I believe the future is our youth

By: Randy Schnack, UCLA ’80

For the 30+ years that I focused on my career and family to the neglect of my fraternity brothers, they continued to stand by. I’m glad they did.

I appreciate that within our Phi Kappa Psi brotherhood, each member’s pledge to be generous, compassionate and loyal lifelong comrades is more than just words from a Creed. It’s who we are.

Being welcomed back, and specifically, my experience as a volunteer at the 2018 PIVOT leadership program for undergraduates, has made me prouder than ever to be a Phi Psi.

Growing up in Honolulu, I was naïve in many ways. Arriving at UCLA in 1978, I knew very little about Greek life. I didn’t end up joining Phi Kappa Psi until the beginning of junior year. I was relocating to an off-campus apartment and wanted a way to stay more connected to the campus and a social life. A few of my friends were already members of the California Epsilon chapter.

After graduation, I was out of touch for decades. I got married in 1986 and we stayed busy raising our two boys in Manhattan Beach. I began my trek toward serving as chief deputy in California’s Central District Court (the largest federal U.S. district court).

About eight years ago, my Cal Ep chapter was in the process of rebuilding the house and I got involved with fundraising. That reconnected me with many brothers, including Jerry Waters UCLA ’75 who introduced me to Jerry Nelson UCLA ’48 and Zack Longwell Ashland ’09. Hearing their aspirations for building strong leaders out of our young brothers, I was inspired to get involved with Phi Psi again. I owe them a debt of gratitude.

This past spring, I agreed to serve as a group leader at the second annual PIVOT program for undergraduates. PIVOT is administered by the Nelson Leadership Institute and supported by the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation. From the moment I arrived and was handed the 5-day conference overview, I was blown away by the strength of the curriculum, world-renowned presenters and the scope and pace of its educational sessions.

It was extraordinary. We had about 40 undergraduates the week I was there. The speakers, key Phi Psi staff and other alumni came and went throughout the week. The sheer wealth of knowledge, perspectives, and wisdom imparted to these young men was so impressive! I came home saying that it took me 58 years to learn what this one week of PIVOT was able to get across to our young men. And I myself got a lot of benefits; much more than I put into it. I wish I could’ve gotten so much in a week’s class back at UCLA!

PIVOT meets a pressing need. In today’s world, college students have been pulled in so many directions. Even in their 20s, they haven’t acquired many needed life skills, or career preparation, like past generations did.

       “From beginning to end, PIVOT
        is a Class A presentation.”

I began supporting the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation because I believe in its principles, and in giving back from what I have gained. I also believe the future is our youth. Attending PIVOT, I found one more great reason to give back to our Fraternity — being able to fund many more brothers’ attendance! I figure if my giving is able to make a difference for even one young brother, to help him become a better person and thereby make the world a better place, then it is worth it, and I have been successful in life.

I trust what Phi Kappa Psi is doing with my money because I see the outcome. I see Phi Psi driving home the message and values today’s generation needs most: Whatever your values, skills and perspective are, be true to them. Be true to yourself.  Do the right thing and do it every day to the best of your abilities.

I’m grateful that when time and circumstances permitted me to reconnect, my fraternity brothers welcomed me back into the bond. It is Phi Psis’ loyalty — whether through work, wealth or wisdom towards less fortunate individuals, including our own brothers — that makes us stand apart from other fraternities.

Making our young brothers better men and leaders is something I’m very proud to be part of.

Learn more about the Nelson Leadership Institute and PIVOT leadership program.