Joe Ralston '92

A big Thank-You to Joe Ralston ’92 for sharing his thoughts on his Sigma Chi experience after nearly 27 years.

Q: Why did you choose Sigma Chi over others at Maryland? What made it different?

A: The summer before entering The University of Maryland, I ran into a high school buddy who was a Sig at UMD. He had been a year ahead of me at Gonzaga College High School in DC, and we played sports together throughout. He named fraternity brothers whom I knew from high school, and as I listened to him talk about Sigma Chi, it all seemed familiar: the camaraderie, the friendships, the concept of “brotherhood”, and our shared passion for athletic competition. My friend’s recruitment of me into Sigma Chi was easy. I only rushed Sigma Chi, but not because I was confident that I would get a bid.  I most certainly was not over-confident. I simply knew that I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Q: What is your advice for future generations of Brothers?

A: When I was interviewing brothers as a pledge at Sigma Chi, there was a common “dirty” word that almost every brother mentioned. They always talked about how much they detested “apathy” in the fraternity. As a pledge and a JA, I was told that every brother must make every effort to come down to the house and help out when asked, wear their fraternity letters on campus, and participate in as many sporting events as possible in order to help maintain the athletic legacy that our house held at that time. Most brothers did those things, sometimes with enthusiasm, and sometimes begrudgingly. Like so many brothers whom I admired, I realized that doing the “bare minimum” was not going to be enough for me. In that respect, I discovered a greater purpose that I could pursue; a way to be useful to the brotherhood, while gaining something for myself in return.

From initiation to graduation, I held as many elected (or appointed) offices as possible, and I worked hard to make a difference while doing them. In return, I was developing life skills that I could not learn in the same manner in any classroom on campus. I was polishing my public speaking and negotiating skills. I was learning patience, and the art of compromise. I was navigating my own way through the often-difficult task of guiding a group of people toward a common goal. What I was learning was how to be a leader. When pledges asked for my interview, I didn’t talk about apathy, I talked about “purpose”.

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