The NIC’s Undergraduate Award of Distinction recognizes fraternity men who, throughout in their collegiate experience, have found an outlet for development as both a leader and a better man. They are exemplary members of their organizations and serve their brothers, campuses and fraternity/sorority communities with humble confidence.
Congratulations to the 2018 Undergraduate Award of Distinction recipients! Browse below to learn more about each honoree.
ZETA BETA TAU, PURDUE UNIVERSITY
“Doug Abramowitz has proven himself as one of the very best that Zeta Beta Tau and Purdue University have to offer,” said one nominator. “He is the definition of a fraternity man and a leader. He leads by example in all facets of his life and inspires others to be better.” Since Doug was elected to the Interfraternity Council (IFC) Executive Board he has been a driving force for community health, safety and responsibility initiatives. His work is grounded in improving the overall quality and long-term sustainability of the fraternity and sorority experience. Doug helped lead the re-design and implementation of the peer monitoring group, Safety and Risk Management Authority (SARMA), the implementation of the hard alcohol ban in chapter facilities and the transition from university adjudication to a self-governed council judicial model. He has consistently shown the willingness and ability to address complex issues and do what is necessary to advance the fraternity and sorority community. As a student, Doug maintains a 3.4 GPA in one of the top professional flight programs in America and has accepted a position as a commercial pilot to begin in summer 2018.
PI KAPPA PHI, MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY
As president of his Pi Kappa Phi chapter, Connor developed a “score card” system that helped the chapter see the measurable outcomes from its operations and streamline processes to increase efficiency. As a result, during his term the chapter had the highest GPA in its history. Connor also developed and implemented an Emerging Leaders Program within the chapter to provide skill development to potential leaders. His impact on the fraternity has been significant and lasting. The chapter received Missouri State’s Chapter of the Year award from the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and was recognized as a top 12 chapter within Pi Kappa Phi. Connor maintained an impressive level of involvement within the chapter as past President. He has served as Social Chair, working diligently to eliminate high-risk situations and unregistered events, and he currently serves as Scholarship Chair. In this role, Connor has developed a Scholarship Opportunity Class, in which men who are not meeting the fraternity’s GPA expectations can attend to develop successful study habits, learn from other brothers through an academic mentorship program, and show their commitment to themselves and the fraternity. His commitment has resulted in being the only brother to receive the chapter Member of the Year award twice. Connor also received the Fraternity and Sorority Life Outstanding Fraternity Sophomore Award, Outstanding Fraternity Junior Award, and most recently, the Man of the Year Award out of the more than 1,500 men in the IFC community.
SIGMA NU, EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
“Of the many students I’ve worked with, this was one of the most natural recommendations I’ve had the privilege to write,” said one nominator. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with Rhys Collins and look forward to watching him continue to grow as an integral leader in the community.” Rhys has served as a chapter and Interfraternity Council President (IFC) during a year of “turmoil and shift” in culture at East Carolina University. He has supported the IFC community to create positive change through four chapter closures, media scrutiny, three staff transitions, and additional hurdles. Rhys hasn’t shied away from a challenge; he has provided leadership for the IFC Executive Board and its chapters with the message that everyone needs to do better and progress takes work. He supports other leaders and has done an incredible job calling people up to the plate, mentoring them, and encouraging them to “be the change.” His structure and inspiration have turned the community around with a new sense of purpose. He’s helped campus organizations understand accountability and safety, ensuring stronger brotherhood and increased sustainability of ECU chapters. Rhys is involved in multiple capacities across campus and its organizations and community are “lucky to have his honesty and integrity as a leader.”
LAMBDA THETA PHI, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA
hrough his leadership and contributions to the campus and fraternity and sorority community, Juan Hernandez has made positive changes and is leaving his mark on his university.
As President of the Lambda Theta Phi colony at University of Northern Iowa, he has been integral to the group’s successes. The colony has partnered with several organizations on campus that provide cultural and educational programs in the campus community. Lambda Theta Phi was one of a group of organizations that planned the university’s first Latino Heritage Month, a campus-wide celebration. Juan also serves on the university’s Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Committee that provides education and trains peer leaders. He is also part of the Diversity Fund Committee, which reviews grant requests of funds for diversity-related campus programs, and he has worked with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to host the first campus-wide Multicultural Greek Showcase. He gives generously of his time as an English Teaching Assistant at the local YWCA and also serves as an Ethnic Student Promoter in the nearby greater Cedar Falls and Waterloo communities in Iowa.
ACACIA, ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY
Currently President of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Illinois State University, Ramiro Jimenez has been an exceptional leader for the campus community and innovator in his approach to enhancing the fraternity experience. Soon after his initiation into Acacia in 2015, Ramiro began taking on leadership roles within the organization, serving first as Service Chair. He was able to show brothers the joy of serving others through organizing service projects that directly give back to the community, like partnering with elderly homeowners to complete outside chores and creating partnerships with local agencies such as the Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity. Ramiro also served his chapter as House Manager and IFC Delegate. Through the latter role, he built relationships with other chapters and his constant reliability led him to become a member of the IFC cabinet, then IFC VP of Programming and most recently IFC President. Throughout these opportunities, Ramiro created trust amongst the fraternity community and showcased his personal integrity. He is also a proud member of the campus Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
OTHA “TRE“ NELSON
SIGMA NU, NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY
“Tre, as he is called on campus, is without a doubt one of our most active, engaged and well-rounded students at NSU,” said one nominator. His resume speaks for itself, highlighting involvement and accomplishments such as Student Body President, Greek Man of the Year, Homecoming King, and Mr. Northwestern State University. He accumulated a consistent record of service and leadership to his chapter, including serving as Vice President, Social Chairman, Alumni Relations Chairman, and Housing Chairman. He has also served Sigma Nu Fraternity on the national level as a collegiate member of the board of directors and the lone student voice on the LEAD Advisory Committee. For two years, he lobbied for the fraternity/sorority experience on Capitol Hill, and he served as the national student board member of the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee. “Tre is truly a fraternity man of distinction, not just at Northwestern State, but with his work on Capitol Hill and in Sigma Nu Fraternity,” another nominator said. Throughout his fraternity involvement, Tre has shown an “impressive ability to consider complex and broad issues through the lens of the larger community and to offer perspective on behalf of all chapters and undergraduates.”
ALPHA GAMMA RHO, IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
As Interfraternity Council (IFC) President, Mike Poggemiller committed to being accessible and approachable for all chapter Presidents. He brought his “energy and positive attitude to the emerging leaders of the community,” said one nominator. Mike served as his chapter’s Public Relations Chair, Secretary and newsletter editor. In 2017, he was selected as one of four collegiate members to serve as Undergraduate Directors on Alpha Gamma Rho’s national board of directors. “Perhaps, the most significant contribution from Mike Poggemiller comes from his drive to do what is right, even when it is not popular,” said a campus nominator. “With growing enrollment at Iowa State, we have seen an increase in high-risk drinking by students the weekend before school starts in the fall semester. Mike knew this and was committed to cultivating a change.” Under his leadership, the IFC moved their New Member Symposium to the Saturday before school. By hosting the event on this day, Mike led an educational program for the newest members of the community, removed them from a high-risk opportunity, and welcomed them to the community. “This decision was not welcomed by every chapter or member of our community. In fact, Mike took some heat from his peers about this decision, but at the end of the day, he knew this is what needed to be done to be the community we want to be.”
SIGMA PHI EPSILON, KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
“Lucas has been an incredible IFC President,” said one nominator. “He has added structure and motivated the board, as well as inspired the 26 chapter presidents to engage in tough conversations.” In May 2017, the university dissolved the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and moved the advisors to another office, leaving the council and its chapters without direct advisory support. At a difficult time for campus fraternities and sororities, Lucas led the IFC in incorporating alumni perspective into decisions, securing the IFC’s finances, and setting up an alumni mentorship board. Lucas kept it together and made the community stronger. Additionally, Lucas was elected by his peers to represent the College of Business on the Student Governing Association Student Senate. He also was involved with the K-State Alumni Association’s Student Homecoming Committee. Another nominator wrote, “Lucas’s integrity, dedication and investment in the fraternity community will serve as a model for future leaders in the years ahead.”
SIGMA PHI EPSILON, UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO
It is clear why so many members of the fraternity and sorority community at The University of Toledo find Patrick “Pat” Ryan to be a mentor and role model. Over the past year he has served as his chapter’s President, a member of Blue Key and Mortar Board, and has continued his passionate support for Veterans Matter. He is someone who believes there is never a shortage of time in a day when you are working on your passions. “He is the true definition of a servant leader and empowers fellow students to become leaders in their own right,” said one nominator. During Pat’s term as Sigma Phi Epsilon President, he had to navigate several challenges. “He was always able to advocate for his members’ concerns and excitements while also recognizing how best the community can move forward,” said another nominator.
BETA THETA PI, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
According to one nominator, Jack Schimpf is a, “man of integrity. He steadfastly chooses accountability over popularity and has earned a high degree of moral authority as a result.” During his time as Beta Theta Pi Chapter President, Jack oversaw tremendous change within his chapter and community, and continues to work to ensure fraternities are taking the action needed to improve. Jack was at the forefront of bold leadership when he helped successfully transition his historic chapter house to a substance-free facility and worked to root out some of the misconceptions of fraternity alive within his own chapter. Jack has worked and continues to work to challenge the norms in his community by serving on committees about conduct processes, University policy, and more. Jack serves as a poised and mature voice advocating for the change all fraternities must undergo. Another nominator said, “He has the wisdom and courage to know and do what is right, even when it’s hard.”
PHI GAMMA DELTA, SAM HOUSTON STATE UNIVERSITY
At Sam Houston State, Justin Whitaker served as President of his FIJI chapter as well as Order of Omega. He also served on the Interfraternity Council (IFC) executive board as the Recruitment Chairman and won the university’s highest undergraduate award for his work within the fraternity and sorority community and the greater campus community. One nominator said, “Justin gives 110 percent to every position he holds.” Under his leadership, his chapter not only grew and raised its GPA, but also put on its most successful philanthropic event ever for the Shriners Hospital for Children. Additionally, the chapter co-hosted and collaborated with the Project Sunshine organization for the first-ever Sammy Gives Sunshine event. It brought in more than 500 students to help make handwritten cards, stuffed bears, and toys, as well as put together hundreds of care packages for children in hospitals all around the country. Justin is certainly leaving his organization in a better place than when he joined.