Brotherhood & Unity: Retreat Spring 2016

On the weekend of February 28th, Alpha Kappa Psi Beta Chi had a brotherhood retreat at Camp Istrouma in Greenwell, Louisiana.  With a chapter of over 100 members, it can sometimes be difficult to build on the brotherhood of fraternal ideals.  Through several different activities, our chapter was able to get acquainted, build trust and rapport, develop respect, and enhance unity through each individual member’s participation.

They day started with 10 separate teams developing their communication skills through games that involved being blindfolded and using non-verbal cues.  Once each team had developed an identity, they competed against each other using their own strengths and skills.

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As a gift for the graduating seniors, jars were left open to place notes in for well wishes.  Although our seniors will become alumni members upon graduation, it was an important aspect of our brotherhood to demonstrate a unified front of pride for the work they had put into the chapter as student members.  Messages were full of memories and hope for future success, all in an effort for our graduates to remember Alpha Kappa Psi Beta Chi in the fondest way possible.

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Perhaps the most unifying activity was done in the dark, with each member possessing a LED flameless candle.  Several phrases and statements were read off, and if a member agreed with the statement, they turned their light on, and if they disagreed, their candle was switched off.  This activity demonstrated that even statements that might be deemed as a negative experience or feeling did not isolate a member as they could see other candle lights on, indicating that at least one other brother agreed and felt the same way. Beta Chi learned more about each brother as we drew individual’s names from a hat, having to tell a story or close memory about the brother’s name we had picked.  This activity allowed us share what we loved about the brothers we knew, and helped us to discover stories about brothers we had not been acquainted with in the past.  Each member was able to leave with a new best friend, new memories, and a closer bond to the brotherhood as a whole.

“Unity is strength…where there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”–Mattie J.T. StepanekSprinRetreat2016

Lagniappe and Leadership

PBLI 2016 Orlando

We picked up one excellent word–a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word–‘lagniappe.’…It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure.

–Mark Twain

On the weekend of February 19th, 39 members from the Beta Chi chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi traveled to Orlando, Florida to experience the fraternity’s brotherhood and education at its finest level.  Notable alumni, students, honorary initiate members, and successful business executives from a variety of industries offered a structured program of learning focused on professional skill building at the individual level, while allowing for the opportunity to network with other members and business professionals.

Seminars included lessons on differentiation within the labor force, personal branding, emotional intelligence, servant leadership, leadership accountability, social capital, tips on personal pitches, and many more topics.  Each topic tied into the underlying message from keynote speaker Stan Phelps, which was the importance of “lagniappe”, or the little extra that can go a long way.

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Beta Chi chapter had unknowingly already adopted this principle when they traveled 13 hours via bus to reach Orlando to take advantage of a significant amount of learning and networking opportunities to better themselves personally and professionally.  While the Beta Chi members benefitted from taking advantage of the professional side of PBLI, they also learned more on the personal level of issues that affect individuals and chapters, such as conflict resolution, diversity, and retention.  PBLI was a fantastic experience for all those who participated, and the entire Beta Chi chapter will benefit from the lagniappe that the participants will now put forth to their brothers, chapter, and community as a whole.

Together Everyone Achieves More

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together – African Proverb

This past month at our annual Fall Retreat, Beta Chi experienced an array of challenges centered on team building. Planned and executed by Master of Rituals, Michael Cusanza, retreat was a time for brothers to work together in creative ways. Each activity urged participants to trust each other while accomplishing an ultimate goal. Each mistake only created a learning experience. It was a day filled with many laughs, lessons and brotherly love. Take a look at some of the activities we enjoyed.

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Teamwork truly makes everything easier, so I reached out to the brothers of Beta Chi to help me describe what teamwork means to the chapter. The responses I received painted a picture of brotherhood. Of the many answers, a few themes stuck out.

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  1. Achieving a common goal. When asked what teamwork means to them, many of the brothers talked about accomplishing goals, no matter how big or small. When everyone is on the same page, that goal becomes “something bigger” than the team itself, and leads the entire group to sweet success.
  1. Trusting your teammates. This was mentioned repeatedly as one of the most vital components to a successful team, and that path to success is paved with understanding and respect. Listening to others and keeping an open mind leads to stronger bonds amongst members. A little organization can’t hurt either – a trustworthy team leader guides the pack, but there has to be mutual trust between teammates and leader.
  1. Bringing out the best in people. Many brothers agreed that teams build relationships that become learning opportunities. Each member has the potential to discover true talent, and apply it to productivity. By bringing these unique talents together, the entire team will see amazing results. And that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

New York, New York!

This semester, Beta Chi chose New York City as the inspiration for our rush week. To reflect on our roots as an organization, we looked to where it all began – with walks across the Brooklyn Bridge. The founding fathers of Alpha Kappa Psi had a vision of a brotherhood that would end up becoming the premier developer of principled business leaders and the oldest and largest professional fraternity in the world.

In recent years, many Beta Chi brothers have visited or even gotten the chance to work and live in The Big Apple. We asked them to share their experiences and what it meant to them as brothers to be where it all began…                

michaelNY2Michael J. Cusanza

For Spring Break 2015, I took a trip with my family to New York City. I was especially excited about this vacation because of the rich history New York has to offer, especially the history of my business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. While there, I kept telling my family that we HAD to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge because it is such an integral part of my business fraternity. Finally after days of nagging, we journeyed to Brooklyn for a stroll across the bridge.

As I took my first step across the bridge, I began to dwell on the founders of Alpha Kappa Psi. They were ordinary men just like you and me. They had dreams, plans, and visions for the future. They had an idea for a group of individuals with the same passion for business to join together to change what it means to be a professional businessman. While walking across the bridge, I was inspired! What opportunities are before me to change the business world? What do I have to offer? Can I do as the founders before me had done?

After completing the walk across the bridge, I felt that I had taken a mental journey as well. I figured that opportunities like the one placed before the founders are all around me. I made it a resolve to seek out and utilize those opportunities, and in the end, who knows what I can accomplish.

 

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I was in New York City over the summer doing an 8 week internship in Internal Audit. I got this internship through the Center for Internal Auditing program, which I went into partially because of the encouragement and advice of one of my AKPsi brothers.

Living in New York City has been my dream for several years, and it was just as amazing as I expected it to be! I saw musicals, did a lot of shopping, saw the Statue of Liberty, met up with a few of my AKPsi brothers from LSU, and even met a couple AKPsi brothers interning with me who went to school in NY. Alpha Kappa Psi really helped to prepare me for my internship by teaching me about professionalism, how to push my career forward, what to wear in an office environment, and even how to have fun outside of work with co-workers and others who you have a professional relationship with. I can definitely see why the Brooklyn Four thought that a city like NYC needed an organization to teach students these skills. I didn’t get a chance to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge like the founders of our fraternity did, but that is one of the first things on my list for after I move back to NYC!

 

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Mirijam Stewart

The very first suit I ever owned was a brown hound tooth, made by Nicole Miller. At fourteen years old, I entered my very first cross examination debate and won. In that suit, I wasn’t a freshman in high school; I was a woman ready to take on the world.

A few years later, I was a design intern for Nicole Miller, working on Seventh Avenue of Manhattan, better known as Fashion Avenue. Everyday I would say good morning to CEO Bud Konheim, and then get to work with THE Nicole and her brilliant design team. Everyday was an adventure. Manhattan expanded my definition of friendship and brotherhood. In a city that big, it’s easy to get swallowed whole in the vast vacuum it seems to be. Thankfully, the friends you make in New York ground you. While there may seem to be few in such a crowded place, those bonds never break. I still talk to them as much as I can. I became a better person, touched by the beauty of art and the still more beautiful people who created it. Each one of them embodied the magic of New York, which was the most valuable thing I learned. You see, the island isn’t just a city or a place. It is a union. It’s music and struggling artists. It’s businessmen, packing lunches in their briefcases; drivers, shop keepers, real estate agents, all those who walk in the night, going to a play that they’ve already seen. New York is an organism, a soul, of game changers and rain dancers.

For the first time, I understood why Alpha Kappa Psi could be as welcoming as it has been for little over a century: Its roots are in New York. Its roots are in the hearts of people who strive for the advancement of human kind, and human kindness.

 

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Jade Owens

I had an internship with Burlington Coat Factory in NJ, but part of my job was going to NY twice a week to meet with different clients.  However the first time I went to NY was for my interview with Burlington. I had just been initiated into AKPsi and was using everything they taught me to get this internship. While I was there I went to the Brooklyn Bridge and it was so amazing to think that I was walking on the same bridge as AKPsi’s founding fathers did 111 years ago! I know full heartedly that without AKPsi’s guidance and teachings that I would have never acquired to skills to obtain my summer internship with such an amazing company.