For this year’s Founders’ Day blog series, we asked each member of the staff to go back to their days as a pledge class remember and learn about Chi Psi’s founders to tell us which one they most relate to. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring and always educational (about the founders and the staff). First up, is Justin Zolot:
Which Founder do I most relate to and why?
Well, this is a tough one. I’ve never actually been asked this question before, but I figured I’ll give it a shot.
Well, first things first, there’s one obvious characteristic that I share with all the Founders and that no one on the Central Office’s current staff shares – we’re all brothers of Alpha Pi. I always thought that was pretty cool when I was first introduced to Chi Psi at Union College. While I was at Union, I was a campus tour guide, and I would purposely take my group of prospective students and their parents through South College (which is now known as Sorum House) only to mention that the building was the original location of my beloved fraternity 168 years ago. I tried to make it as dramatic as that scene from Remember the Titans when Coach Boone takes his team to the Battle of Gettysburg, but I don’t think I was very successful.
Nonetheless, the setting provided the perfect opportunity to talk about the roles Greek Life serves within Union’s student experience, its importance within Union College’s history, and the pride our alumni carry with them for their respective houses. Up until 2004, our Lodge was located at Golub House and still remains an active part of our Alpha’s experience despite it now being located in Potter House with Delta Delta Delta sorority (I know what you’re probably thinking…wait, you live with a sorority? The answer is yes, and you will never hear an Alpha Pi brother complain about it.) I will be returning to our Lodge in Schenectady at the end of this month for Alpha Pi’s ReUnion weekend, and I am very excited to celebrate the weekend with alumni who have not been back to campus anywhere from 5 to 50 years.
If I had to choose one Founder, I believe I best relate to Sam Titus Taber.
Why you might ask? First off, he was born from an old Massachusetts family, something that I guess I could claim similarity. While my father’s family settled in New Haven, CT after migrating from Russia, my mother’s family is documented to have originally traveled through Ellis Island from Ireland, and then like most Irish immigrants, settled in Boston! Br. Taber also claimed his occupation as “country gentleman” which, to me, is as vague as telling the person who was never affiliated with Greek Life sitting next to me on an airplane that I am an Alpha Visitor for Chi Psi Fraternity. So I guess we have that in common too! After graduating from Union College, he attended law school at Harvard. He obviously loved Massachusetts as much as I do, and I’ve always called the Boston area Alpha Pi East since it seems everyone who graduates from Union College and doesn’t move to New York City typically moves there. During Br. Taber’s free time, he was an avid enthusiast of Gregor Mendel’s studies of botany and cross-pollination. While I never received a BS in Horticultural Sciences like my good friend and Chi Psi brother Justin Froeber (whom you may know as lead guitarist of the all-Chi Psi band “Froeber and the Chi Spies”), I have many childhood memories of planting tomatoes and other vegetables in my grandmother’s garden after elementary school, and I still love helping my father with yard work around our house when I am home on my vacations. While it is not confirmed, I imagine Br. Taber enjoyed being outdoors with friends and went on long hikes to observe the different plant species native to the Northeast. As you can tell, Br. Taber and I are essentially the same person, and I am proud to call him an Alpha Pi brother!
This Founders Day, I am more appreciative of Chi Psi than I’ve ever been before! After two wonderful years of working for the Chi Psi Central Office, I am rolling off staff to pursue my next chapter in life. While nothing is confirmed at this point in time, I am pursuing opportunities on both coasts. My dream is to attend the University of Oregon’s sports business MBA program, and I cannot thank the Eta Delta brotherhood enough for being so supportive throughout the rigorous application process and preparation for my eventual (fingers crossed) transition. If there is one thing this job and life experience has taught me, it is to not be afraid of the unknown and to trust yourself. I have developed a professional network and countless friendships with Chi Psis across the country, and I will forever cherish the memorable times we’ve had throughout my travels. When I walk out of the Central Office doors for the last time next month, I will walk confidently and with my head held high.
Happy 173rd Birthday Chi Psi and thank you for the memories! Here’s to creating more…
Yours in the Bonds.
Justin M. Zolot, Pi ’12