NGLA Leaves Lasting Impact At Shippensburg
IHQ Staffer Jon Cockerham had a chance to recently spend time with undergraduate Ryan Gandy (pictured below) from Shippensburg Univ to discuss Ryan’s participation in the Northeast Greek Leadership Academy (NGLA) back in February. Only a small percentage of students get to experience this, so we were very interested in Ryan’s experience.
JC: Why did you choose to go to NGLA?
RG: I had been looking to go to multiple conferences in order to better the Greek life community here at Shippensburg. The funny thing is, I initially decided to not go, but I wanted to see what positive differences I could bring back. The Greek Life Office here at Shippensburg agreed to fund the trip for me.
JC: What roles do you have within your Chapter and Greek Life Community?
RG: I am currently the VP of Finance of my chapter and the President of the IFC; I also serve as the IFC delegate of Shippensburg’s Student Government Association.
JC: What made you want to join Pilam?
RG: I joined Alpha Kappa Psi (business fraternity) in Spring 2018 to work on professional development. When I joined, I met a few brothers of Pi Lambda Phi. They told me about the leadership opportunities that come with joining a social fraternity and I wanted to check out more opportunities to enhance my professional experience. I ended up rushing Pilam that next semester and was initiated fall 2018.
JC: What other leadership roles do you have in other organizations on campus?
RG: I am on the Presidential Advisory Council for the University, and on the committee for Off-campus safety & facilities. I like being involved and engaged with my campus community, I think it’s important to have consistent Greek life representation in these roles and conversations. I also sit on the budgeting and finance committee and the university’s sustainability committee.
JC: What did you take away from NGLA?
RG: Essentially, it’s nice to see, as a D2 school, that other schools have similar concerns and issues. We learned how to self-evaluate our chapters based on a scale called “4 Phases of a Chapter”. This has allowed us to pinpoint where we can improve on specifically within our individual chapter. I think that the main takeaway from the conference was learning how to be proactive in Greek life, rather than reactive. Poor planning will lead to poor performance, then it becomes difficult to come back from that; it’s important that we are organized each semester from the beginning and ready to roll out with strategic-planning.
JC: How will having gone to NGLA help you enhance your Chapter and Greek Community?
RG: As a Greek community, we’re only as good as the worst chapter on our campus; this is because if that’s the only fraternity that [a non-Greek person] knows, then that will instantly be their notion of what a fraternal organization looks like. It’s up to us to make sure that even the worst chapter on campus has the resources and tools needed to self-evaluate and ensure that they can improve moving forward, rather than playing catch up when we find out about a problem. Yes, competition is good, but undermining one another consistently is how the community, as a whole, will diminish. If we want a healthy Greek life community at Shippensburg, we need to provide each other with the resources necessary to improve.
JC: Would you recommend this conference to other Pilams?
RG: Absolutely! I think it would be amazing moving forward to see strong Pilam representation at this event annually. This is a great way that we can distinguish ourselves as a fraternity, as one that self-evaluates while focusing on the betterment of Greek life at all of our respective institutions.