During my last semester as an undergraduate, I overheard a classmate talking about the new fraternity he and some friends were helping to get started. After talking to him about it after class, I decided to check it out. In our student center were a couple of well-dressed young men standing behind a table covered with a blue Phi Delta Theta cloth, flanked by banners of Lou Gehrig on one side, and Neil Armstrong on the other. As I spoke with the expansion consultants and looked at the materials, my mind kept returning to the tagline “Become the Greatest Version of Yourself.”
When I transferred to Syracuse University in the Spring of 2010, I told myself that I wasn’t going to waste time with extracurriculars, that I was in college for an education and a degree. I didn’t want to pursue anything that was going to hinder my academic performance, and yet, here I was three semesters removed from swearing off extracurriculars, considering a fraternity. From everything I had been told by the consultants and read in the materials, Phi Delta Theta was not just any fraternity, it was a fraternity that wants to help its members achieve excellence in all aspects of life.
What I found locally at New York Epsilon, as well as throughout the fraternity at the Presidents Leadership Conference, General Convention and Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute is a group of young men committed to bettering themselves, their campuses and their communities. I am continuously inspired and challenged to do more and be even better by men I call Brothers in the Bond. During rush last semester I likened my chapter to an incubator of highly motivated people pushing each other to be even more successful, pushing each other to become the greatest version of themselves.
The beautiful thing about our fraternity’s tagline, is the individual nature of it. People often associate conformity and suppression of individuality with Greek organizations, and yet here emblazoned on nearly everything Phi Delta Theta publishes is a tagline urging its membership to develop their own unique, and individual talents. Diversity of individuals and their talents is what has made the United States of America the strong nation that it is today, what made my chapter, New York Epsilon at Syracuse University, the strong chapter that it is, and is also what has made Phi Delta Theta such a strong fraternity.
Becoming the Greatest Version of Yourself requires a certain amount of self-knowledge. What I mean by self-knowledge is knowing what makes you, you. It means knowing your strengths, weaknesses, values and goals. It means knowing the things that will drive you, as well as those that will hold you back. Taking time to develop this self-knowledge through reflection will help you to recognize yourself at present, as well as that greatest version you’d like to become.
Personally, becoming the greatest version of myself meant stepping up to the challenge of being a graduate student, student teacher, and chapter president. These different hats and responsibilities each required vast amounts of time and effort, and yet I still had only 24 hours in a day. I had to learn to manage my time better, to delegate tasks and responsibilities that could be delegated, schedule time for myself and others so as to maintain the personal relationships with friends and family that mean so much to me. By taking the time and figuring out what I value, when time constraints required I give things up, I was able to sacrifice those things that meant the least to me, and focus my time and energy on those that meant the most.
In striving to Become the Greatest Version of Myself, I will never focus on becoming the most amazing basketball player, (my chapter brothers can attest I’m not even close), but rather, I will focus on being the best teacher, mentor, brother, uncle, friend, etc. that I can. The greatest version of myself is inspired by great men and women of the past, teachers I looked up to in school, Brothers in the Bond, my family, and all who help me to strive each day to be even better, and do even more to be of service to the world.
Dwight Stevenson is a recent graduate of Syracuse University, as well as a Re-Founding Father and former president of the New York Epsilon Chapter.