Alumnus learned how to make others feel worthy of what they were doing

Douglas Yajko W & J ’62 didn’t know anything about fraternities when he arrived at the all-male Washington & Jefferson College in 1961. “I grew up in a blue-collar family. My parents ran a small grocery store. I’d say 65-70% of the students belonged to one of about 10 fraternities on our small campus. The Phi Psis were the football players and wrestlers. I had played baseball and football in high school, so it was a good fit. I had a great experience.” 

Brother Yajko’s strongest recollection of Phi Psi centers around its emphasis on leadership and broadening young men’s horizons. “I had the opportunity to serve as chapter president my junior year and stayed in that post until nearly graduation. At the time, I didn’t know anything west of Pittsburgh, but I attended one of the Fraternity’s leadership forums in Denver (1964). I got to see a part of the country I’d never seen before. I later ended up spending my residency years in Denver and have lived in Colorado since.” 

“Joining Phi Psi opened my eyes to what was going on in the world – beyond what was happening in Pennsylvania. After my medical residency when I started making a living, I felt I was due to give back to the Fraternity.” 

Brother Yajko’s first gift to the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation came in 1970 and he’s been giving ever since. 

He wants to ensure that today’s young men can benefit like he did. “If I hadn’t joined Phi Psi, I might’ve never been president of the board of a hospital – or president of an international hunters’ organization with 50,000 members,” shares Yajko. “Phi Psi helped me figure out how to get along with people, manage a budget, intervene between guys if there was a problem. I learned how to make them feel worthy of whatever they were doing.” 

A lot has changed since his chapter days. But Brother Yajko believes the Foundation’s educational and scholarship programs can make a lifelong difference for today’s student members as they did for him. “They seem more in tune with what’s happening globally, with a more positive view on getting good grades and giving back to the community. We were more sheltered, more colloquial. Overall, I also think fraternities must play a greater role in brothers’ lives today. Besides leadership, they address the huge challenges of alcohol and drug abuse, and risk management with things like hazing.” 

Yajko is grateful for the chapter life he says “provided an interesting and unique environment in which you could grow and bond with others. Hazing doesn’t make that happen. What does make it happen is eating meals together, coming from different backgrounds and learning to live together and get along, and building interfraternal relationships.” 

Today, Brother Yajko is exploring a planned gift as to maximize his impact while at the same time enabling the Fraternity greater flexibility in disbursing the funds as needed. “Any way you’re helping a young person, financially or otherwise, is never a bad thing. I feel a great sense of satisfaction in being able to give back for all the things Phi Psi provided me.” 

Dr. R Douglas Yajko, MD, is a General Surgery specialist in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He attended and graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1969, having over 51 years of diverse experience, especially in General Surgery. Yajko is an avid hunter and prominent advocate for the sport. He has three children and four grandchildren.

A planned gift can be a rewarding way to make a difference in others’ lives. Learn more about the many ways you can join Douglas in giving back to Phi Psi.

From National and District Scholarships to localized Chapter Scholarships, Phi Kappa Psi Foundation is committed to helping undergraduate brothers achieve academic success. Learn more about the scholarships available to undergraduate and graduate Phi Psi brothers.