Greek life is just one of the numerous extracurricular options at Olivet College – but there’s something special about joining a sorority or fraternity. One hundred seventy-one students make up the 11 Greek organizations at OC. The oldest all-female collegiate society in the nation, the first co-educational literary/social society in the nation, many other century-old organizations, and even a few founded past the turn of the 21st century planted their roots at OC. Each Greek organization has a unique history, motto and tradition, but they all have a few things in common too.
At the heart of Greek life are values of brotherhood and sisterhood, growth, and especially, service learning. As stated by the college’s founding fathers in 1844, OC is dedicated to teaching students the divine art and science of doing good to others. Comet Greek students take on the charge through annual community events and special projects throughout the year. Most recently, Greek students combined their efforts at the Charlotte CROP Walk, an annual fundraiser dedicated to ending hunger both locally and internationally.
OC Intersociety Council President Beau Heilig is preparing for a career as an insurance agent, but more importantly, a career helping people in their time of need. “It’s very important to give back,” Beau said adamantly. “My family experienced hard times when I was growing up, and our community helped my family. People who cared about me made the hard times easier, so I jump at the chance to be able to do that for someone else.”
Beau is a member of the Phi Alpha Pi fraternity and is a senior. He hails from Memphis, Michigan, one of the eastern most points in the state, and often felt homesick early during his student experience. The Greek houses welcomed him with open arms, and he quickly found his fit with Phi Alpha Pi. Beau’s love for all the Greek houses – not just his own fraternity – has continued to grow, and he can’t believe the number of connections he’s made thanks to Greek life.
“Being a part of Greek life has so many benefits,” Beau explained. “I’ve gotten to build relationships with all different types of people, network, and develop my leadership and time management skills. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to ask for help, and I know any Greek house on campus would do anything to help me. I’m inspired to take these lessons into my career, and to really go above and beyond as an insurance agent to help my clients feel safe and secure.”
Beau and his brothers are already planning ways they can give back to the Olivet community this holiday season. A tradition since the 1970s, Phi Alpha Pi hosts an annual community holiday party at their house for local children. The brothers give gifts, play games and even dress up like Santa. Recently, Beau experienced an exceptionally rewarding moment thanks to his community involvement.
“I work at the Lamplighter restaurant and one of my coworkers told me that he remembers coming to a Phi Alpha Pi holiday party, and the brothers giving him gifts and playing games,” Beau said. “It was amazing to hear that my brothers made such a lasting impression on my coworker, he remembers it more than 20 years later. It’s awesome motivation to keep up the hard work.”
The Phi Alpha Pi brothers aren’t the only Greek house on campus giving back this season. Nu Gamma Xi, a sorority celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, recently hosted a Shave-a-Thon event with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, focused on conquering childhood cancer, as a fundraiser and event to raise awareness.
The sorority meets once a week, and President Jillian Johnson makes sure the sisters plan community service at every meeting. Nu Gamma Xi sisters volunteered at the CROP Walk as well, and much like Beau, Jillian is centering her career around helping others become their best self as an industrial psychologist. This month, the sorority has arranged time to volunteer at the local humane society, cleaning cages and walking dogs, and they have a bigger goal to plan a disaster relief service trip to Florida before the academic year is over.
“My sisters and I bring so much passion to giving back,” Jillian explained. “At every meeting, all of us are throwing out tons of ideas. It’s hard to make time for all of them, but we’re striving to do service at least once a month. Personally, my dad works with Meals on Wheels, helping elderly and other individuals have access to nutritious meals. I’m excited for Nu Gamma to partner with them.”
In addition, Nu Gamma’s brother organization, Alpha Xi Omega, known as Elite, is also deeply involved in the community. This semester, the fraternity volunteered at the CROP Walk, and also hosted a disaster relief food drive following devastating hurricanes in the south. Further, the brothers are in their second year mentoring Olivet Middle School students, encouraging them to attend college and helping with their homework.
Elite’s community service liaison, Jeff Humphrey, summed up community service like this, “It’s something you have to do. I experienced a time when I needed help as a kid, and my community stepped up. It was a great feeling knowing others were there for me. We’re all in this world together, and the only way to make it better is to step up when people are in need.”
Learn more about opportunities to get involved with Greek life and service learning at Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See campus for yourself by scheduling a visit.