By Suzie Benfield
As a mother of two Phi Delts, I can give a firsthand account of “learning as we go.” When our oldest son went out of state to college in 2003, it was a whole new world for all of us. Then after the first month on campus he called and said he wanted to join a fraternity. His dad and I were clueless as to what that meant. All we knew of fraternities was from the media, primarily John Belushi in Animal House. Oh No!! We set off to educate ourselves and to trust our son’s judgment. Cost was also a concern, so our son promised to get a part-time job to pay his dues. He held several leadership positions within the fraternity and campus-wide. After college, he went to graduate school and starting working with fraternities and sororities as a professional. Now, he works for Phi Delt’s headquarters. Who knew his fraternity experience would turn in to a career?
Five years later our second son decided to attend to same college and join the same fraternity as his older brother. We were much more aware of what that meant and were fully supportive of his decision. He also had to work part time to pay his dues. The great experiences and family environment at the Phi Delta Theta house continued. Our youngest son even lived in the same room at the house, as our oldest. He also went on to find success through the fraternity and hold positions within the fraternity and became the campus Inter-fraternity Council president in his junior year.
Joining Phi Delta Theta and being an active member not only enhanced our sons’ growth and maturity, but they developed unmatched leadership experiences. The fraternity brothers encouraged each other to do their very best and provide peer stimulus to make good grades. They were a part of many community service projects while in college, and continue to practice that service. They have developed lifelong relationships and connections for opportunities that they would otherwise not be exposed to.
We have had many Fall and Spring break gatherings at our home over the 8 years of college education. Living in Southwest Florida was the perfect place for them to visit and go to the beach, lay by the pool and hang out in the evenings. Sometimes as many as 10 Phi Delt brothers would come, many having to sleep on the floor. The brothers that were international students were some of the most memorable guests and we enjoyed learning about their cultures. Every one of the young men were people we wanted our sons to associate with. I actually became famous for my fish tacos and lemon cake, while our sons’ dad was famous for his baby back ribs. We soon became known as “Mama and Papa B,” and consider it an honor to be part of the Phi Delta Theta family. We’ve even given a speech or two to all the new parents during the fraternity’s luncheon during Parent’s Weekend. Looking back, we are very proud that we supported our sons’ decisions to join a fraternity, and we are very thankful for the experiences that Phi Delta Theta has provided them.