Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Iota Profile #12: The Bro Code

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Editor’s Note: I held on to this profile intentionally for #12, because it has a two in it.  (Deuce Deuce!)

No, in all seriousness, for the first time in doing these profiles, I had no idea how to properly introduce this brother without being corny, overly emotional, or dramatic–however, I don’t think there’s a way that I can actually write about him without doing any of the three.  

But I’ll give it a shot.

As one of the brothers who was at my informational and on the night I joined Iota, I can say from personal experience that, despite the strength of this brotherhood and my friendships with many of its members–here is a brother who has come through for so many brothers, myself included, whenever needed.  From donating money, time, or knowledge to Brothers and Hearts in need, to being the cooler head to resolve disagreements*, to bailing brothers out of, er, “situations” (cough)–this charismatic brother is an example of an Iota Man if I ever knew one personally, and I’ve never seen him be less than exemplary. 

One of the most recent examples–along with leadership of Kenneth L. White (Polaris, Midwest Region) and himself serving as Assistant Vice-Polaris of the region is a big reason why the Midwest took home Region of The Year Honors at the 50th Conclave this year in Baltimore, MD.

In Iotaland, we call him “El Diablo” Spawn.  To his friends and mostly everybody else, he is known as “Oak.”

Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Okechukwu Ekunno. Line Name: El Diablo Spawn. Beta Tau Chapter (University of Missouri – Columbia), Fall 1997 (Deuce-Anchor of I.S. F.G.G.E.)

What drew your interest to Iota Phi Theta?

The Greek process for me was methodical. I know an Iota on campus from my dorm on campus during my Freshman year. Bro. Daryl “Brown Soul” Perkins hung out with me and my friends from high school. Matter of fact, my friends had already started a group name F.A.B.5 and we were all we needed: aliases, handsign, “frat room”, signature drink, even a website. I really wasn’t looking to join a fraternity. But I believe Bro. Perkins had an influence and invited me to an informational. I don’t remember the words, but I remembered the people. Bro. Damon L. White (R.I.P.) was the Chapter Polaris was the President of the Legion of Black Collegians (LBC); Bro. Maurice Mahone, Jr. was the Chapter Vice-Polaris and the Vice-President of the LBC. That impressed me. Everything that African-American student did socially-consciously, talked positively about, and got recognition for came from the Legion of Black Collegians. Then I found out that those same gentlemen would be the Dean and Assistant Dean of Pledges. Before anything got started they listened to me. They answered my questions. I had a clear vision of my opportunity to do and be who I wanted and my Brothers would foster my dreams as their own.
The method was: Initial contact, informal official contact, invite to information, informal follow-up, Informational, informal follow-up, Smoker (I didn’t attend), Application meeting, then nine days of getting to know your Dean/ADP before the first session.
 
What is your current job title/business, and why are you in that field?
 
I have been an IT Vendor Manager for AT&T Services, Inc. for the past 5 years. I manage the databases that record the resources, connectivity, and software licensing for all of AT&T’s non-US-based vendors, contractors, and suppliers. My passion has always been computers since the moment I set my eyes on one.Thank God for Bill Gates being the richest guy in the world (back then and again now), because my father was really pressuring me to follow him into the medical field. Being an IT Manager is really a marriage of the computer education I spend years obtaining with the supervisory positions I held throughout my life.
 
Please name one aspiration you hope to accomplish in the next 20 years.
 
I hope to fill out my life experience by becoming a devoted husband and loving father.
 
How has Iota helped you in your endeavors, personal or professional?
 
I laugh to myself, because I literally document my leadership experiences within Iota Phi Theta as support for promotions on my job. Leading a diverse group of people, preparing presentations, public speaking, prompt communication and so many other aspects of Iota that I perform are exactly what some companies are looking for in their management teams. I’ve stood before a group of bright INROADS student-intern with an Iota blazer on and spoke into lives. I’ve given lectures to collegiate Brothers on Leadership and Hazing. I’ve been put and have put myself on the spot to speak about Iota at Greek Public Meetings, NPHC Informationals, and in front of University Presidents. We are never out of place. We are always in our element.
 
Personally, I have applied determination, perseverance, and other principles into my lifestyle. I live by “The 12 Rules of Leadership” and “The 10 Commandments for an Enthusiastic Team”. Those things aren’t even Iota-specific, but I learned them here. At the same time, I’m still the person that was voted in kindergarten “The Person Most Likely To Make You Laugh”, the high school football captain voted “The Most Inspirational”. Iota gives me another avenue to be funny, to be a leader, to be an inspiration. I also learned humility, self-discipline, and the essence of Brotherhood. 
 
What would you say to anyone considering membership in Iota Phi Theta/Iota Sweethearts?

 

Before I speak anything into anyone considering membership, I ask, “What do you want to do with your life?” I try to listen without judgment. This question isn’t a test or [to] weed anyone out. I simply want to know where they are going in life, so I may best tell them how Iota adds life. Without them knowing what they want, Iota can’t add to them. They can’t come empty. We are called to mold Centaurs (those with unbridled passion in an area of their own choosing) and develop Sweethearts (ladies that will graciously support an organization of Brothers to reach further than they could reach without them). I impart to them, that what they believe matters, how they think matters, but what they do matters the most.
 
If I don’t see the individual until after he/she is an intake candidate, I always ask: “Why Iota?” If they are along in the Brotherhood Intake Process they may have a canned response. I will slow each of them down, one at a time, and ask them to really think about the question. Then I tell them that the answer is really their own and only they can judge how strong that answer is. That answer is going to determine how much they will invest in Iota and in turn, determine how much they get out. That answer is going to keep the fire going in them when everything in the world wants to put it out. That answer will be challenged internally as well, but it must be overcome in the darkness hour. The answer to “Why Iota?” must simultaneously be on the tip of their tongues and in the depths of their heart. When others quit, “Why Iota?” will allow you to stand, even if alone.
 
Regardless of his/her answer, I tell them mine. I valued the opportunity to matter in and with this organization. I asked a member of Alpha Phi Alpha what the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished within his organization. What difference did he make? He pledged when the organization was 46 years old… not too much older than Iota as when I joined. The Alpha looked dumbfounded and had no answer. I smiled silently as I remembered that regular Iota Brothers were a part of our induction into the National Pan-Hellenic Council. I took advantage of my opportunities as an Iota. I helped with the National Website in only my second year in the Fold. Bro. Dwayne Dixon read and personally replied to my email, and gave me permission to create a page to link to other Brothers’ and Hearts’ before social networking sites like Facebook or even BlackPlanet were even very popular. Random Iotas just had pages on Angelfire or AOL or any other of a host of free hosting sites.
 
I tell Brothers to find their place in Iota; it takes a lifetime.
 
More from Oak:
 
I encourage Brothers and Sweethearts to really promote and participate in the St. Jude’s Give Thanks Walk, on November 23, 2013. This is on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Last year, we gave of ourselves generously. I’m challenging the Brothers to reach outside of Iota more to family, friends, coworkers, classmates, and even those Facebook/Twitter/Instagram people that you really don’t know. There is some much more that we can raise on behalf of Iota than our goal if we do this right. Make a big deal out of it, even if a walk isn’t being hosted in your city. The donations are for a great cause and campuses/communities are dying to see us get behind a great cause. 
 
http://fundraising.stjude.org/iotaphitheta
Remember:

•Thanks to committed fundraisers and donors like you, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
•St. Jude speeds their research discoveries directly from their labs to the bedside of patients and to doctors and scientists everywhere.
•One child saved at St. Jude means thousands more saved worldwide.
 
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*-Editor’s Note: In 99.1% of the cases.  He ain’t called “El Diablo Spawn” for nothing.
 
(Images courtesy of Oak Ekunno-Facebook)
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