Name: Joe Brejda
Alma Mater: Georgia Tech ’12
Occupation: Structural Engineer
Primary Volunteer Role: Chapter Counselor
“I was first inspired by Brother Dick Rodgers, IL Alpha ’52, to volunteer. Today, however, I’m inspired by the undergraduates — they motivate me to volunteer each day.”
How did Rodgers inspire you to volunteer?
Rodgers was the chapter counselor at Georgia Alpha long before I joined — before I was born, actually. When I joined SigEp, he had already seen it all. He would walk into a room and every brother there would go quiet and give him the utmost respect. You could see and feel his impact on the chapter. All of that stems from his love for SigEp and our brothers, with no thought of personal gain. He was just trying to give the same experience and brotherly love to the new generation that he was given as an undergraduate. He inspired me to volunteer with SigEp as an alumnus.
How do the undergraduates inspire you to volunteer today?
The undergraduates accomplish remarkable things, far beyond anything I did as an undergrad. Most of the time when I make a suggestion, they are three or four steps ahead of me. I’ll ask, “Did you try this?” They reply, “Yeah. We also did this, this and this, and are planning to do these next three things as well.”
My guys are leading the chapter and the campus to ever greater heights. I’ve been around to see brothers become student government vice presidents and IFC presidents. They also help run the freshman orientation for Georgia Tech, with nine brothers serving as facilitators. They are continually pushing the chapter GPA higher than it has ever been. These guys show over and over again what is possible.
I see it as my task to do my best to ensure these experiences lead to positive personal growth and learning. Whether through personal conversations, group discussions or simply challenging them in every way, I do everything I can to lead them a little further down the path to a successful and fulfilling life once they graduate. I simply want to be a part of that journey of growth and help in some small way.
What has been the most meaningful moment for you as a volunteer?
I have built solid relationships with many of the guys and they know I am available to help, but I don’t usually get a text or call to chat [about] something minor or casual. One Saturday morning, I got a text from a brother asking me if I could come to the chapter house and talk. The brother had a lot going on in his life and really needed some support and advice. I understood what he was going through and, as I sat and listened, I thought about how hard it is to reach out like he did.
It was the moment I realized I am making a difference and helping people. The seemingly little, unimportant moments that build that kind of trust are suddenly more than worth it. All of those hours spent around the house talking to the guys and simply being there without being needed, all added up to the one moment a brother needed help and made the decision to call me. Any volunteer who has had one of those experiences knows how indescribably awesome the feeling is — to truly feel you are making a difference in someone’s life.
Volunteering with SigEp helps keep me grounded. It reminds me that everyone has their own struggles and ambitions and that we all need help. Every time I talk to one of my undergrads, it causes me to reflect on my own situation and puts things into perspective.
What has volunteering for SigEp taught you?
From the outside, you can really see the impact the organization and its brothers have on each other. The timeless wisdom of our Ritual is made far more visible when you step back and look at the brothers from outside of the organization. SigEp certainly helped me get through college, but I never realized how common it was or how much the brothers rely on each other, especially to help them through the tough times that we all have.
I have also personally learned greater patience and empathy. When I step back and look at the situations different brothers are dealing with, I am grateful for my own situations and far more open to what is going on behind the scenes in other people’s lives. I have learned to look past outward behavior and discover the “why” behind someone’s actions. This is a prerequisite to Brotherly Love: You must first completely understand the other person. Only after you understand fully can you even hope to help them.
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