My speech for Epsilon Delta’s first Senior Showcase on April 21, honoring graduating seniors and allowing them to impart a few words of farewell:

For those who were around for my original Philosophy of Life speech, they might remember what brought me to Phi Sigma Pi. I lost one of my close friends from high school over the summer between freshman and sophomore year. He was killed by a drunk driver barely a month before I returned to Tampa. Already homesick, I didn’t want to be in Orlando anymore but I also hadn’t quite found my niche in Tampa. But then I went to a PhiSig information session.

I was lucky enough to rush PhiSig with two of my best friends. I would like to say that I would have done it without them anyways, but I don’t know if that is true – it was intimidating! I don’t think I could have done a lot these past four years without Melanie and Suzannah, I can’t imagine life without them. They have seen every part of me, literally and figuratively. S&M has grown so close that sometimes I am the only one who can translate the weird sounds Melanie makes into actual speech and there have been countless nights that I have crawled into Suzannah’s bed because I was either being anxious or because we thought a demon was possessing some part of the apartment – including the dishwasher, Suz’s bathroom and Melanie.

Having been friends with so many Brothers before we actually became Brothers (Katie, Gopal, Mike, Amit) doesn’t mean that I didn’t gain some amazing people from PhiSig either. My Big is one of my favorite people in the world. We are definitely Big & Little though – she’s taken care of me in more situations than I would like to admit (though she’s also gotten me into some trouble every now and then). I got a beautiful Little out of the deal too – I don’t know what I am going to do when Emilia moves next month. I guess I’ll have to bum a ride to London (is that even possible?!)

So many of my favorite college memories are somehow directly or indirectly connected to PhiSig. In 50 years, when I think back to college, I will remember the sunset over Lake Louisa and romping through the woods during Omicron Class retreat and how great it felt just to be alive. I will remember waking up with the sun and grumpily trudging to service events like Stampede of Service and how great it was afterwards, how accomplished I felt. I will even remember kicking my car because a Brother had made me angry and crying at JBoard – because not every single one of my PhiSig memories are the greatest, but they have all helped shaped who I am.

When I originally gave my Philosophy of Life speech, I talked about how I believe our choices define who we are and what we will get out of life. A lot of life is left up to chance, we have definitely learned that over the past four years, but your choice lies in how you handle things and what you do with your experiences. I still believe this and to go further, I think the greatest choice we have is whether or not to love and to open our hearts to as many people as possible.

PhiSig has allowed me to do that. It has given me experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise and it has brought so many people into my life that I probably would not have met or even talked to otherwise. My Brothers have been there for me through so much – you all have made me laugh, some of you have made me cry, you have put up with my life crisises and wiped my tears, you have cheered me up and held my hair and always made sure I had enough snacks not to get hangry at anything.

Over the past month, I have been reminded how much my Brothers will do for me. When my Grandma passed away a month ago Wednesday, I got so much support from everyone but especially from my roommates and from Gopal as he dealt with me freaking out about needing to go to JBoard and all the events I was missing. I got so many texts expressing care and concern, especially like the one from Cesar which I still have saved. And then there’s Katie, who helped pick up the pieces when I thought my life was falling apart two weeks ago (but she’s always been there doing that). She let me cry in her office and took me to dinner and rallied around ole’ emotionally unstable me.

At Inductions a couple of weeks ago, I had never felt so bittersweet during a ritual before. I was so happy for our new Brothers, because I hope they get the same experiences out of PhiSig and college as me. I also remember feeling so safe standing in a circle among my Brothers. Here are people who know so much about me and no matter how hurt or helpless we feel, when we stand together, we can get through anything.

During ritual, we are described as “lonely pilgrims,” and oftentimes in life it is easy to fill like a lonely pilgrim, but with your Brothers by your side, you never really are.

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