When he first arrived at Northern Arizona
University, Austin Gemmell never envisioned himself joining a
fraternity. Today, he is the president of Delta Chi, and his work with the
organization has helped him adjust to university life, while enabling him to
contribute to the community and prepare for his future.
Austin admits the idea of fraternities was unattractive
when he first came to Flagstaff.
“I was completely opposed to fraternities
leaving high school, just because that was the mentality then,” Gemmell says. “You
see the stereotypes with parties and all that, and I didn’t want to be that
guy. I was very close-minded.”
Gemmell, now a senior criminal justice major, was originally recruited
by his friends to join the Delta Chi
fraternity his freshman year. Though he would decline his first invitation to
join the group, Gemmell began to change his mind when he witnessed the kinds of
relationships that could be built within the fraternity.
“They just invited me to hang out, and I saw
they’re a very unique chapter,” Gemmell says. “Everyone has a different reason
for joining, and I think that’s what pulls them together. We all act like brothers,
and it’s never changed. I really regretted not rushing my first semester.”
Years later, Gemmell finds himself in a role he
never expected as president of the Delta Chi fraternity. While his work has
gone on to benefit the chapter, Gemmell is grateful for the personal opportunities
he’s had leading a group of young men in bettering their community.
“We are here for a purpose,” Gemmell says. “We
are giving back and offering these kids another chance to take on real world
Making a name in service
In addition to street cleanups, volunteer work
at food and animal shelters, and canned food drives, Gemmell says that Delta
Chi is primarily known for its work with the V Foundation in the fight against
cancer. Last year alone, Delta Chi raised $1,500 at its Halloween Bash, one of
the organization’s premier events.
“When you tell people that they’re coming to
donate for a good cause and have a good time, it really touches base,” Gemmell
says. “It really hits close to home.”
Delta Chi is also involved with many other Greek
organizations at the university. Each of the fraternity’s 60 members is
encouraged to attend events that contribute to other philanthropic efforts around
Gemmell says Delta Chi’s overarching goal of
providing service stems from its beliefs in education, justice, friendship, and
character, and that its members benefit from building relationships with
similar organizations throughout the community.
“We’re there for a reason; we’re there to give
back as a whole,” Gemmell says. “We can throw our own events, but we need to be
in full attendance at other Greek events to support them."
A commitment to academics
Delta Chi also supports its own members
academically through a system that rewards students for their academics.
Instead of punishing students who fall below a passing grade, Gemmell offers
incentives for students who excel, including prizes and other perks.
Their hard work has paid off - Delta Chi now sits
on top of a list ranking the cumulative GPA of fraternities at the university.
“We’re always trying to raise the bar in every
single way,” Gemmell says. “Academics are huge for us. We’re all here for a
reason, and that’s to get a prestigious degree and go out in the world and do
something better. We hold each other accountable.”
As Gemmell prepares to apply for law school, he is
grateful he tried something new in joining Delta Chi. In the process, he has
found a support system that has always brought out the best in him, and has
made connections that are set to last a lifetime.
“This is a lifelong commitment,” Gemmell says.
“People don’t look at the opportunities they could be offered from our alumni.
Our alumni are our base support; we always look up to them for their advice. Having
these connections gives Delti Chi members a lot more confidence and a lot more
leadership qualities no matter where life takes them.”