For Greek students, the end of school means an end to the time they’ve spent with their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. For Miguel Vasquez, reflection on his time with Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity leads to thoughts of his start at the University of Idaho, and of his future.
“I come from an immigrant family background,” Vasquez said. “Graduating high school, to my family, that was a big accomplishment already. Growing up, I was seeing that a diploma from high school wasn’t enough to get a good job, that you had to go beyond that.”
Vasquez was encouraged to enroll at UI by his brother, an architecture graduate. During his first year, he was approached by members of Sigma Lambda Beta.
“There’s other Latino-based fraternities on campus, but this one stood out the most just because of the leadership and academics and the brotherhood it represented,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said among other things, he was initially impressed by SLB’s graduation rate — more than 90 percent of SLB fraternity brothers have graduated since the chapter’s establishment in 2003. He also felt attracted to SLB over other Greek houses, because he felt they made the greatest effort to welcome him, and that initial outreach led to stronger bonds with his fraternity brothers and SLB alumni.
“I got to meet some of the brothers that graduated before me that I didn’t know, and I was able to get an internship with one of them in the finance sector,” Vasquez said “I talked to him, we bonded right away, and he said ‘I’ll talk to the people here and let them know you’re interested,’ and sure enough, I got the internship there.”
Leadership and philanthropy were also important in Vasquez’s decision to join SLB. He had been involved in different high school activities, and was also a member of some student groups at UI. None of those groups, particularly other Greek houses, called to him like SLB did.
“I saw them as leaders on campus, not just Greek members like you see walking around with their letters,” Vasquez said. “They actually emphasized what they were, the academics and actually doing the events that they have throughout the year. They’re actually helping out the community and helping others and not just partying on the weekends and getting wasted.”
Vasquez joined SLB during his freshman year, and quickly set out to improve himself and take on as many responsibilities as possible. Throughout his three years with SLB, he served as director of events, recruitment chair and chapter president. Vasquez sought out leadership positions, and even worked to improve cooperation between SLB and other multicultural Greek chapters, like Lambda Theta Phi.
“Within the Latino-based community they have that atmosphere where, you guys are whatnot, and we’re Sigma Lambda Beta, and we don’t get along,” Vasquez said. “I don’t want people to think we have that rivalry, we’re not about that. So I talked with the members there and was like, ‘how about doing an event with another fraternity?’ They liked that idea, and sure enough we had a dance with them and it turned out successful.”
Vasquez co-founded the Hispanic Business Student Association to bridge the gap between the networking benefits of being in a fraternity, and the students in the Hispanic community who needed those benefits but were unsure that Greek life was for them. Through HBSA’s Networking Night, a special prelude event to the UI Career Fair, members were able to meet with other students and potential employers from around the region, and several walked away with internships.
“As minorities and Latinos, some students are kind of intimidated to network with other students,” Vasquez said. “I saw the need for a new club.”
Now that he is graduating, Vasquez has lined up a job as a team leader with ConAgra Foods. He said he is prepared for the job largely because of his leadership experiences in SLB, and said he is looking forward to the chance to go out into the workforce. He also has plans to continue to improve networking between Hispanic students and potential employers, and said he might one day return to school for a master’s degree
“I feel good,” Vasquez said. “There’s a lot doors that could be opened, it’s just up to me to see if I want to open them or not.”
Daniel Durand can be reached at email@example.com