It's truly amazing to look back 20 years and think about how two decisions that I made without putting much thought into them, would be two life-changing decisions.
The first of those decisions was to go to K-State. At the time, all I knew was that K-State was "silo tech" and KU was "snob hill". I was a western Kansas farm boy so KSU seemed right for me, plus a couple of my high school buddies were heading there, so that was all the thought that I put into choosing KSU, having never been to Manhattan and having no family history there.
The second of those life-changing decisions was to pledge Kappa Sigma. Before coming to Manhattan, I didn't know anyone who had been in a fraternity and thought they were only for "city boys." All I knew about them was from TV or the news, which was 99% negative, so I spent my freshman year in Haymaker Hall. Before long, I realized that the guys I saw around campus with Greek letters on their shirts seemed to be having an awful lot of fun, and they weren't all the elitist types that I'd thought they'd be, so I started rush in the spring semester. I was nearly ready to sign with Pi Kappa Phi, but for some reason I wanted to visit one last fraternity... I'll never forget walking up the front sidewalk of Kappa Sigma. I was promptly won over by some of the friendliest, nicest guys I'd ever met. I knew that day that I'd found my college home.
Another fond memory is my mom nearly in tears while helping me move into Room 2 as a pledge. Not because she was going to miss me, but because the door was off the hinges and leaning up against the wall, and two guys were in the room tossing junk through the open window into the back of a pickup. Seems Room 2 had been used as a storage room during the prior school year, mostly for junk.
Over the next four years I was molded by Kappa Sigma and KSU into a totally different person than when I pledged. I went from an awkward small town kid with little self-confidence and lacking in social skills, to a confident, well-rounded person. I actually paid attention and learned something from Mom Inman's etiquette lessons! I lived in the house four years, serving as GMC my final two years, and can truly say that my years living in the house provided some of the fondest memories I'll ever have.
I was probably one of the most reluctant graduates in the history of KSU in 1987, for several reasons. First, the house had declined in numbers severely in 1985 and was just starting to rebound with a couple of large pledge classes, and I wanted to continue as GMC and have a hand in the rebuilding. In addition, I had majored in Radio/TV and realized too late that I did not want to pursue a career in that field, and I had no job prospects upon graduation. But my financial aid eligibility was depleted, so off to KC I went. After some low-paying odd jobs, I discovered my true calling and went to night classes at DeVry Institute for four years, receiving a BS degree in Computer Information Systems in 1994. This has led to a fulfilling career in computer programming.
In closing, I'm sure we can all look back at how Kappa Sigma not only changed us as men, but also molded our futures. For me, I met my wonderful wife through my Kappa Sig roommate Steve Stone. To this day, Steve is my closest and most trusted friend. My wife Marilyn and I have 2 kids and are living a wonderful life in Olathe, KS. I can't imagine what my life would be like today if I'd not chosen KSU and Kappa Sigma.
Justin Hockersmith '83