To say I was all over the place in high school is an understatement. When I went on college tours I was sometimes interested in Greek Life at one university and at other times it would be on the back burner. Many of my friends knew they were going to join fraternities but whenever someone would ask me I wouldn't typically have an answer. I was going to a school where Greek Life is a huge part of campus and people are constantly wearing their letters around campus. There was always one fraternity I wanted to join but they weren't at Alabama so I assumed that it was a sign that I didn't need to rush.
My freshman year was a little tough. While I did have friends and was having a good time in college I felt something was missing. Not in regards to parties or drinking alcohol but I felt I was missing that distinct group of friends. I always had a group of friends in my life wherever I went and I still do but I didn't have that in college. My freshman year I decided to join an academic fraternity known as Phi Sigma Pi. I liked the idea that it was a social fraternity that had an academic aspect. PSP would hold events such as fundraisers and social events but would also have study nights. PSP made me find my group of people in college and also helped me grow. For someone who didn't know if a fraternity was right for him I was lucky enough to have found a college family but what makes things even better in college is when the opportunity can find you.
As long as I can remember I have always heard the words Alpha Epsilon Pi. Growing up at a Jewish camp many of the counselors were members of this fraternity and would be seen wearing their letters during the day. They spoke highly of the Jewish fraternity which was full of all Jewish members and how many people are Ramah alums. I had told myself I wanted to join this fraternity but when I found out Alabama didn't have an AEPI I abandoned the thought. In the middle of my junior year, I received a message from the national headquarters about their interest in bringing back AEPI to Alabama and that they would like me involved as a founding father. AEPI was the only fraternity I ever wanted to be apart of and while I would not be in school much longer I had the opportunity to create something for the future.
I thought about Judaism, Ramah, my friends and family before I accepted this challenge. Fraternities aren't made overnight but I had the chance to build something that becomes significant in the future and is talked about by everyone.
Its been a year and a half since the eleven founding fathers started Alpha Epsilon Pi at Alabama and in just that time span Alabama AEPI has received a charter, recognition by the university as a fraternity, 26 amazing members who are about to add many more and gained the support and love of a Jewish fraternity that has shaped so many great people. I took a big risk as a 20-year-old who decided to become a founding father but I can say that this risk is one of the biggest payoffs I have ever received.
If you asked me when I was 17 if I would join a fraternity I would respond with "I don't know." I didn't know if fraternities were my thing and I didn't know what I wanted to focus on in college. Many people have told me that joining a fraternity was the best thing that happened to them but for me, I think starting a fraternity and seeing the success in such a short period of time is the best thing that happened to me. Alabama AEPI has a long way to go but the future is bright for this fraternity that was only an idea a year and a half ago. AEPI has allowed me to connect with my Judaism and bring in experiences that could be useful to the rest of my chapter. I haven't gained just my friends but I have gained another family. So whether you want to be in Greek Life or not just know that when an opportunity comes knocking sometimes it is best to answer the call, no matter how late in the game it is.