Undergraduate Spotlight

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    Name:  Anthony DiGiovanni III
    Chapter:  University of Houston, Epsilon Xi

    Major:  Hotel Restaurant Management

    Initiation Year:  2008

    Graduation Year: 2010

    Undergraduate Accomplishments:  Pledge Class Social Chairman, Recruitment Chairman, Frontier Fiesta Chairman, Consul.

    Current Office:  Consul of Epsilon Xi

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    Each quarter, the HAC will spotlight an undergraduate brother within the East Texas Province who has advanced the interests of the fraternity, his own chapter, and has demonstrated good character.  


    For this quarter, the Spotlight is on Consul Anthony DiGiovanni III, Houston 2010, for his achievements within the chapter.  Below is a Q&A Interview with Brother DiGiovanni with the Houston Alumni Chapter. 


    Have an undergraduate you would like to nominate to be a part of our Undergraduate Spotlight?  Let us know by e-mailing us at houstonsigs@gmail.com!

     

     

    HAC:  How was the Epsilon Xi chapter before you became Consul?

     

    AD:  While guys in the chapter understood their job, it was an unorganized “organization” whereas the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, so to speak.


    HAC: Anthony, you came into office as Consul at Epsilon Xi facing a mountain of financial trouble, and internal problems as well.  Can you explain what the biggest challenge you faced when you initially entered office?


    AD:  The financial trouble came immediately after taking office. Headquarters started being more proactive in accountability. When I took office we were on the “Top 5” of chapters with the highest debt to Headquarters. Not to mention, our biggest internal challenge was the amount of brothers who graduated/left school/or simply stopped coming around. 


    The chapter was left with a large JI (“Just Initiated”) class and a select few older guys. The challenge in this comes with the confusion. The New Initiates have only seen one side of the lessons, committee chairs, and officer positions.  Despite this adding to the disorganization, my personal concern was the chapter’s reputation among campus, alumni, and the community. 


    HAC:  What was your goal/ambition/plan to overcome those obstacles/challenges once you were elected Consul?


    AD:  Where do I start with the goals!?! Organization and accountability were major points I made during our chapter officer elections. While running for office, I made it very clear to the chapter that change cannot happen over night, but with their support, we can make it happen. 


    After elections, I immediately took proactive steps to get the chapter on the right path, with the goal to iron out our strategic planning at the BLTW last summer, laying the foundation for excellence for the 2009-2010 school year.  At Balfour we made S.M.A.R.T. (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Attainable) goals to increase recruitment, decrease debt, and increase accountability within the chapter.  The plan and obstacles/challenges were outlined at BLTW in our Strategic Planning workshop. Our goals set were to increase alumni involvement, and one of my personal goals (as Consul) were to reduce our Chapter debt to Headquarters at all costs.


    HAC:  What did you do to improve, and work on these challenges?


    AD:  Bob Shortle, Rensselaer 1974, found me an Alumni Big Brother, Ralph Coatsworth, Houston 1994.  This was a major help. Brother Coatsworth helped the spring 2009 pledge class raise money by having a softball tournament. This was a major step in getting alumni involved.  Also Rusty Hruska, Houston 1990, picked up the football tailgate torch which brought the active chapter and alumni closer together and relieve a major amount of financial costs off the active chapter.  In short, it was not just me- it was the ENTIRE chapter that proactively reached out to Alumni.  And I have to give credit to the Alumni for all of their support.


    HAC: Were their any obstacles you hit, or faced, when overcoming these challenges?  If so, how did you overcome them?


    AD:  Initially, yes.  Getting brothers to accept the (much needed) positive changes in the pledge program, and chapter programming/operations.  With new and old members used to “the way it was” was difficult to overcome.  But with open communication within the chapter, strengthening our brotherhood, and with the full support of the executive committee, we have overcome those obstacles and we (as a chapter) are in a lot better place than we were a year ago.


    HAC: The debt seems like it was a major problem for the chapter last year. When you initially took office, until now, how much has the chapter reduced its debt? 


    AD:  When I took office in April ’09, the chapter debt to Headquarters was $18,687.00.  As of March 10, 2010 at 8:34pm, the chapter debt is now at $10,661.  If we stay on the monthly payment plan with Headquarters, and pay only the minimum, by the end of the semester we would be at $10,000.  That being said, with upcoming fundraisers we have in place this semester, we anticipate the debt to be half of that by this May.


    HAC:  What steps did you proactively take to get the debt down that much?


    AD:  I cannot take credit for it.  I would have to say it was a combination of undergraduate brothers stepping up to the plate, and reaching out to alumni for assistance and their guidance. Brad Jamison’s, Houston 2010, organization skills and application of his studies in school was the backbone of this. 


    Chris Sudjadi, Clarkson 2002, has been a very helpful financial advisor. The active chapter rallied and supported the Quaestor when brothers were placed on social probation or filed for Form 50 (financial suspension). Also, outside of dues, we held fundraisers…a lot of fundraisers! A local gun club hired our chapter to work their skeet shoot which helped reduce a lot of the debt.  Plus, we followed our monthly/semester budget to the penny.  When we ran out of our allotted “social” budget, the social events stopped.  Cutting back wasteful spending and becoming for financially responsible really helped.


    HAC: What was it that motivated the chapter at large to rally together to reduce the debt?


    AD:  You will always have brothers who are not as involved as others, but that does not make them bad Sigma Chi’s, nor does it mean they do not care or have a strong passion for the Fraternity. Every brother in the chapter wants to make a difference, and we all want Epsilon Xi to be the best.  As far as motivation for decreasing debt, that’s all our chapter has known to do.  Whether it is recruitment, the debt, or the pledge program, all the brothers in the chapter are hard workers.  We are a very driven group. When it comes fundraiser day, it’s more like clockwork than anything.


    HAC: What is your goal for Epsilon Xi over the next year?


    AD:   We are optimistic the debt will be gone within the next year.  After that, get the house renovated, and keep the house at full occupancy.  I realize it will take some serious budgeting on the chapter’s part to pay for utilities and such, but I am confident and proud to say that will not be a problem for Epsilon Xi.  We have already proven that we can stick to a tight budget, and make it work.


    HAC: It’s no secret that Epsilon Xi has seen its hardships over the past several years.  What has Epsilon Xi done to take that next step towards excellence?

     

    AD:  Some Brothers think Sigma Chi starts with pledgeship, or Initiation.  It all begins with Recruitment- proper recruitment.  Implementing Sam Cimino’s, Stephen F. Austin 2003, teachings from Mission 365 has definitely helped the chapter in not only finding Men of Good Character, but in many other areas.  A drastic change in recruitment has brought our retention up and our cumulative chapter GPA 2nd among All Greek Men. Positive changes in the pledge program, weekly literary lessons, brotherhood retreats, and I-Week have also made the step toward excellence.


    HAC: How do you feel –as Consul- you have best served the chapter thus far?


    AD:  Keeping moral up, everyone knows we’re the best; they just need to hear it. Whenever I hear news about Sigma Chi excelling I relay it back during a chapter meeting. I, as well as the chapter at large, have worked hard to change the chapter’s image (on campus, the community, and within the chapter) of the “crazy frat bro” stereo-type.  Sigma Chi is a leadership and a character building institution.  We should all strive to live up to our Fraternity’s values and ideals, and that has been a central focus of mine for the brothers to have a better understanding of.  I can confidently say every brother in Epsilon Xi has improved to better themselves, the fraternity they love, and are proud of.


    HAC: What guidance have you received to move the chapter in a more positive direction?


    AD:  I have been very open to suggestions and recommendations from all alumni. Their advice and guidance has been extremely helpful.  Even though I do not always run with every piece of advice I am given, I am always willing to accept their advice.  They were in my shoes once, and to gain their insight and opinion can never hurt, but only to help further the interests of our beloved Fraternity.  There are too many alumni to name that have helped us over the past year, but Brothers, you know who you are, and I thank you.


    HAC: As Sigma Chi’s, we aspire to live the Ritual in our daily lives.  In your opinion, how have you, and the Chapter, lived by the Ritual over the past year?

     

    AD: Epsilon Xi is now LIVING THE RITUAL, not just regurgitating it, which is a far better place than it was over a year ago.  Sure, no man is perfect.  Nothing is ever completed, finished, or a final product.  There is always something to improve upon.  And it is the Ritual that is our Cornerstone- the basis for everything we as Sigma Chi’s stands for.  Without it, we would be just merely a “club.”  With the strong guidance from alumni, the support, and the strong drive the brothers have had this past year to make a difference has really opened our eyes better in terms of Ritual.  Every brother in the chapter will have a different answer, but for me personally the most heartwarming escape is a Ritual meeting. It truly takes the stress out of my day and gives me enlightenment.


    HAC: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?


    AD: There is no telling where the road will take me.  But I am confident that with the strong principles, values and ideals I have learned in Sigma Chi, and the life-long ties of Brotherhood, I know I will be in a good place.  I would love to be a HAC WGD Chair one day, giving back to the fraternity that has given me so much more.  But I would like to work in hotel management with a casino in the long run.  We’ll see where the White Cross guides me after graduation.