Graduate Student Gone Greek
By Taylor Hudson
Taylor Symons in the Graduate Assistant for JMU's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Photo by Caroline Prendergast for JMU Technology and Design.
There is more to Greek life than choosing a favorite fabric for a letter shirt, or finding a date for next weekend’s mixer social. For some, it is an opportunity to polish a resume, but for most, it is also a chance to impact the community and develop life-long friendships. For Taylor Symons, Greek life did not end when he graduated. He put his passion into action; Greek life is his job.
Symons works as a graduate assistant at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. He enrolled at JMU after graduating from Kansas State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational and Relational Communication Studies.
As a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel Administration program, he is required to participate in an assistantship for a student affairs office. When researching possible assistantships on-campus, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life was his first choice. Symons thought it would be a great fit because, as an undergraduate, he was a brother of FarmHouse Fraternity, one of the few national social fraternities that have not adopted Greek letters. “I had such a great Greek experience, so I have such a passion for Greek life,” said Symons.
It is Symons’ job to assist the on-campus Greek organizations, helping them reach their goals and uphold their mission statements. “I’ve learned from experience that when a fraternity or sorority is done right, when they truly uphold their mission and their morals, it can change your life,” states Symons.
More specifically, Symons co-advises the executive members JMU Panhellenic Council, which governs 12 sororities. Last year he co-advised the Interfraternity Council, which governs 15 fraternities. He also assists in the planning and execution of campus-wide programs such as National Hazing Prevention Week, Panhellenic Recruitment, and the Fraternity & Sorority Life Excellence Awards.
Symons’ enthusiasm for Greek life is visible through his work ethic. “By contract, I am required to work 20 hours a week,” states Symons. “But, there are some weeks where I work more than that. For example, during sorority recruitment, I worked a lot more than usual because things needed to get done.”
According to Symons, working in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is highly team-oriented. Under the leadership of two full-time professionals, Symons works along side a second graduate assistant. On a daily basis, he additionally works with nine undergraduate employees that fulfill roles in office administration, marketing, programming, housing, event management, and alumni development.
After graduating with his master’s degree, Symons hopes to work as a professional in the student affairs field. Ultimately, he aspires to serve as a vice president to an academic institution. But for now, he notes that he truly enjoys his job. “My favorite part of the job is the opportunity I have to work directly with students,” expresses Symons. “The students I work with truly want to give back to JMU as well as to their brothers and sisters. They are a lot of fun and they always keep me on my toes.”
If you have a passion for Greek life, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life may be the place for you. They offer many employment opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, visit their website at http://www.jmu.edu/fsl.