Members of the Phi Beta Sigma, all decked out in their royal blue attire, gathered around their laptops and notebooks in their “Study With the Sigmas” event.
The seven members opened the doors of room 205 on the second floor of the University Center for students to come in if they needed help with their work or just wanted to relax and meet the gentlemen.
The Sigmas had a variety of majors such as business management, sports management, and criminal justice.
Though some kept their focus on their work, the night was mostly filled with jokes, rough housing, and the occasional foreign language of sports.
During this event, a young man who is a premed here at ESU, joined the table of Sigmas in the hopes of becoming one.
“College wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” he commented when discussing his first few months here. His original plans for joining the football team failed.
“I wanted to be something better.” From that, he discovered the Sigmas.
As a welcoming, each of the Sigmas shared why they decided to join.
Dominique better known as “Dom” was already well connected with the Sigmas through his other friends. Through his involvement he became the president of the fraternity.
Elijah Crandall joined because he was chasing the feeling of being a part of something. “I liked the brotherhood aspect. I’ve always been a part of sports teams growing up and I always liked that bond. But, usually when the season is over everyone goes their own way but [with the Sigmas] it’s a lifelong bond.”
Another point Crandall brought up, which was a popular topic amongst the gentlemen, was the business aspect the Sigmas provide.
“One of our pre-programs is ‘Bigger & Better Business’”, said Crandall. “I’m a businessman at heart. Even if it comes to the professors. I’m all about ‘well, what can you do for me?’ So the business aspect stuck out. It’s good for networking.”
Sterling Francois, was approached by a Sigma at his previous school, whom he said changed his life. “He told me ‘my organization will teach you to think differently.’”
“[The Sigmas] changed me. I used to be someone who didn’t care about a lot of things. Now, I’m more about my business. I get things done, “ said Francois. “It’s a growing process. Being in this organization teaches you a lot of life lessons- stuff that you knew before but tried to ignore it. [The Sigmas] gave you the problems and said ‘here this is your problem. Are you going to learn from this or continue to ignore it?’”
Waleed “Lid” Edwards joined because the Sigmas kept each members originality. “I didn’t have to change who I am. [In] other organizations you had to be something you’re not. [The Sigmas] enhanced your attributes. They helped me grow.”
Being a Sigma helped Lid come out of his shell. One member even commented: “Lid was the quiet one. Now, he won’t shut up.”
It also helped him gain more recognition on campus. “Nobody really knew me on campus. People knew me from ‘oh, I see you with your girl all the time.’ Now I get people walking up to me and it feels good.”
Ira Hayes, one of the more quiet ones in the group, joined for a variety of reasons. “I wanted to be something bigger than myself. [As for] the brotherhood aspect, I definitely wouldn’t doubt that for the rest of my life.”
Brandon Butler is a Sigma legacy. “My uncle’s a Sigma so that leaned me. I feel like with being a Sigma, I can be whoever I want to be. There’s no stereotype to being a Sigma. I can be a nerd this day and a weirdo the next.”
“Everything I am, and everything I see myself being has to do with being a Sigma,” Butler continued. “These are my brothers. I’ll do anything I can for them and make sure they’re taken care of. Even if they annoy me.”
Butler, as a Criminal Justice and Sociology major, plans to spend his future correcting law enforcement. “Ultimately, I want to be a DA and I want to work in internal affairs. I want to prosecute the police that’s out there unjustly killing people. Being a Sigma and doing that, brings the right connections and likeminded people. Basically making the community better.”
Maurice “Reese” Jackson, who is also a football player, first dismissed the idea of being a Sigma. “Football started and I was like ‘nah’. I had football and my senior year. I thought I wasn’t going to have the time.”
During this time Reese’s father also suffered from a stroke. “I wanted to be home with my dad as much as possible and help my mom out. So, I had a lot going on and I didn’t want to put more on my plate.”
As things came into fruition for Reese and he returned to ESU, Hayes pushed for him to join the organization. “Ira came to me and was like ‘come to the interest meeting, come to the interest meeting’ and I said ‘fine I’ll come’. When I got there I met all these heads,” Reese said pointing to his Sigma brothers. “I didn’t want them to see me, but then they all saw my face and I was like welp. Even if I didn’t want to do it now I have to. If I didn’t, I felt like I was letting everyone down. Now, we hang out every day. It’s like a whole ‘nother family.”
As well as campus events, the Sigmas are involved in their community. “We went to Stroudsburg high school and volunteered for JDRF,” said Reese. “And we did the Sexual Assault Walk. The Sigmas gave me a chance to change the community. And my favorite color is blue too so…”
As for what’s next for ESU’s Sigmas: when I asked Dom, who is a grad-student here, who would take over as president once he’s gone, he looked over at his brothers then at me and replied “Jesus.”
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