The Frank J. Ruck Leadership Institute (Ruck) equips students to lead culture change that extends beyond their chapter and campus and into their community. Executive-level alumni mentors guide attendees on how to engage in difficult and meaningful conversations — a skill they often can’t develop on their campuses. Scholars are selected through a competitive application process, and they leave with an awareness of their own leadership styles and a new and better vision for the future.
While at Ruck, hosted on the University of Richmond’s campus where SigEp was founded in 1901, undergraduates are known as scholars. The scholars spend over eight hours a day with their small groups, known as teams. They discuss the stigmas associated with fraternities, how to combat them, and how to be at the forefront of an ever-changing culture that is Greek life. Teams network with distinguished alumni and professionals across the country, as well as participate in a high-ropes course, ultimate frisbee tournament, participate in a workout by celebrity fitness instructor, Frank Butterfield, and attend a presentation by Rae Ann Gruver and Evelyn Piazza, the mothers of Max Gruver (LSU) and Tim Piazza (Penn State), who were both hazed to their deaths.
SigEp-IA Delta has a history of sending its members to Ruck every summer, but this summer was different. Never before have three undergraduates attended this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the same summer. Brothers Brandon Menne, ’20, and Wil Dublin, ’22, were both selected as Ruck scholars to represent SigEp-IA Delta.
Brother JD Pelegrino was chosen by the headquarters staff as one of two undergraduates throughout the nation to intern for the headquarters staff for Ruck, known as a Rucktern. No member of Drake-SigEp has ever been picked for this.
Rising senior, Brandon Menne, has served as the chapter’s chaplain for the last three semesters. Learning from former-chaplains: brother turned SigEp regional director, Ben Weinberg, ’17, and Zach Cutler, ’18, Brandon has been a constant leader in the chapter.
Brandon headed our chapter’s first bylaws revision process in over four years. He has played an integral role in two executive councils that have led our chapter to Fraternity and Sorority Life recognized awards, including: chapter of the year, membership development of the year, award for membership safety, and several members inducted into the Interfraternity Council Hall of Fame.
For these contributions to the chapter, among others, brother Brandon Menne was chosen to be one of SigEp-IA Delta’s representatives at Ruck this summer. Brandon was a part of the Green Team at Ruck, facilitated by Marcus Robinson (University of Dayton ’99) and Brent Osborne (Ohio State ’19).
“Ruck has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Brandon said. The ability to get so many leaders in one place to be able to collaborate and learn in such a conducive environment is something truly special that SigEp does. Not only was I able to explore how I can become a better leader, I was also able to connect with a wide array of young men and mentors from across the country who I will be able to consult for the rest of my life.”
Rising sophomore, Wil Dublin, was also chosen to attend Ruck this summer. Wil has jumped in on chapter leadership from the get-go. He has attended 10+ executive council meetings as a way to stay involved in chapter decisions and to provide an underclassman perspective. Wil was a finalist for our Balanced Man Scholarship that awards young men that exemplify our values, before joining the chapter in the fall. He won the top prize.
Wil has been a participant of several SigEp intramural teams that, this year, led to the Voltmer Cup. The Voltmer Cup is presented to the fraternity with the most wins and participation across Greek life. Will has a promising future with SigEp, as recognized by the headquarters staff that handpicked him to attend Ruck this summer.
“My biggest take away is that team work, diversity, and leadership are core elements that lead to success,” Wil said. “Leadership combined with strong communication can lead to personal and community growth.”
Rising senior, JD Pelegrino, is currently serving his term as the chapter’s Vice President of Communications. JD is responsible for the implementation and integration of the new SigEp chapter website. He has held many positions throughout his time in SigEp including: intramural chair, chapter photographer, sorority relations chair, and been member of the recruitment cabinet in each of his six semesters in the chapter.
In addition attending Ruck last summer as a scholar of the Yellow Team, facilitated by Brad Nahrstadt and Ric Sweeney, JD has been present at the past three Carlson Leadership Academies (located in Chicago) and the 55th Grand Chapter Conclave, the summer after his freshman year. JD is set to fly to Houston in late-July for the 56th Grand Chapter Conclave, where he will be a member of a team responsible for drafting new fraternity legislation to be adopted throughout the nation. He is an active intramural athlete, playing on teams such as: flag football, 4 vs. 4 flag football, volleyball, 3 vs. 3 volleyball, innertube water polo, and more.
For these contributions to SigEp-IA Delta, along with other professional experiences, JD was chosen for the position of Rucktern at this summer’s Ruck. He assisted the headquarters staff with the day-to-day operations of the conference, as well as working with several teams’ facilitators to ensure the smooth execution throughout the week.
“My two trips to Ruck have been completely different, but two of the most valuable experiences of my life,” JD said. “The more comprehensive view of life and the connections formed in just the four days are still to this day hard to fathom.”
Our three brothers will return in the fall with 500+ hours of experience of how to improve chapter operations at Drake, great tangible ideas, and many stories.