To the Fall 2017 Pledge Class

To the Fall 2017 Pledge Class,


First of all, congratulations! Every week you have been dedicating hours of your time developing yourselves as leaders, creating friendly relationships, and serving the people around you. 

I would like to share with you all an experience that has a special place in my heart. I remember back when I pledged (Fall 2013 I’m old. I know) we were all circling up to sing the toast song. Before this moment, the last time we sang the toast song as a whole pledge class was during the second pledge meeting. We were strangers back then. Eventually, it began. “Here’s to Alpha Phi Omega loyal brothers we…” I scanned the room and saw everyone singing along, all the while thinking about the experiences we’ve shared together. I’d look at one pledge and be like “Oh man I remember volunteering at this service event with you; I hope we end up at the same service event again in the future”. My eyes would shift to the next person and I would think, “The last time I saw you I was chasing you down the street trying to tag you in spoon wars”. As we continued to sway to the toast song, my smile would get bigger and bigger because I would remember a unique experience with every person I looked at. The song was coming to a close and I was singing the words with my whole being, “True to Alpha Phi Omega, may we always be”. This was the moment where I felt I’ve made one of the best decisions of my college career. This was the moment which I consider one of my first and favorite “broments”. This was the moment where I truly felt I belonged in Alpha Phi Omega. Because it was at this instance, we were no longer strangers. We were brothers.

-John Florido

Urbana-Champaign: More than just UIUC

When anyone thinks of Urbana or Champaign, the first thing that comes to mind is our university. It envelops a huge a chunk of both towns, and provides the cities with a vast boost in jobs and opportunities. However, believe it or not, normal adults live in Urbana and Champaign! But sadly, students mostly just stay around campus and never see the C-U area’s people and community. In contrast we, as Alpha Alpha, have a special perspective in Urbana and Champaign. Through volunteering, we interact with local schools, churches, stores, etc. that many other students do not have a chance to. Recently, I volunteered at two events that really touched me because of my interactions with the kind natives of C-U. A couple of weeks back, I volunteered at International Coffeehouse where I got to talk to people around the community who were looking for conversations. Through the talks, I met a local special ed teacher, a Chinese ministry coordinator and even some people from Japan(this is exciting for me because I’m taking Japanese)! I was having a bad day and meeting these people with interesting perspectives and backgrounds helped me cope. I then realized the warmth of the community outside of our campus. Moreover, I had to opportunity to restock for the I.D.E.A. jewelry sale where I got to chat with one the IDEA store’s very kind founders, Carol Jo. She kept praising the generosity of the Champaign community for donating jewelry, arts and crafts. Her praises extended to Alpha Alpha as well for providing the staffing to help with the store, which is something that we should all be extremely proud of. These experiences made me realize how much support our chapter provides for these towns, and I am equally grateful of having the opportunity to meet such caring people in Champaign and Urbana.

Spoon Wars Fall 2k17

Honestly, I didn’t know what else to expect. It was 12 am Monday morning and this unsettling fear set over me. I couldn’t place what it was exactly. Was it the three midterms coming up? Was it the deadline for applications to internships? Did I forget an important assignment? I sat in my room, silently pondering, what caused this much fear to consume me. At this moment, my roommate walked in and I jumped to his entrance. He just stood in the doorway completely shocked but he was not looking at me, he was looking at my hand. It dawned on me as I stood there with a spoon in my hand, spoon wars had begun. 2 weeks of anxiously walking around, always having to check your surroundings and not being able to trust anyone. It was the longest 2 weeks of my life but I was able to fight through them while also managing to snag two tags (which made me feel a whole lot creepier than before). As I was sitting in Pledge Meeting 8 feeling accomplished for helping my small group be a factor in the games, I reminisced all the interesting encounters I had during the past two weeks. Some fellow pledges would casually say hi without the thought of spoon wars. Some would give me a glare while showing off their spoon as a replacement for their middle finger. In the end we all got back together and celebrated a successful two weeks of bonding with people we might not have even spoken too if it were not for spoon wars! As these memories concluded, our PTAs of Traditions are ending the awards for the week. Then, they mention the special round of spoon wars with the top two from each small group competing against PTComm. My heart drops. I have to tag my beloved PTAs? The people who taught me how to tag, the people who helped me with my first tag and the ones that gave me my first spoon? How could I!? At that moment my PTAs glared at me with their respective spoons and I knew right there, all alliances and friendships with our PTAs were thrown away and it was going to be an all out battle for the title of spoon war champs. I  bonded with my fellow pledges and we devised plans that would make us go out of our way for the glory of beating PTComm. Cenation was not seen when we made our tags. Many fell but they did it for a greater cause as we rose to the top with their help. Never in my life have I been so paranoid to leave my apartment or even live at home for my roommate is also a PTA this semester. In all honesty, I would do it again. Even though it was such a grueling experience of lies, deception, and tactics, it was also a fun and great bonding experience with my fellow pledges and PTComm. I truly enjoyed the experience and am amazed at how many people I have met through spoon wars and APO in general. Sure some will remember me as the guy who stalked them to tag them with a spoon but at least it was all in LFS. :)


-Yours Truly A$hwin (Cash Money) Uday   


What's the theme of Retreat?

This semester I went to Retreat for the first time. Previously, I would make excuses on why I couldn’t go; a weekend needed to be spent at home, an exam was coming up, or I had another obligation for that weekend. Whatever the reason was, I decided this semester I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my name was on that sign up list.

Besides the stress of making it onto that sign up list and crashing APO online, I was a little anxious to see what was to come of that weekend.

Retreat is something every brother should experience. Whether you aren’t as involved or don’t feel connected, it has a way of making you feel a part of something. If you like sitting around a campfire or attempting to build a tent (for when Trey isn’t around) there is something for everyone to participate in no matter what kind of brother you consider yourself to be. What happens at Retreat stays at Retreat, which is why I cannot disclose to all of you readers (are you out there?) about the truly amazing things that happened. But, trust me when I say you should really try your hardest to get to at least one Retreat in your APO career because it’s something you’ll never forget.

So, thank you Ryan & Kate for a beautiful experience and making me regret making all of those excuses before.

In LFS, Franny Fotopoulos (Fall 2015, Kay Krenek)

What Service Means to Me

Being a leader, being a friend, and being of service are all values that I have implemented into my life since joining APO. They have helped me tremendously with personal development, but they have also allowed me to help others find these same qualities within themselves.

One of the most rewarding things to me as an APO brother is the impact that our chapter has on our community. The opportunity to serve is always present, and all it takes is the click of a button to sign up. It’s not about the points; it’s about making our community better through the values of leadership, friendship, and service. At the end of the day, if I know that I made a difference in some way, no matter how big or how small, I know I did my job as a brother. The quote below really resonates with me, and I think that it applies to a lot of the principles our chapter rests upon. A little effort goes a long way!

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

In LFS, Kristen Buetow (Spring 2014, Jennifer Lawrence)

A Brand New Experience: Refugee Tutoring

On February 13th, I signed myself up for Refugee Tutoring which was one of the biggest service projects that I signed myself up for and sadly I was attending it alone without any close friends. Although I was slightly worried about being alone, I walked to the North Lounge of the Union with an open heart and an open mind and trusted in my social skills to make or meet some new friends and acquaintances. Initially, when I arrived at the North Lounge, I was feeling iffy. There was the usual sign-ups and check-ins and I did meet some sweet actives like Alvina! She’s always so nice, welcoming and always smiling at you. I was so glad that I knew her :). Although initially a little light-hearted and shy, what changed from an awkward-me turned into a super happy and laughing-me. The kids at Refugee Tutoring were all hyper, fun, obedient, intelligent, and easy to communicate with and have fun with. But what made Refugee Tutoring so fun were these two actives, Tom and Anna. They changed the whole experience at Refugee Tutoring for me. Tom has an amazingly happy character, funny sense of humor, and addictive laughter that made me smile and laugh a lot. He kept fighting for my kids (cause the kids were obviously flocking towards me, jk) and he made teaching the kids look fun. And during free time, Anna was a super sweet and motherly figure. Not only was she a nice tutor, but she was engaging as well during free time when she decided to participate in a cultural rope dance that required a good beat, bouncing feet, and intricate and crazy jumps. I was so glad that I signed up for this day because I had the opportunity to meet two super awesome and fun brothers that hugely impacted my opinion of APO and made me more proud for being a pledge. Also, at Refugee Tutoring, there’s an amazingly smart and loving Asian boy who is so sweet to his little sister and absolutely LOVES history and physics! I couldn’t keep up with his knowledge of the advancements of military equipment per country during World War II nor was I smart enough to answer all his intriguing questions and hypothetical situations regarding physics. That’s when the group of Physics Brothers assembled. Brian, Enrique and Harsh – the physics enthusiasts – were the assembled group of knowledgeable physics students who gathered to answer the questions of one eighth grader – and I thought that was so sweet. It was like seeing three big brothers teach their little brother. Overall, the day ended well with arts and crafts and we drove back to ISR where I knocked out on my bed after a long morning. This experience greatly influenced my impression of APO and made me proud of the work I was doing.

-- Wendy Wu (Emma Watson, Spring 2016)

To the Emma Watson Pledge Class...

You walk into a dim lit room, your eyes supposedly closed, and wait to become a part of this service fraternity, whatever that means. You really have no idea what to expect during this thing they call “Ritual” besides finally becoming a pledge, (but weren’t you already?). I remember my Ritual in extreme detail. I made the mistake of wearing 5 inch heels. When I was trying to pay attention to what the Exec board was saying, I heard the parents mumbling behind me. I giggled as everyone went around the room and stated their full name. I remember finally taking that pledge class picture.

This past week, I was on the flipside. I watched as the rushees stumbled into the Union Ballroom, eyes closed, crashing into the person in front of them. I saw them tapping their feet anxiously, wondering what was going to happen next. I noticed forced smiles form for countless pictures within the different groups. I watched rushees transform into pledges.

There’s something that happens at Ritual that makes you feel a part of something. I can’t really describe what it feels like, you just kind of know when you go through it. The atmosphere changes and somehow in the short span of 45 minutes to an hour you have a family.

To the Emma Watson pledge class, I hope pledging goes well and you find your broments. I hope you find people you connect with and service events that touch your heart. But most importantly, I have faith you find your home within Alpha Alpha.

In Leadership, Friendship, and a whole lot of service,

Franny Fotopoulos

APO Journey

Last weekend, we had our dynasty sorting event for the new pledge class of Spring 2016. Pledges were eagerly waiting to find out which they belonged to. Actives were full of anticipation, decked out in their respective dynasty’s color, covered in dynasty pride, and ready to welcome their new pledges with open arms. It was so weird to think that I was just a pledge last semester. I had a moment and started thinking about all the things I accomplished throughout my pledge semester. I was able to grow as a leader, give back to the community through service, and bond with active brothers as well as fellow pledges. However, I did have some obstacles in committing to the pledging process.

I was very intimidated by how big Alpha Phi Omega was; it is with no doubt one of the biggest organizations on campus. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to find my place in such a big organization. But after going to the events and meeting everyone, I realized that everyone was in it for the same reason. We all wanted to become leaders through service while making new friendships. I’m sure that pledges will realize that as well!

I’m excited to see what the spring pledge class of 2016 will accomplish. The one thing I have learned is that you get out what you put in. You can’t expect to grow and gain experience without getting involved. With that being said, I hope everyone strives to do their best, so they will be able to look back and be proud of what they’ve done. Throughout the pledging process, I hope pledges keep in mind why they decided to join Alpha Phi Omega in the first place.


Sally Wu

Lessons and Experiences from APO

For the second blog post of the year, I thought that I would continue with a personal anecdote of sorts.

When I joined APO in the spring of 2014, I was a second-semester freshman who didn’t know which direction to take her college career. I joined APO on a whim, tagging along with a friend who had heard about a rush meeting from an RA in our dorm. I had been a part of service organizations before and I felt that it would be a good opportunity, so I went with it.

Let me preface this by saying I have always been the quiet person in the room, especially when I find myself in a new situation or around people I have never met before. And I guess this is something that many people can relate to, whether they’d like to admit it or not, because we tend to stick to the people and things we are familiar with. So when I first joined APO, I was a bit intimidated by the size of the chapter. I had never been a part of an organization that big, nor had I ever been quite as involved. I didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly learned that this was something I wanted to stick with. With this, I want to emphasize some of the ways that APO has helped me grow as a person.

I learned to be more self-aware, I joined committees that I truly liked and wanted to make a difference in, and discovered skills that I didn’t even know I had. Everyone was encouraging and welcoming, and I was happy that I found a great organization to be a part of. Something that I wish I had realized sooner is that it’s okay to feel a little lost, and it’s ok to be uncomfortable in new situations. I spent too much time worrying about things that I wouldn’t give a second thought to now, so I want to share this in the hopes that anyone in a similar situation can potentially benefit.

Here’s to a successful semester!


Kristen Buetow

Bring on 2016!

Hello, Alpha Alpha brothers and welcome to the first blog post of the semester! I hope you all had a great break filled with long binges on Netflix and spending time with loved ones and are prepared to tackle the rest of this year. This semester I want to challenge you all. Whether it is your first semester as a new active (shout out to the Bey’s) or your final go in the Alpha Alpha chapter, I encourage you to make it your best. Surely, you have made some great memories here with your brothers and plan on making a lot more. You’ve made some bro-ments and still have warm and fuzzies taped to your mirror, reminding you how awesome you are. However, after having put my timeline in APO and college in perspective, I have four semesters to juice every moment I possibly can. A few years from now will I remember every single detail of a service event? Or every moral dilemma Brian proposed to the office? It is most likely that I will not. But I pray I will remember how many bonds I made with the people here. I want to look back at my pledge lock-in and think of how I knew this is where I belonged. I would love to be able to tell people how amazing it was to see Dorothy’s face light up when she won bingo on a Saturday service trip. My goal is to remember a lot of you and how you impacted me. I want to be able to reminisce on the sweet memories and know why I stayed in this chapter all those semesters. So, Alpha Alpha whether it be your first or last time with us and anywhere in between, I hope you’re able to tell a lot more people about the amazing things you did with your time here. Here’s to Spring 2016!

In all of the LFS,

Franny Fotopoulos

Going the Distance to Camp Drake- Fall Retreat 2015

On October 2nd-3rd, over 100 of our brothers attended Fall Retreat 2015 at Camp Drake with the theme Going the Distance from Disney's Hercules. The theme of retreat, Going the Distance was chosen to inspire brothers to overcome obstacles in their lives, and become stronger because of mistakes made or fears overcome. There was a great mix of serious talks and personal development, as well as a ton of fun and s'mores! This was my first time at retreat and my first time at Camp Drake. Camp Drake is a cute little camp with walking trails and a super long and creepy suspension bridge over a stream, and was seriously the scariest place to be in the dark (especially because of Ari's "purple gorilla/not purple gorilla" *spoken in an accent that sounded like a Jersey accent* story). During the retreat there was some serious brother bonding and obviously some mafia being played. If you haven't gone, you should absolutely plan on it next time! Here's a mash up of the pics taken over the weekend (some are a little blurry sorry!) Shout out to Priyal Amin for doing an amazing job organizing everything, all of the awesome retreat leaders, and everyone that helped to take the tents down later the next week!

-- Kimberly Nalley

Date Auction 2015

Super late, but on Wednesday, September 23rd last week an Alpha Alpha chapter record was broken when this semester's Date Auction fundraiser raised nearly $1200 to go towards the brothers of our chapter attending Region VI Conference!! The auction was a huge success! If you haven't already seen Yuriy's mashup video here's the link: There were dates sold, old apparel auctioned (some went for over >$50!), raffle items, and THE PRESIDENT OF OUR NATIONAL FRATERNITY who sold for $260!!!!! Here's a good mash up of pictures to describe the night.

Stork Spotting at Illini Union

Hey Alpha Alpha! This is your Public Rep Director, Kim Nalley, bringing you the news about 2015 Pledge Ritual! Last night, this year's pledges were introduced to our fraternity's history, values, and purpose, and then presented as official pledges by the Fall 2015 Executive Board (who did a phenomenal job! Frank Reed Horton would be proud!). Afterwards, one of our chapter's traditions of forming families within dynasties was upheld and the pledge children met their parents and siblings. If you weren't there to witness it here's a highlight reel of what you missed: conga lines of pledges with their eyes closed, lots of whispering and subsequent shushing, dim lights and lots of tradition, screaming new families, little mobs of people scattered around, and more group pictures than you took at prom. Also, an awesome opportunity to take a picture with our banner and letters! Overall it was a great pledge ritual, and we are happy to have our pledges this semester. Congratulations Pledges!!


Hello everyone! Welcome to the blog section of the website. This will be run by the PR Director, Kim Nalley, and will provide updates on important events and will share information you may not find anywhere else!

I'm going to take this opportunity to introduce myself, my name is Mustafa Shikora and I'm your Technology Chair for this fall. If you see anything wrong with the website or you have some ideas, please let me know! 

Thank you!