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Monday, December 22, 2014 | Last updated: 2:20pm

Greek Life seniors reflect on experiences at UA



As graduating seniors bid farewell to campus, sorority and fraternity members reflect on their experiences in Greek Life.

The UA’s warm weather, beautiful campus and energetic and active Greek community were all deciding factors for Blythe Tarbox, a communication senior from small-town Villanova, Pa., when she was choosing a college.

“I didn’t know anyone when I came here,” said Tarbox, secretary of Chi Omega, “I decided that I should probably [rush] and then when I went through the process, it just seemed really honestly like a great fit … There was a lot of really nice girls and stuff like that. I saw the house and I really haven’t regretted it ever since.”

Tarbox said her “little,” Ally Hellmich, has taught her that both mentor and mentee can learn from each other, regardless of age or what point in life they are at. The Big/Little program was one of the
Greek Life experiences Tarbox said has made the biggest difference in her college career.

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By Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat Engineering Sophomore Patrick Weber and Economics Senior Josh Ruder

“It’s been really positive. I’ve met a lot of really great people and I’ve been able to do a lot of cool things and opportunities that I don’t think I would caught if I wasn’t in Greek Life,” Tarbox said. “I know from freshman year to senior year I’ve gained a lot of different skills that I will need after college.”

Tarbox took the position of secretary her junior year, and has helped plan events like Homecoming and Spring Fling.

Other Greek Life members also said Greek Life was a significant experience in their college careers.

“The opportunity to lead through people who aren’t all the same, the ability to take these groups of people and convince them that what you think needs to get done, needs to get done, and finding the right path to convince them of that is, I think, a very valuable skill to have,” said Josh Ruder, a senior studying physics and economics and a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. “It’s not something that you come across very often. Having the opportunity to do that in PIKE through CATwalk is the experience that was easily the most valuable thing that I got out of the fraternity experience the past four years.”

Ruder came to the UA from San Antonio and only knew one person from his high school here. He chose to become involved in Greek Life because he thought it would improve his education and give him a memorable college experience, he said.

“Honestly, my time with PIKE has been the single most defining thing of my college experience,” Ruder said. “As much as I’ve learned through education, I think that stuff you learn outside the classroom is far more important for life experiences.”

Ruder was responsible for being a role model to Patrick Weber, a systems engineering sophomore,
member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Ruder’s little. Ruder said, over time, he and Weber became real friends, rather than just mentor and mentee. Ruder said a monumental experience, both for himself and as a way to bond with Weber, was the opportunity to plan CATwalk, a run to raise money for cancer research.

Weber has followed in Ruder’s footsteps and will be the executive director of CATwalk next semester.

“He definitely helped me out with school, thinking about my future and what classes I want to take,” Weber said. “He definitely motivates me to be a better person … Our relationship has benefited both of us — him for the opportunity to teach and lead and gain experience that way, and me, learning from his experiences as well as encouragement.”

The UA Student Alumni Association held an event to celebrate the graduation of seniors in Greek Life and boost the community’s connection with alumni.

“I feel like the alumni basis and the networking that Greek Life in general has is immensely helpful for anyone who goes through the experience,” Tarbox said. “It’s just really nice networking and knowing there’s a group of people in the organization that wherever you are in the nation, there’s always someone looking out for you and willing to help you.”

Some say the memories and influence of Greek Life will stick with members forever.

“Fraternity and sorority membership is for a lifetime,” said Johanne Ives, assistant dean of students. “Celebrating [Greek Life seniors] reminds them that this isn’t just a four year experience, but that they should stay involved with their sorority or fraternity. I think part of the reason it’s important to celebrate them is to remind them that their connection to the University of Arizona and their fraternity or sorority is for a lifetime.”


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