Unlocking Leadership Potential: How Greek Life Shapes Future Leaders

Joining a fraternity or sorority isn’t necessarily on every student’s mind as they enter college, but if you ask chapter members, they’ll tell you it’s worth considering. Bradley is home to 30 chapters, including 18 fraternities and 14 sororities with diverse representation including six Black Greek organizations and three multicultural chapters.

Contrary to popular belief, these organizations at Bradley are not hard-partying, rabble-rousers as depicted in movies like Animal House and Neighbors. That’s not to say members don’t have fun, but more importantly, Greek life offers support and guidance for student success, leadership opportunities, philanthropy and future professional pathways. 

Sophomore Logan Vargas, an electrical engineering major, was hesitant at first to join a fraternity. “My understanding of Greek life was that fraternities would just party and waste away their days drinking. I didn’t think I’d ever join a fraternity because I need to focus heavily on my studies,” he said. But he learned that frivolous image was far from the truth. “Fraternities are a wonderful way to build connections with alumni for jobs, as well as make friends that can help you in your studies.” 

Vargas rushed with Sigma Nu, because it had the highest average GPA on campus and he was inspired by the comradery of its members. “I saw a group of men that were all very close to each other. This was a home away from home to them and I wanted to be a part of it.”

“I decided to join a fraternity because of the impact members make in their communities, lifelong brotherhood and to get outside of my comfort zone,” explained senior finance major Justin Fitzpatrick, president of the Zeta Mu chapter of Phi Beta Sigma and member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) which is made up of nine historically African American fraternities and sororities. “We have programs that serve the campus and community—we’re cleaning up trash, supporting Black-owned businesses and educating the youth,” he said.

Philanthropy is a large part of Greek life at Bradley. They raise money for local charities, organize community clean-ups and volunteer at local events. These students are giving back to the campus and the local community, learning valuable leadership skills along the way.

Senior Mara Lowe, President of Bradley’s Panhellenic Association, said she joined Chi Omega to make friends and “have other women who would push me to be a better version of myself, so I could give back to the community, and have a positive influence on Bradley Campus.” Through several leadership positions, including vice president, then president of Chi Omega, she’s discovered that being a leader isn’t easy.

“Not everyone is going to like the decisions you make. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but at the end of the day, your members elected you, and it is your job to help the chapter in the best way,” Lowe explained. “Ultimately, these leadership skills have helped me outside my sorority, whether it be through resume building, job interviews or just stepping outside my comfort zone.”

Practical Skills & Lifelong Connections

Junior Frank Guiglio, president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and member of Delta Tau Delta, said in addition to opportunities for personal growth, he’s learned practical skills. “Through my chapter, I have learned how to change a tire on my car, change the oil, tie a tie, patch holes in walls and put up drywall—and plenty of other useful skills that I will use in the real world.” And as a result of the friendships he’s made, Guiglio has become very active in other clubs on campus like rock climbing and MMA.

The connections made in college are inherently life-affirming, but those that belong to Greek organizations say it’s more. Kim Armstrong, ’80, a member and past president of Chi Omega, said she developed lifelong friendships and professional connections that have served her well since graduating.

“For women specifically, it provided leadership, team building and emotional growth opportunities not found in other organizations. It gave us the opportunity to make mistakes in a 'safe' environment,” she explained.

“One of the most impressive things I see with our students who join fraternities and sororities is the growth and development they have in the soft skills that employers are looking for,” said Tommy Coy, executive director of Student Involvement. “These out-of-the-classroom skills in teamwork, communication, critical thinking and problem solving help them stand out from others.”

Bradley’s Greek organizations have flourished as they carry on the legacy of their foundings. Nathan Thomas, vice president of Student Affairs, noted, “These founding principles have allowed them to be deeply engaged in philanthropy and working on critical student issues such as wellbeing and mental health. Bradley has seen the growth of multicultural Greek organizations and the expansion of the Alumni Quad to include NPHC and Multicultural Greek Organization plots to respectively signify each chapter's home at Bradley.”

Armstrong sums it up best: “I firmly believe my Greek life experience prepared me as well as, if not better, than my formal education on how to navigate 'real life' when I graduated.”

Emily Potts