Phi Delta Theta’s General Convention in Orlando, and he is in the process of completing his Iron Phi requirements after running the 5K at this year’s Convention. Jarrod is currently the head squash coach and head middle school baseball coach at Sewickley Academy as well as team captain and president of the Robert Morris Club Baseball team.