“Rush”

By fellow brother Cameron Plunkett

I do not know why we call it “rush” if it lasts four full weeks. “Rush” implies quickness, hastiness, the kind of thing that is over quickly. 27 events, hundreds of hours of community service—that does not seem like something that could be rushed even if we wanted to. And of course, we do not want to at all. We want to savor every moment of it, from the eager look on the faces of several dozen rushees crammed into a too-small room, united in their commitment to service, to the mountains of sandwiches being slowly depleted as we pass them out by hand in the middle of the night on Skid Row. Maybe that is why it is called rush: because no matter how long it lasts, it still feels like it is over too soon.

I love rush. I’m sure that pretty much everybody does. How could you not? It is, after all, the first impression you will get of the group of people you will soon be calling “brother.” There is something a little beautiful about that, and that bit of beauty is a big reason why so many people love rush. But to me, one of the greatest aspects of rush is also one of the most forgotten.

The unfortunate fact is that not everybody that rushes joins. Some people cannot find the time in their schedule to come to enough events. Some come to rush with no intension of joining, content just to do a few service projects and be done with it. Some discover over the course of rush that APO is simply not for them. And it is easy, once pledging begins, to forget about these people, when the chapter is caught up in welcoming, helping, and bonding with our newest members. But I believe that the impression left on them is one of the most positive products of rush. Even if you do not join APO, you cannot forget the appreciation a kid showed you as you spent a day at USC with them, tutoring and playing and sharing. Those kinds of memories are the things that stick with rushees long after rush is actually over, spurring them on to perform service throughout their life.

And I guess that is why the name “rush” still does not make sense to me. The events end too quickly, but the memories last forever.

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I HEAΓD IT FROM AN AΓ — “Who We Are”

AG Guys and GirlsPeople say that every pledge class is unique with its own “personality.”

In the past, the Alpha Kappa Chapter here at USC has had a variety of pledge class personalities, from loud and boisterous, to calm and poised, to fun-loving and silly. After rushing for APO, I remember that everyone was curious about how my pledge class, the Alpha Gammas, would be like. As I gazed at the group of 24 strangers around me, I couldn’t help but wonder the same.

To be perfectly honest, I found myself more nervous around my p-bros than actives in the beginning of the semester. With the exception of a few people, I barely knew my fellow Alpha Gammas. Everyone in our pledge class just seemed so different—we had completely disparate backgrounds, interests, friend groups, lifestyles, everything. Some of us were from as far as Taiwan, while others had never even seen the ocean. Some of us listened to strictly EDM or Top 40 while others rejected mainstream music. Some of us dreamt of becoming powerful CEOs and others wanted to open a cute little coffee shop. But there was one amazing thing we all had in common: a passion for serving the community, and that’s precisely how our brotherhood was forged.

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Pledge Class Service Event – LATC Gardening

Over time, I learned that my pledge brothers are some of the kindest, most selfless and open-minded people I have ever met. Through working and spending time with each one individually, I have discovered their generous spirit as well as their quirky nature. I will never forget when Joe sprinted across the street to help an elderly man lift up his heavy cart. That Carmen is consistently the first to volunteer in our Facebook chat when other people need help. How Jaime and John always hilariously lighten up the mood with their playful bickering and teasing.

Now that we have completed this amazing semester and successfully crossed together, I am beginning to realize the personality of our pledge class. The 25 of us are all very independent—outside of APO, we each have our own hobbies, social calendars, and career goals. Yet, when we come together, we are able to set everything aside and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Therefore, if I had to describe our class collectively in three words, it would be: amicable, trustworthy, and sincere. With these three characteristics, we are like a group of old friends that can always pick up right where we left off. We can act silly, go crazy, share our wildest dreams—and no one will ever judge. From the bottom of my heart, I know that my p-bros are behind me 100%. That is a beautiful thing.

AG Initiation

Truly in LFS,
Alina

Vannessa’s Farewell

It’s the end of another semester in APO. But for me, this also marks the end of my time in Alpha Phi Omega as an undergraduate. In thinking about what graduating from USC and leaving APO means for me, I can’t help but reminisce on what being in this organization for the past three years has done.

Coming to USC, I was a very quiet, shy, and heavily introverted person. I had no free time and would rather spend my nights studying my books than going out. But my sophomore year, I wanted to change that. I wanted to see what more I could do with my college experience. I had never heard of APO, but I will never forget that enormous sea of blue rush shirts at the Involvement Fair my spring semester.

Chi Class Spring 2011

I was never one to want to get to know people, but being a part of the rush population forced me to get out of my comfort zone and open up to others. This experience was magnified even more when I officially pledged in Spring 2011, Chi class. I learned to be comfortable in having small talk with others; I learned to not be afraid in expressing myself and my interests. I learned to make friends.

From then on, I continued to take the steps of being part of a new family. I have also had the fortune of being on Executive Board in each of the six semesters I’ve been in APO. From pledging I wanted to prove my worth and commitment to my class from the get-go; so I became the Chi Class Secretary. The semester after that in Fall 2011 I was Psi Class’ Sergeant-at-Arms. Spring 2012, Omega semester, I was the Rush Co-Chair, and thankfully was able to reprise that position the following semester with the Alpha Alpha class. For Spring 2013, I was elected President of our chapter. This past semester I served as the President Emeritus. Being in all these positions helped me bring out the courage that was buried deep inside me, a strength I honestly didn’t even know I had. I learned how to use my voice and be comfortable with speaking in front of a large audience every week. Each semester I wanted to do my job to the best of my ability. I kept asking myself, “What more can I do to benefit this organization? How can I contribute my heart and drive to help my brothers move forward?” I could only hope that through my work I was able to accomplish those desires. That’s what APO does to you. If you’re committed enough, it challenges you. It brings out the best in you. It changes you into a person who is better than you ever thought you could become. It broadens your horizons, makes you more cognizant of the human condition, and makes you realize that you have importance in this world. That you do make a difference; and I can attest that APO has definitely done all these things for me.

Alpha Alpha Westwood Invasion

Alpha Alpha Westwood Invasion

For the brothers reading this, know that I will miss you greatly. You all don’t know the kind of impact you have made in my life, and this is honestly something I cannot express adequately in words. You were the ones who helped me come out of my shell and be more sociable. You gave me your shoulder to cry on when I was repeatedly in my lowest moments. You made me laugh and smile to brighten my day and helped me remember that everything would be okay. The best days of my life have been with you guys.

I know a lot of you because I either checked you into meetings every week, or coordinated a welcoming rush experience for you. And in having you guys as co-workers, classmates, mentees, you all have become a very integral part of my life. In constantly seeing you, interacting with you, sharing with you, going places with you, accomplishing goals with you, you all have become my family. And in seeing so many of you guys rise up to become our organization’s leaders, you don’t know how much that makes me smile. I am too happy to see your dedication and love in this organization grow to different levels. Everything that you do to take the principles of LFS to your very core, inspiring others to do the same…it just makes me really proud!

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So, thank you to everyone. Thank you Psi class. Thank you Omega class. Thank you Alpha Alphas. Thank you Alpha Betas. And of course, shout out to my Chi bro Jeff Su! Thank you for literally being the best pledge brother ever and sticking around with me this far! And to the Alpha Gammas, many congratulations to you on being initiated as full-fledged brothers of our chapter. I hope that you never lose sight of what drew you to this organization. That you’ll continue to be inspired by your brothers and do what you can to make an impact on APO.

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Alpha Phi Omega is too big a part of my life that I can’t leave it forever. I promise, I will definitely come back as an alumna! But until then, you all take care. Take care of yourselves. Take care of your fraternity. Take care of your community. Please, don’t think of our motto as just repeated words you say every week but take them to heart, as words you can and should definitely live by.

I can’t thank you guys enough for your presence in my life, but I’ll say it one more time. Thank you, my brothers. Thank you, my family. I’ll miss you guys so much, but I love you dearly.

Forever in Leadership,
Forever in Friendship,
Forever in Service,
Forever Your Brother,

Vanessa

Welcome Our Faculty Advisor Jakita Morgan!

Jakita Morgan

We are more than blessed to welcome our new faculty advisor, Jakita Morgan!

A born and bred Angelino and the oldest of a family of four, Jakita is currently the office manager for the Undergraduate Student Government. She’s been working at USC for almost 14 years. She started working with USC back in 2001 with the Payroll Office, then with the Alumni Develop Office and now USG. Jakita has always been a valued member of the Trojan Family and now we are so glad she’s part of the APO family, hooray!

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Working with USC certainly has its perks. One of Jakita’s favorite memories was when President Obama came to USC to speak. Needless to say, it was a giant crowd–there were several different tiers of VIP that filled up the space in front of Doheny and McCarthy quad (where his speech was streamed live). Jakita was able to get very close, in the second tier VIP section, where she was within close proximity to hearing our nation’s leader speak. It was a glorious day in USC history and for Jakita.

So, exactly how lucky we are to have her? In just the first few weeks of being faculty advisor, as we were in the midst of planning for our Benefit Concert, Jakita was able to secure funding for us from the Graduate Student Government. Because of her help, it took A LOT of pressure off of our fundraising efforts. Several other organizations have asked her to be their faculty advisors but she declined because she didn’t see the fit in playing the role for those organizations. Luckily for us, our lovely President Michelle Kang works closely with her at the USG office. Through Michelle, Jakita has heard many great stories about who we are and what we are about. So, when Michelle asked Jakita, she didn’t even hesitate because of the great work that APO does.

“I just want it to be one of the best student groups. There’s so much potential there. I want to help reach that,” said Jakita when asked of what her vision for APO is. In addition, Jakita hopes to be involved with APO to understand the in’s and out’s of how we function, allowing her to publicize and strengthen APO’s ties to the USC student body. She wants to be as helpful as she can– and APO thanks her for all of her efforts!

Jakita works at the USG office at TCC 224, Monday through Friday. Be sure to stop by the office to say hi to our lovely new advisor!

Benefit Concert for Monday Night Mission–Ryan Ochoa

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On Friday, November 22nd, we held our annual benefit concert at Ground Zero Performance Café. The money raised will be donated to Monday Night Mission, a nonprofit organization that works to provide meals, blankets and other necessities to the homeless population on Skid Row. There was a wonderful lineup that consisted of Clara C, Drew Tabor, Shawn Halim and Katie Stump.

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Shawn Halim Music started the show off on a good foot by pumping the crowd up with their infectious sound. Next, Katie Stump’s captivating voice demonstrated her beautiful song-writing skills. Drew Tabor (who has an amazing Super Bass cover on Youtube) has an infectious voice and played the guitar beautifully. The star of the night was Clara C, a YouTube artist that became popular after winning various competitions. You can check out all of these artists on Youtube, which I would highly recommend.

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I personally had a blast working on the committee. I was specifically a part of the public relations committee and our goal was to get as many people as possible to know about the concert. Thanks to our wonderful chair, Joanne Zhu, we were able to get featured on the Daily Trojan as well as the kiosk located near Campus Center. This combined with social media efforts as well as spreading flyers around campus led to an extremely successful turnout, even with the chilly rain. I think this was a good experience partially because I was able to see all the work that goes into planning an event. Every detail was carefully thought over and executed amazingly. From ordering CPK for the band, to getting tables in order to fundraise, to calling numerous companies in order to get donations to actually getting an artist as big as Clara C to perform, the committee devoted countless hours to planning this event.

A memorable part of the night for me was sitting at a table with Clara and some other people from the committee. What surprised me was how normal she was. She was checking her phone, talking to us about college and asking where the nearest Starbucks was. In fact, a member of one of the other bands even mistook her for a student, asking what her major was. I suppose I would have thought the same if it was not for her discussing her recent tour across the United States and marriage. She was interested in our lives to and we told her about some of our brothers. She cracked up as she scrolled down the Shit Alpha Beta’s Say Tumblr on her phone. During this whole conversation, she was scribbling down and scratching out titles of various songs on a little piece of paper. 10 minutes before she was expected to perform, she asked us what we wanted to hear. She had just gotten off of tour and wanted to do something new. Over all, I found her lovely and someone I would want to be friends with.

During her set, she unapologetically admitted that there was a mishap with the scheduling and her band was not there. If anything, this made the performance more intimate. We were all astonished by her unique vocals and mesmerizing stage presence. Everybody crammed near the stage hoping to get closer to this clearly talented and rising star. She joked with the audience and was a beautiful closer to a fun and memorable night. Afterwards some lucky audience members got to meet her as well as the rest of the committee but I unfortunately had to leave (to study for Final Boards). I found the back of a nametag sticker so I decided to write a love note on it to Clara. It was beautifully written and I poured all my heart out (it said I heart u-Ryan). Surprisingly, she actually saw the note and responded by recording a video calling me the “sweetest thang ever.”

I really enjoyed the event and one thing Clara said really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially she expressed that usually when she plays at smaller events like this, they are poorly planned. She said this was not the case of our event and that it was really well planned. I think this all shows how we worked together and supported each other. Huge props to Michelle Kang who chaired the event and made the evening a huge success. I cannot wait until next year!