DENTON (UNT), Texas — Living by the motto “always prepared, always together (semper parati, semper juncti)” has paid off for UNT’s Alpha Nu Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha this year.
Although the UNT chapter is composed of only 13 active members, teamwork and preparedness helped them receive top recognition as Chapter of the Year at last month’s 2013 National Convention in Puerto Rico and Best Chapter in Texas at the 2013 Texas Phiota Formal awards ceremony in Austin last May.
“I was just shocked and overwhelmed,” said College of Business senior Jonathan Camargo who serves as public relations chair and past president. He said he heard the news as he was headed to spend time with one of his fraternity brothers after work. “While I was president I would tell them we had to put in the work because we wanted to be chapter of the year. I don’t think anyone imagined that we were going to get it.”
Phi Iota Alpha is the first national Latino fraternity and student organization in the United States, which strives to empower the Latin American community through education, service and preservation of Latino culture.
The Alpha Nu chapter members attribute their success to their dedication to philanthropy and cultural awareness. Each year they strive to raise $500 for UNICEF to support clean water in third-world countries by organizing Halloween-themed fundraisers such as trick-or-treating around campus for spare change and a pumpkin carving contest. Other philanthropic initiatives include picking up trash for Keep Denton Beautiful and mentoring at-risk students through Guys Operating as Leaders (GOAL).
“We give these middle school students a big brother relationship and teach them that there are other ways than drugs and gangs,” said UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service junior Randall Hernandez who serves as the president of the Alpha Nu chapter. “We use soccer as a key element to teach them leadership and communication skills because no matter where they end up in their careers, they’ll need those valuable skills.”
The fraternity raises awareness of Latin American history and current events through watching documentaries and hosting chapter discussions. Hernandez says that although the organization has Latino roots, they have become more diverse over time as men of different colors and backgrounds joined the fraternity.
Hernandez and Camargo agree that their fraternity is the kind of organization that college men join to gain skills necessary to succeed after college.
“We strive to be better individuals, conducting ourselves professionally and morally,” said Camargo.