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Alex Pomerantz

pomerantzAlex Pomerantz is a Sophomore on the Varsity Golf Team. In this Brother Spotlight he talks about his experiences golfing and in SigEp and how the complement each other.

Although it seems to many that a fraternity, or “frat” as many people would say, doesn’t strive beyond drinking and partying, SigEp Penn Theta strives to break this social paradigm. From booth to buggy to intramural sports and athletics, SigEp is the epitome of balanced men. On the athletics side, three brothers participate on the golf team including myself, four brothers are members of the tennis team, and one is a member of the football team. Countless others are members of club teams and our fraternity’s intramural teams. Golf at Carnegie Mellon has become a big part of my life. Just this past year, CMU golf won the national title in division III athletics for the highest cumulative team GPA, an outstanding achievement.

For me, golf is more than a sport; it is something I turn to in happiness and sorrow. I began playing golf at the age of 13, with little desire to stray from my passion at the time, soccer. It was on the way back from a soccer tournament, ironically, that I first went to a driving range. After a few minutes, I began to figure the sport was not for me, but then a crazy thing happened, I hit the sweet spot of the club. The pureness of the strike, that single moment, was what ignited my passion for a sport I plan to play forever. Ever since that strike, my life has changed.

Spending every weekend and summer day at a country club as a teenager, I began to make friends both young and old. Many weekends and summer days were spent throughout high school traveling the country from Minnesota to South Carolina to Vermont competing in tournaments. In high school, golf gave me an outlet away from my parents’ divorce and helped me make some of my best friends, but in college, I grew with the sport. I learned to use it to channel stress from schoolwork without letting it define me. In college, it’s easier for me just to swing the club and smell the flowers without worrying about a potentially errant shot.

There is a very distinguished moment I remember at the start of my college golf career at Carnegie Mellon. Derek Cobb, then a junior on the team, had given me a ride back from practice and encouraged me to head over to Sigma Phi Epsilon to grab a bite to eat with him. Being a freshman, I looked up to him so I felt bad to say no, but in my head all I could think was “I’m never joining a frat… No way I’m gonna waste my college career, particularly my college golf career, with Greek life”. Although something funny happened when I was there, I felt that people understood I wanted to be the best student-athlete I could be. No brother pressured me into joining after I told them about my focus on golf, my double major, and my desire to go to medical school. In a sense, the lack of pressure made me rethink joining Greek life. Although I deferred my bid later that week, I began coming by SigEp more often before joining a few months later. Looking back on the experience, I’ve become a better and less stressed golfer because of the support I receive from my brothers.

My motivation has really increased for the sport because I see how passionate everyone around me really is. More importantly, I have found a support network different from my golf teammates in academics, social life, and even, family life. The two cannot be compared, but I can say they have complemented each other so perfectly and helped me forge my identity as a college student-athlete.

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Evan Wineland

10419948_10202916890798395_1187231710395124119_nThis past winter break, I was fortunate enough to travel to Israel with a group called The David Project.  For ten days, I and student leaders from over a dozen other universities (including two SigEps from the Massachusetts Alpha chapter) experienced the country through trips—from our stay in a kibbutz next to the Sea of Galilea, to treks into the Old City in Jerusalem—and presentations—with presenters ranging from Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian who founded a peace organization called “Combatants for Peace”, to David Horovitz, the founding editor of The Times of Israel.  The trip was profoundly impactful, as it illustrated through its diverse itinerary just how multi-faceted the suite of issues in the state of Israel is—from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, to soaring income inequality, to water conservation.

My interactions and friendships with the other student leaders made the trip all the more immersive: all programming during the trip was complimented by both scheduled as well as unprompted follow-up discussions.  As a group, we talked about the issues, and as we acknowledged, challenged, and built off of each other’s viewpoints, we better internalized the meaning of the trip; having those people with me, who could supplement what I knew (which sometimes was relatively little) and expose me to their own perspectives, helped me to form the best understanding possible. In short, they made the trip far more meaningful—and a lot more fun, too.

The trip to Israel reinforced what’s been my most important realization as a young adult: that the people around us can really shape our experiences, and us.  So much of what made my time in the Middle East more than just an itinerary I owe to those who were there with me.  While I played no part in choosing the collection of leaders who went on the trip, I nonetheless was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who brought the most out of the trip and me, and I understand now more than ever just how important it is—when in life I do have the choice—to surround myself with those who will shape my experiences and me for the better.  Joining SigEp was one of the best ways I, personally, have managed to do precisely that since coming to Carnegie Mellon; it’s a community in which everyone is constantly pushing one another to do more and to be more, and I owe many of my favorite college memories and much of my own personal and professional growth to it.

Everyone has their own groups (of friends, peers, etc.) that give everything from the daily minutiae to life’s most memorable moments that extra dosage of context, of meaning. Those groups of people certainly won’t always be of our own choosing, but if there’s one thing I’d encourage, it’s this: that when you do have the choice, always surround yourself with the people who help you to be your best.

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Niko Torres

nikoWhen I was a freshman at CMU, I found myself quickly involved in a lot of different organizations. While I really enjoyed my involvements, something I realized I didn’t have was a very strong, solid community. As my freshman year went on, I had met a lot of different people in a various areas on campus who were involved in Greek Life. Most of these people were friends I looked up to and respected, and hearing about their experience in Greek Life made it all the more appealing to me. Through being an Orientation Counselor my sophomore year, I got to make friends with a lot of upperclassmen and people I had not previously met around campus. Coincidentally, a lot of these people happened to be brothers of SigEp. After rushing in the fall, it became clear to me that all of the brothers of SigEp were very supportive, genuine, and generally awesome people. I had finally found a community I could anchor myself to for my entire time at CMU.

Having been involved for a semester now, the friends and experiences I have gained from our chapter have been invaluable. As a person who never thought I would have rushed a fraternity, I can now say that joining SigEp was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had here at CMU so far. Coming into my second semester and having a position as a Rush Chair, I am really looking forward to getting more people interested in joining SigEp and Greek Life. I’m excited to get much more involved in SigEp events and share more awesome experiences with my brothers this spring. *two thumbs up*