Hidden among the Greek Life on EKU’s campus is a service fraternity named Alpha Phi Omega. APO currently has more than 375 chapters and 25,000 active members on college campuses throughout the nation.
EKU’s website states that APO works with national and local organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity and alternative spring break trips with EKU.
Their mission statement according to APO’s website is “to help students develop leadership on their campus and in their community through service.”
John Strada, a professor in the department of communications and APO advisor, said he created the chapter when he first started working at EKU. He said the campus already had some service organizations but none that “provided students with the co-ed fraternal niche that Alpha Phi Omega provides.”
Strada added that his favorite part of being an advisor is seeing students grow in their skills, confidence, and ability to take on leadership roles. He said he enjoys seeing students find a college family that encourages them to succeed in their academics, while at the same time developing their life skills and teaching the value of selflessness to others.
“I have stayed involved with the chapter at EKU because of the difference I have seen Alpha Phi Omega make in the academic professional, and personal lives of the students,” Strada said.
Members of APO said the fraternity’s primary goal is to promote leadership opportunities with workshops for skills such as public speaking, resume building, among other things.
Nick Young, a current APO member, said he joined the service fraternity because his sister was a member. Additionally, Young said he joined because he wanted to spend more time helping others through service projects and becoming a part of more campus organizations.
“I stayed because of the purpose I found in this fraternity,” Young said. “I’ve made such wonderful, incredible friends that inspire me daily and see so much potential in myself because this fraternity has been a place for me in which I can thrive and develop.
Rachel Lachut, a member of APO, said she joined because she wanted to be connected to a group on campus where she could do service and make long-lasting friendships. She said she stayed because she not only found what she was searching for but also has also developed as a person and been able to have “fantastic” opportunities.
“I joined because I wanted to be a different person in college than I was in high school,” said Taylor Dantes, APO alum. “I wanted to have friends, give back and develop myself into a stronger leader. I stayed because I had so many options to grow and help others grow.”
Almost all of the members have similar reasoning for joining. They said they find lifelong friendships while helping their community and others around the nation.
Mia Wilson, a current member of APO, said her favorite service event was her first Habitat for Humanity build. She said the event was a great opportunity to bond with her fraternity brothers. Wilson added that it was inspiring to see how hard everyone worked.
“[My favorite service event was] New Orleans,” said Chris Bundy, APO alum. “I really enjoyed building homes, learning about the history of the clean up with Hurricane Katrina, the politics impacting their recovery, the early days of helping the community and the nighttime bonding with the people you are with.”
Aside from friendships and service events, APO members said the organization had impacted their personal lives, careers and leadership skills.
Young said APO had impacted his major and career by allowing him to better understand his heart and mind. He added that he was able to decide what he wanted to do with his major and career far more clearly and that has drastically changed since he first arrived at EKU.
Kristy Koenig, a current APO member, said her leadership skills have grown “tremendously.” She added that she’s taken on many leadership roles within the APO chapter because of what she’s seen and learned within APO. Koenig said she has learned how to work with different types of people while “staying true to my own leadership style.”
Wilson added that APO has helped her gain confidence in her abilities.
“I used to always wait and only take responsibility if I was sure no one else wanted it because I thought anyone else would be better at it than me,” Wilson said. “Throughout my time in APO, brother has helped me to develop myself and gain the confidence to step up.”
Wilson said because of this she was able to have an officer position in the fraternity, something she said she never thought she could achieve.
“I have learned that enthusiasm and dedication can often make up for a lack of skills, and a new leadership role can be a great opportunity for growth,” Wilson said.