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TKE men

TKE men from left, Dan Schaefer ’09, Steve Schumacher ’11, a TKE recruiter, Eric Ming ’10 and Seth Wanta ’10

September 2009

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St. Norbert Tekes earn service honors

Seth Wanta ’10, president of Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Sigma Xi chapter at St. Norbert, and Steve Schumacher ’11, vice president, write of traveling with two of their Teke brothers to their fraternity’s national conclave.

Seventeen hours is a long time to spend in a car. Nevertheless, the drive to New Orleans for the 55th Biennial Conclave of our fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, was well worth the effort for St. Norbert Tekes Eric Ming ’10, Dan Schaefer ’09 and us, Steve Schumacher and Seth Wanta.

That’s only in part because our own Sigma Xi chapter was among those honored at the Aug. 6-9 event. We received five national awards: three excellence-level honors for community service, academic success and extracurricular activities, and two honorable mentions for chapter size and alumni relations. In addition, St. Norbert College alum Dan Schaefer was one of eight fraters granted the “Top Teke” award.

It was great to hear “Sigma Xi of St. Norbert College” called out so many times during the Grand Inaugural Banquet. It shows how our chapter is one of the elites in the country.

But beyond that, the conclave was a great celebration of brotherhood. More than 800 Tekes from across the U.S. and Canada came together to select fraternity leadership, vote on changes to our governing rules and policies, participate in intense leadership development, build friendships, and recognize our best and brightest fraters and chapters.

After arriving in New Orleans on Thursday, Sigma Xi fraters attended the first of the Grand Chapter meetings with the entire Grand Council present. That night Steve Forbes, president and chief executive officer of Forbes Media and editor in chief of Forbes Magazine, became the 250,000th initiate into the bond.

“Steve Forbes is a very intriguing figure,” says Ming. “He is so successful, yet amazingly humble and down to earth. He truly embodies the principles we talk about and try to live.”

On Friday, the conclave offered dynamic educational programming for students and alumni. The Teke Institute and Alumni Volunteer Academy kicked off the morning’s activities, with nearly 1,000 men scattered among several breakout rooms for sessions ranging from “Understanding the Black Book” – a lesson on TKE’s governing laws – to “Recruitment.”

A parade down historic Bourbon Street capped off the day. The street was jammed from side to side with Tekes led by the 2008 and 2009 TKE International Sweethearts. Teke flags hung from the rafters with chants of “T-K-E” heard from a mile away. The parade route ended at the House of Blues for a top-notch celebration.

Hundreds of Tekes gathered late Friday night in the French Quarter, but that didn’t keep them from showing up in force early Saturday at City Park for a round of donated labor. Some 600 men braved the early morning heat and humidity and the occasional fire-ant hill to clear brush along Bayou St. John and spread mulch along the path through City Park’s Couturie Forest.

Afterward everyone was tired, but there were no complaints. “It always means so much more when you can see the difference you make in the end,” says Schaefer. “When we started it was very overgrown, but once we got everyone working it started getting done fast.”

After some time to cool off, the Grand Chapter reconvened. In this second session, Grand Council elections were held and amendments were made to the Black Book. Then it was time for the long drive home.

The conclave was an experience like no other. After meeting such a variety of people, you realize what a large role TKE plays in so many people’s lives. We couldn’t be any prouder to be Tekes than we are now after this trip.

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