Wabash Men Learn Leadership Over Breakby Mark Shreve '04 • March 21, 2005
We live in an era which places college fraternities among negative stereotypes. Over spring break, however, a group of Wabash students aimed to reverse that image by traveling to Mexico for an alternative spring break. As the College was sending groups of students to Europe, South America, and across the country, twelve freshmen took an "immersion trip" of their own to become better leaders at Wabash and in their fraternity.
Twelve newly-initiated members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to participate in the week-long Cabo Alpha Leadership Academy. The academy was originally formed to bring members from chapters across the nation to learn from other chapters and fraternity alumni.
The Wabash chapter was one of 15 from across the nation who gathered to hear businessmen, academics, scientists, and government officials provide advice on how to enrich their college experience, the strength of the fraternity chapter, and their future careers and lives.
"After seeing the success of other brothers and the support they were giving us, I truly understand the greatest joy in life comes from helping others, which is what our fraternity is all about," said Michael Belanger ’08.
Cabo Alpha was created and hosted by Jerry Nelson, co-founder of Ticketmaster and many other business ventures. Nelson has been a leader with the national fraternity since his days at UCLA. Currently, Nelson allows the students to relax and enjoy the Mexico sunshine with one condition — they must show up for the leadership sessions.
For four hours each day, the Phi Psi undergrads were in leadership training sessions. In addition to Nelson and other fraternity alumni, Cabo Alpha hosts special guest speakers for each session. Paul Wineman, a professional negotiator for large corporate clients, Scott Noble, owner of Noble Royalties Inc., and James Blazer, president of Phi Kappa Psi national fraternity, visited the resort to share their experiences.
Cabo is certainly not all work and no play. The training sessions end in the early afternoon, which allowed the students to explore Mexico and the white-sand beaches.
"The leadership skills and the knowledge I obtained from the seminars alone made the trip worthwhile. The clubs, parties, and location were all merely a bonus that added to the overall excellence of the week," said Matt Motycka ’08.
These men are treated like celebrities — they are provided with their own transportation, their meals are served to them, and they don’t pay a dime for their rooms in the resort which typically caters to wealthy tourists looking to relax in the sun.
"It was the greatest week of my life," said Brian Weil ’08. "The things I saw, the things I did, the people I met, and the places I went will stay with me forever. I can safely say that I maximized my time down there, and I don't think I can say that honestly about any other moment in my life."
Shreve is Wabash College's Assistant Director of Annual Giving.
At top: Back row: Matt Maher, Luke Odom, Ben Bly, Brian Weil, Micahel Belanger, Ben Thrall, Josh Harris, John Garrett. Front row: John Holmes, Matt Motycka, Nick Leon, Chris Haskell
Lower left: The resort at Cabo Alpha offers every amenity.