The Teke Sitdown: John Broadway
The 2018 Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. TKE Leadership Academy is fast approaching. In support of this, we reached into THE TEKE Archives to re-share this great story. The Leadership Academy is made possible thanks to the generous donations of Fraters all over TKE Nation. By donating to the TKE Educational Foundation in support of the Leadership Academy, you are supporting TKE's premier leadership training program for young Fraters preparing for the challenges of leadership - in their chapters, on their campuses and in their communities.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of THE TEKE magazine featuring ESPNU play-by-play anouncer Anish Shroff. Be sure to get the latest issue of THE TEKE by signing up for Life Loyal Teke or by visiting www.TKE.org/THETEKE
At the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Leadership Academy this past summer, Frater John Broadway from the Delta-Theta chapter at California State University, Long Beach left a lasting impression on facilitators and participants. He was attentive, bright, and always, no matter the situation, flashing a smile. On the façade, Broadway appeared to be the typical participant that the Academy attracts: hardworking, motivated and destined to become a leader—which he is. However, it’s his journey to Tau Kappa Epsilon and commitment to change the perception of the Greek community that has landed him THE TEKE Sitdown.
What is your personal story?
My story is that of someone who has persevered through adversity and demonstrated a relentless drive to accomplish my goals. I was denied from CSU, Long Beach three times before getting in on my fourth try. It was a case of poor academics in high school and a couple mistakes as a kid—run-ins with the law. There weren’t a lot of options moving forward. Despite my position in life, I kept my head down and continued to work toward earning my education. I love to write, and I believe I have a story worth sharing. “A young, African American student takes advantage of the opportunities provided by his fraternity to redefine the perception of the Greek community,” that’s my story.
What makes your TKE story unique?
My story isn’t about someone who was hesitant about joining a fraternity. Ever since I first met the men of the chapter, I knew there was a brotherhood with a support system that could help me accomplish my goals, and in return, better the Fraternity. I knew that given the opportunity to learn through opportunities presented by Tau Kappa Epsilon that I could take the investment placed in me and pay it forward.
Furthermore, my story is not the one you see on the news that is either damning the Greek community or promoting a fundraiser or community service event. My TKE story is an example of what happens when a student who had no direction, no hope and no real opportunity is presented with the choice to succeed. Without Tau Kappa Epsilon, I can’t say that I would be where I am. This is the story of how the Fraternity truly helps students become leaders.
Ultimately, I hope that my story isn’t that unique in the sense that other people are getting the same positive impact from a fraternity in their life as well.
How has the Fraternity’s educational programming helped you personally, professionally and fraternally?
Province Educational Conferences (now Province Forums) and Regional Leadership Conferences have helped me personally by allowing me to network with collegiate members from other chapters and alumni who have accomplished so much. Everyone has a story to share, but you can only learn from those lessons if you listen. Their experiences have given me a worldly understanding far beyond anything I would have been able to acquire on my own at this point in my life.
Professionally speaking, by interacting with members who have earned success in their particular field, I have more confidence in my own abilities. Obviously there is a networking factor, but learning your value creates more opportunities than people can imagine.
Fraternally, it has strengthened the bond I share with other members. Instantly knowing the connection shared when meeting collegiate and alumni members is a powerful feeling. It’s knowing that you’ve taken the same oath and for the most part shared a number of the same experiences. More than anything else, it’s our shared commitment to building Better Men for a Better World.
Diversity is a hot topic in the Greek community. What is your perception of the issue?
As far as diversity in the Greek community goes, I understand that not every fraternity and sorority exhibits a strong amount of diversity, but I’m lucky enough to be part of a TKE chapter that is very mixed in its membership. Diversity in any organization, not just the Greek community, drives the acceptance of new perspectives. It challenges people to understand new ideas and ways of thinking. From my experience, our level of diversity in our chapter has helped our members handle the truth that no two individuals share the same background, experiences and/or beliefs.
Over the summer, you wrote a strong piece in The Odyssey challenging the negative perception of fraternities and sororities as shown by the media. What made you write the piece?
What inspired me to write this story is the perpetual negative portrayal of Greek organizations in the media and movies. Whether it’s the movie “Animal House” or another television show, there’s a common theme of fraternities being breeding grounds for binge drinking college men. In reality, there are countless hours of community service work and dollars being raised for meaningful philanthropic organizations. I matched my personal experiences with hard statistics and made the best argument possible that fraternities and sororities don’t deserve the negative stigma.
How do you feel members, chapters and Greek organizations can better their position with the media?
It comes down to caring more about our image. It’s evident that there is a microscope examining every move made by collegiate and alumni members. Now it’s time to take responsibility. When the poor choices of a member make their way to the news, it’s not the individual being reported on. Instead, headlines say, ‘member of Tau Kappa Epsilon’ did so and so. We need more of those headlines to report on the work of chapters and colonies supporting their community through fundraising, volunteering and serving as role models.
What are your personal goals for the future?
My goal for the future is to become an established journalist for an online publication like The Atlantic or Huffington Post. I would also like to get involved with screen writing as well. Whatever I do, I want to have an actual purpose of advancing the issues that are important. Writers have the ability to create more change than they know. That’s why each negative post has such an effect on the overall view of the Greek community. Fraternities and sororities need someone with an outlet in their corner. I’d like to be that fighter.
Registration for Regional Leadership Conferences is now open. Why should college and alumni members both attend?
RLCs offer every collegiate and alumni member the opportunity to better themselves personally, professionally and fraternally. At such a low cost, the value offered isn’t something found at any other event. Members have the ability to tailor tracks to their interests, which further increases the value of the program. Overall, the amount that students and alumni can take away is unbelievable. Also, its a fun experience and I feel like the fraternity experience is incomplete without attending one of these at least once. It is always a good thing to surround yourself with other ambitious leaders and learners.
What’s the last word?
Every member of the Fraternity has the ability to improve the image of the Greek community. Whether you are wearing your letters or not, every action is a representation of Tau Kappa Epsilon. It’s important to never forget that. Ultimately, it’s even more important to understand that we all have the power to control our future. I made poor choices when I was younger, but I learned from those choices. Tau Kappa Epsilon gave me a choice to better myself. I took those lessons and applied them in my everyday actions, and I’ll continue to apply them every single day, because Better Men for a Better World isn’t something we say, it’s what we do.