APOAZ Blog

Why I Joined APO

By Jamya Spencer:

 

The Fall 2018 semester was my first semester at the University of Kentucky. When I first arrived at UK, I wasn’t very familiar with the organizations on campus. I didn’t find out about APO until I attended the Fusion service event during K Week. There were several brothers in my Fusion group who were extremely friendly and excited about the service that we were doing. After the service was over, they encouraged my friends and I to attend an APO info-session and an APO restaurant night.

At the info-session, I learned more about what APO was about, and I really started to consider joining. I really liked what APO’s values and I thought that joining would be a great way for me to start getting involved on campus. However, what made me sure that I should join APO was the restaurant night. I was able to meet a lot of APO members during this event. Again, everyone was so friendly and welcoming! I knew then that APO was an organization with which I wanted to be involved.

While I do love the service aspect of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, the friendships that I formed were what really made me eager to become part of the organization. I would also say that my interactions with the people is what made me stay in APO. For me, my APO brothers who I have really gotten to know have become like family members to me. I know that they are people who I can go to during both good times and bad.

I am very happy that I joined APO. In addition to making lifelong friends, I have also been able to become more active in the Lexington community through my membership in the fraternity. My membership in Alpha Phi Omega has made my first year in college memorable and I know that APO as a whole will continue to enhance the rest of my college experience.   

An AmAZing Journey!

By Lauren Sammons:

 

Alpha Phi Omega is a brotherhood I am so grateful to be apart of. As an out-of-state student, it was important to me to find a family here at University of Kentucky. I had heard about APO my senior year of high school as I had a friend in APO at UK and heard wonderful things. As someone who loves service, I knew it would be an organization I would pursue when I arrived. My first semester I missed the rush period by a few days and was determine to rush the following semester. The Spring of 2018 was when I first pledged. I met so many incredible people and formed lasting friendships with other pledges, actives, and officers. However, I had some medical issues through the semester and was kept from completing my pledging. I was so devastated because I had been so excited to be active. Thankfully, several actives and one of my pledge trainers encouraged me to finish my pledging in the Fall. Returning back to school as a sophomore in the fall of 2018, I was able to finish my pledging process and become active! As I look back at the long journey thus far with APO, many blessings came from my extended time. I was able to grow close and form friendships with two of the pledge classes, attend additional activities, and the continued encouragement I received validated my desire for having a family here. This semester I was able to be a big, and was gifted with an incredible little. This is another experience that has extended my love for APO. Now, I can confidently say that I have a home at UK, and it is with an amAZing group of brothers!

Why I Joined APO

By Caylee Marshall:

 

I rushed APO on a whim. I had one friend who suggested that I try it out since I wasn’t involved in much else. I was extremely nervous to attend the events but was pleasantly surprised with the people I met. I went to a service event first rather than an information session because service was what I was interested in. I showed up to the event and worked alongside an active brother for an hour or so cleaning the Hope Lodge. We discussed what APO was like and the time commitment required and why I should join. I will always remember this event and the first person that welcomed me into APO. She was the one that convinced me that APO would be a good fit for me. She was so kind and humble and welcoming that I figured I couldn’t go wrong joining this group. Fast forward and as I was going through my pledge semester, I went to my very first a chapter meeting. It came as a shock to me to find that the person running the meeting, the president, was the wonderful person that I had done my very first service event with. I think this interaction really shows the true nature of APO. Everyone from the president to the new members are so humble and giving that you wouldn’t be able to tell a difference between their positions. APO is truly a servant leadership organization. The members of APO want to give back and invest in everyone they meet because they hope to see a change in the world. This sense of humility has changed the way that I look at the world and has encouraged me to become better so that I can change the world too.

Go Beyond

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Jeff Akers, founder of the Beyond Three Words WalkAThon

Leadership, Friendship, and Service – the driving principles of Alpha Phi Omega. Then there is the Scout Law; Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent – characteristics that seem obvious to live by but sometimes get missed. As joining members, we set an oath in loyalty and service that we would “do our best to exemplify the principles and to advance the organization of Alpha Phi Omega”, all for “my fraternity, for my college, for the youth of all nations, for my community and for any nation”. So, quickly reflect on that. Now ask yourself, are you or those around you doing your best?

 

Yes, we have this list of requirements and awards for different achievement, but I encourage you to not chase after any of that. Instead, chase after that feeling you get when you learn something new that you can share with others, or when a friend in need comes to you, or when people you are out in the community serving, thanks you. I promise you, that feeling is where all the reward comes from.

 

Through your remaining time in Alpha Phi Omega and beyond, find that leadership event that you connect with, or need. Find that friendship that makes you a better person, that keeps you involved. Find that service event that you can’t seem to miss a week of, an event that leaves you impacting the lives of those in your community. Always remember that it is not in the requirements you complete that bring an impact, but it is the experience that allows you to be impacted so greatly that you take what you learned and apply it elsewhere.

 

As we started the walk-a-thon last year, it was driven off two things – a passion and a burden. From the time I joined Alpha Phi Omega, I was passionate about leadership and the opportunities presented to impact those around me. As my burden, my heart was heavy for the community just beyond the walls of UK, those who were homeless. Combining the two, I knew our organization had the power to make a change, so we came up with the idea of Going Beyond. Simply encouraging brothers to do more, and to go beyond the requirements set to help a part of the community in need. Overall, we raised $2000 and were able to give nearly $1000 of that plus 200 sandwiches to a local homeless shelter, The Hope Center.

 

So, as you start this new year, really think about your passion, think about how you can further this organization, yourself, and those around you. One small idea as simple as Going Beyond can get picked up and ignite throughout the chapter, and hopefully further.

 

Our organization is more than just LFS and the Scout Law. These are things we should commit to showing day after day, action after action. It is my only hope that Alpha Phi Omega builds to truly be an organization that makes a greater impact, one that goes beyond the walls of campus and our community, one that floods this organization and causes people to truly reflect on their passions and burdens, one that leads others to, in Leadership, Friendship, and Service – Go Beyond.

Written by Jeff Akers

To the People Who Did Service

I am not quite sure how one campus organization managed to round up all the best people at UK, but Alpha Phi Omega managed to do just that. I rushed my second semester of my freshman year not knowing what it was other than it was a bunch of people who did service on campus. Little did I know that the “people who did service” would become some of the biggest influencers and motivators in my life.

I have been in APO for a year now and I know the people in this organization have truly had a lasting impact on me. My APO family, especially, has changed me in ways that I cannot explain. They have cultivated in me a confidence in myself and a passion for service that I can never repay them for. They have pushed me to be the best version of myself and chase my dreams and to go change the world. That is what this organization means to me. APO is full of world changers. The work we are doing now is going to leave a lasting impact and for that I am forever grateful to be part of it.

 

I like to keep a journal to record how I am feeling and after the last meeting of my pledge semester I wrote, “My passion for this organization has never burned so bright. APO has pushed me to be better. They make me want to be kinder, to be a leader, to be a servant, to be a friend, and so much more. Thank you APO for making me tear down my prejudices. Thank you APO for accepting me as I am. I am ever so thankful for APO and the blessings I have received from this organization.” These words still ring true a semester later, and I have a feeling they will every semester from here on out. I do not have enough words to explain what Alpha Phi Omega has meant to me. I just want to say thank you to the ones who embraced me into this glorious circle of brotherhood and those who have gently nudged me along in my journey. You all have made it so worth the time and passion put in and have forever made me a better version of myself.

Written by Caylee Marshall

Why I Joined APO

When I began my freshman year of college, I was overwhelmed by all the opportunities on campus and ended up not finding an organization that I really loved and wanted to be part of. I had heard about APO but I was never really interested in it because I thought it would require too much work. However, at the end of my freshman year, realizing that I hadn’t really gotten involved with activities on campus, I decided that I wanted to join APO, no matter how many requirements I had to fulfill. When sophomore year began, I was determined to go to all the rush events and I’m so glad that I did. I threw myself into it and began meeting so many amazing people. After every event, I would walk away having met a handful of people I had never ever seen before. I was amazed by how friendly and accepting everyone was. In addition to all the great people I met, I got to attend some really awesome events. I got all my pledge requirements done super early because I was just so excited to be a part of everything. Before joining APO, I struggled to find ways to get involved with community service, but APO instantly solved that problem. All of a sudden, I was aware of a ton of service opportunities in Lexington that I hadn’t known existed before. Every APO event that I went to, whether it was leadership, fellowship, or service, left me feeling that I had done something truly productive with my day. Being in APO gives me a sense of belonging and encourages me to be a better version of myself.

Written by Becca Higdon

Finding a “Home Away from Home”

One thing they always tell you in Germany before going to the United States to study abroad is how different friendships are. Almost anyone who has lived and studied in the US before will tell you the same thing: Americans are very friendly to you, but making actual friends is harder. In Germany it’s the other way around. We don’t do small talk in line at the grocery store or greet strangers on the street, but once you have made a friend they’re a good and loyal friend. To say I was nervous about this possible cultural difference is an understatement. Luckily, I met an active brother during my first few days in Lexington and let myself be convinced to at least try to rush. I was very cautious at first: all I knew about fraternities in the US was knowledge I acquired from movies, not to mention that German fraternities have quite a different reputation and should be avoided as much as possible. Despite those initial concerns, however, I have not regretted my decision to first rush and then pledge APO once. Being a part of APO has helped me find likeminded people and forge friendships that otherwise I would’ve never had. From pretty much the beginning of my stay in the US I had a group of people that I knew I could count on – something that is not necessarily a given, according to almost all other former German exchange students I talked to. I consider myself lucky beyond belief to have found this “home away from home” and I can’t wait for my NIA semester (even though I will sadly be going alum right after).

Written by Sira Berkhan

No Pledge Is An Island

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Juliana and her big Michael Parsons in Chicago for the 2014 National Convention. Photo credit: Zac Jones.

Coming to UK with no close friends, I’m not sure how I ended up rushing Alpha Phi Omega the fall semester of my freshman year.  Though the beginning of the school year seems distant and out of focus, I vividly remember the moment I felt that I knew I had a place in Alpha Phi Omega. I had stumbled awkwardly through pledge meetings and the beginning of my pledge retreat, finding some solace in those I’d come to recognize, but I didn’t feel like a part of anything. Instead, I felt as if my status as a pledge separated me from the sea of active brothers.

This feeling didn’t last past pledge retreat. During the retreat, I remember biting my nails down to jagged nubs and shaking my leg so frantically that one would have thought it was on fire. I bounced between groups of other pledges, conducting interviews with the vigor of Rita Skeeter, trying to dispel my nervous energy. I felt like a movie stuck on fast-forward, running through the events of the retreat faster than my legs could carry me, talking in a high-pitched shrill that added to the unnatural speed of the morning.

The day returned to normal pace as the Big/Little reveal ceremony approached. I was still on edge, and waiting in line, bouncing from one foot to the other, like I was struggling to maintain my balance on a sailboat.  Finally, the ritual began, and ended just as suddenly.  After suffering through all my anxiety, I turned around to meet the link I needed to be connected to the chain of brothers in APO– my Big. My anxiety flashed into excitement, and all at once I wasn’t a pledge in a sea of actives anymore; I was Michael Parsons’s Little, and one of the newest members of the Jets family.

That was the end of my perceived isolation. I was lovingly phagocytized into Alpha Phi Omega, into the Jets, and into Michael’s family line. My Big and I became friends immediately, and his friends became mine. Joining APO was like lighting a fuse; it took a couple of weeks to burn, but it resulted in massive explosions of friendship as Bigs and Littles met one another and our pledge class bonded in mutual bursts of excitement.  This was our beginning.  We were pledges now, but we knew that eventually, they would call us brothers.

Juliana Lavey is Alpha Zeta’s service liaison for Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church. She is a freshman Biology and English major.