Kappa Kappa Psi Presents: S3E19 – Podcast

Transcribed by Luis Luigi Bencomo and Kyla Buettner

Bang Co: Hello Brothers and welcome back to KKPsi Presents. I’m your host, Bang Co, National Vice President for Student Affairs.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this production. Of course, I couldn’t do any of this on my own. I have some amazing help from our National Communications Team, our Student Advisory Committee, and a special shoutout to our editor, Ryan Smith for all of his hard work and dedication to KKPsi Presents. 

To all of our returning listeners, welcome back and thank you so much for your support. For those of you joining us for the first time, welcome to our show. We appreciate you taking the time to join us today. This podcast, of course, is brought to you by Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. The purpose of this series is to provide some insights, some helpful tips, suggestions, and to showcase the different voices of the Brotherhood in a hopefully, entertaining fashion that will keep you coming back.

Today’s guests are joining us all the way from the NED and NCD. More specifically, Amherst, Massachusetts and Elmhurst, Illinois. These Brothers are currently serving as presidents for their respective districts and I’m very excited to hear what they have to say and to see what they’re doing. Without further delay, let’s pass it over to our guests for their introductions. Patrick. 

Patrick Sullivan: Hey, I’m NED president, Patrick Sullivan. I’m from the Epsilon Nu Chapter at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I’m a biochemistry major going into my senior year. In the past I’ve been field staff for the alto sax section in the Mass Marching band, I’ve been section leader. In Epsilon Nu I’ve been historian and I’ve been joint treasurer of the Epsilon Nu/Delta Delta joint chapter. An interesting, fun fact about myself is I’m a bus driver. I drive busses for UMass transit, I operate the radio down at the base sometime, and I also train people to try and pass their CDL and pass their road test. 

Bang Co: Amazing. Very, very cool. I had a roommate who was also a bus driver and I would always try to ask if I could talk on the radio but I was never allowed so, probably for good reasons. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Patrick. Jack. What about you?

Jack Gornick: Hello, everybody. My name’s Jack Gornick from Alpha Zeta at Indiana University. I major in management and business analytics. I play clarinet in the Marching Hundred. And I, last year I served as North Central District Vice President for Membership, and now this year I’m serving as NCD president. And I guess a personal fact since I’m near Chicago right now, I’m a big Blackhawks fan so, go Hawks.

Bang Co: Go Hawks! And that’s, is that lacrosse? What sport is that? 

Jack Gornick: You doing this again with me Bang? You know its hockey. (laughs)

Bang Co: Yes, hockey. I’ve learned that Chicago people love their hockey, love their, what is it? Who plays at Wrigley Field? 

Jack Gornick: Cubs

Bang Co: The Cubs! That’s right. Awesome. Well, thank you both so much for your introductions. I’m very excited to have you on this podcast today. For those of you who, again,  are returning listeners, last time we did an episode with two other district presidents and we’ll do another episode with two more. But for this one, very excited to have these two individuals here. Have, you know, definitely seen them go through the election process and seen them get acclimated to their roles. Just excited to hear more about them on a personal level but I’m going to start with a simple, yet difficult question. How has your 2020 been so far? And how has this new normal been for you? We’ll start with Jack. 

Jack Gornick: Well, I mean, there are changes that are going on right now and, like, for me as well, but I think, I think I’m somewhat fortunate in that the changes that I’m facing are not as severe as some other people are. Or the adversity that I’m facing this year. Like, okay, yeah, classes are online. That’s fine. Some struggles with internships and companies shutting down for the summer, that was a struggle, but it’s alright. But, like, in the end I can still, I can still see friends and family to an extent. I can still go outside, go for a run, go for a hike, whatever. Whatever it is I want to do. And I can still do whatever I want to do for Kappa Kappa Psi. So I mean, yes, it is a little bit of a new normal but the changes, I think,  for me, at least, are quite bearable. 

Bang Co: Very cool. Awesome, thank you. Patrick, what about you?

Patrick Sullivan: Yeah, I have a similar sentiment. I think, you know, things are pretty alright for now and a new normal is an interesting way to put it. But I guess that’s certainly an accurate way to put it. I think, at least, I can sleep easy at night knowing that everybody is all, we’re all going through the same stuff together. So I, you know, I was worried about things like internships being cancelled as well but then I remembered, well, all internships are being cancelled so I’m not alone in my worries for that. I actually was thinking about, like, years ago every new year I would see this meme that was like, “what do you think is going to happen in four years? Haha. Come on guys, I don’t have 20/20 vision.” And then, like the next year is three years, and then two years, and then this last New Year’s Eve it was like, “what do you think is going to happen this year? I don’t have 20/20 vision.” And I feel like that meme was a warning and I wish I took it more seriously when I saw it. 

Bang Co: (laughs) You know what? That’s a good point. I definitely know what you’re talking about with that meme and, yes, 2020 has definitely been the longest six, seven months ever. So very cool, I have-

Jack Gornick: We’re only halfway done. 

Bang Co: Exactly, exactly.

Jack Gornick: We’re only halfway done with 2020. (laughs)

Bang Co: Right. Great! Great to hear that and thank you for sharing. For me, like, it’s just, it’s great to see that even though there are so many changes that we do have people like you both in leadership to help the students adjust. I think that, at the end of the day, it’s about the students safety mentally, emotionally, physically. You know, for those of you who are listening for the year 2020 again, just know that there are people here who are struggle bussing with you as well and we are all going through a lot of different issues so you’re not alone. 

So my next question is going to be sort of a, sort of a throwback I guess you could say. I wanted to hear more about how you got in music and KKPsi. We’ll start with Patrick on this one.    

Patrick Sullivan: Sure. I started playing clarinet when I was in the fourth grade and uh, I wouldn’t be too excited yet because I quit not two years later. I wanted to find a new instrument so I was trying to decide between like, saxophone and trumpet. I had a much easier time jumping from clarinet to saxophone than the trumpet so I stuck with that. Played tenor saxophone in middle school and for some of high school. Then I did bari sax. I just love bari sax. But when I came to UMass – there’s no bari sax in the marching band so I jumped to, all the way back to alto sax which I hadn’t played in a long time but I had one, so it’s the one I brought. For KKPSi, I vividly remember, it was like the first weekend after bandcamp. We had a parade in Westford, Massachusetts. It was sweltering hot, we were wearing the old UMV uniforms which are like, which were heavy wool, like we’re all like, dying in the heat. But you know, we pushed through, we did the performance and we rode the bus back home. We got home and I stood up to get off the bus and our band director Dr. Anderson gets on the bus and he’s like, “fantastic job today, everybody! No band tomorrow. Band is cancelled.” and everybody is like “wooo!” And instantaneously somebody standing behind me, like, also waiting to get off the bus, taps me on the shoulder and I turn around and it was a Brother, one of my field staff and he said, “oh, now that band is cancelled tomorrow, I know you’re free to come to this KKPsi recruitment event that’s hosted during band time. ‘Cause I know that you have nothing going on during that time.” I was like, “(sighs) I have to go.” There’s no way that I couldn’t go because I gotta see this guy like every day of the week. So I went and we played kickball down at the fields and I saw all these people, like, there were so many people there, like more than half the people weren’t Brothers, they were there for their recruitment event. As I met everybody and I started to pick out who were the Brothers, I saw this really strange phenomenon where I was meeting people that were all great friends, super close, and I was learning, “oh, they’re not in the same section. They’re not even in the same major or in the same year, but they’re all this big, united group. The thing that I was seeing, that I came to understand later, was the Brotherhood that they had all formed. And, you know, that’s what kept me coming back. That really piqued my interest. And I also was just very thankful for the friends that I had made already that just, first week after band cam. You know, I felt like that program, the UMass band had given me so much and I wanted to give back whatever I could. So the more I learned about what the chapter did to serve the band, the more interested I was. I was told something at that recruitment event that I knew would ring true and it definitely did is, I was told, “you know, everybody joins this fraternity at different times and for different reasons, but everybody seems to share this one this is, ‘you come for the service and you stay for the Brotherhood.’” That couldn’t be more true. A couple of years down the line, that’s absolutely the mentality that I’ve developed over these years. 

Bang Co: Awesome! Very, very powerful so very much appreciate that. I can definitely say that, you know, we learn a lot about peer pressure but when we use it for good, to get good people to join the fraternity, you know, that’s a good example of, of just direct recruiting right there. Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m just, I guess I’m surprised that there’s no free food involved because I feel like that’s where most of the stories surround themselves. Very cool, patrick. Jack, what about you? 

Jack Gornick: Well mine doesn’t involve free food either so, sorry to crush your hopes and dreams. Going back to getting involved in music, I, let’s see. I joined band in fourth grade playing clarinet. Unlike Patrick, I stuck to clarinet all the way through, like, all the way through high school and college. I just kept going with it, joined marching band in high school, started getting into it, got a lot more hyped. Then, going to IU I joined the Marching Hundred and then continued, so continued on there. One of my, one of the few people that I knew from my high school that was also at IU, he’s a Brother. And he just went up to me one day during band camp and said, “hey, you should come to this Kappa Kappa Psi recruitment event.” And I said, “okay.” So I went and then I haven’t really left, I’m still here (laughs). Just never looked back after that. 

Bang Co: Yeah!

Jack Gornick: I’ve just been a part of it all the way since then.

Bang Co: And then you both dig deeper into not only just being a Brother, but wanting to serve on different levels and different ways. It’s always really interesting to kinda hear how, you know, we often hear about the struggles of leadership, of, when you are serving. There are, obviously there are issues and things get hard, but it’s the little things that you guys are mentioning right now like the memories of how you got started, the people that wanted you to get, that wanted you to get involved. It’s the little moments that, when you serve or the Brotherhood aspect keeps you coming back. I think it’s really important, so for anyone listening, like, if when you have those tough moments, think back on those memories, think back on, like, the smiles of the Brotherhood, the bond that you get to share that makes this all, all worth it. Amazing. Okay, so the next question I have for you both, we’ll start with Jack on this one is: what’s been your favorite thing, aspect, memory of KKPsi so far?

Jack Gornick: So kinda of what you were just kind of alluding to here is like, there’s sometimes where you are going through a lot of hard work, maybe it’s some challenges. But then you get a moment that’s just really rewarding and for me this relates to, if it isn’t my favorite memory, it’s definitely one of the most rewarding. And that was, so last year, being district VPM, I was in charge of putting forth a membership education retreat. That retreat, let’s see, that retreat, the entire day of workshops was on like, October 6th. I had started planning that and preparing for that all the way back in, maybe late April, maybe early May. So I was working on this event for several months and pushing through preparing a vision for the event, preparing workshops, coordinating with my TBS counterpart, coordinating with the governors, and anybody else that was doing workshops to just, to get this all down packed and running smoothly. It was definitely a lot of work, but then going through that event, at the very end of the day, to conclude the events, as when most events end, we sing the hymn. We sang the hymn. We were in this, we went out to this, like, two story atrium. Like a circular, tall room with like, really, really strong acoustics. We lined up in a circle around a, like, star insignia on the ground and then, when I say this was the best hymn that I’ve ever heard, I think like a combination of the acoustics of the room, just echoing just the right amount, very strong balance of voices and just the, the buildup of that for me. That was like four or five months in the making for me working hard up until that point. Then, just having that moment to just enjoy the hymn, to breathe easy and just, just relax. It was beautiful.

Bang Co: Yeah, it literally and figuratively came to a resolve, like, there was a resolution. I love that. Awesome, thank you so much for sharing. For those of you, so MER, that’s what your membership education retreat is?

Jack Gornick: Yes.

Bang Co: Okay, so for those of you who are listening and don’t fully know, district officers often time have to work behind the scenes to put together events even though they may not have been trained or have the necessary, you know, it just kinda, you just kinda go and you learn as you go with these events. If here are events that you’ve been to that may, you know, may have touched you in some way or you think may have been better, you know, whatever it is, make sure you give your thanks to your district officers. Especially now when there’s shifting form, you know, these traditions of in-person events to now virtual, I hope that this is something, this is something that’s really important because a lot of times people are like “well if it’s virtual it’s not going to have the same impacts so I’m just, I might just not go.” Well, if everyone has that attitude then yeah, of course it’s not going to have the same impact. But if everyone is intentional like, “ you know what? I don’t have to drive, I don’t have to spend money to register” or whatever, go. It will make that event even more powerful. So thank you for sharing that Jack. Patrick, what about you? What’s been your favorite thing, aspect or memory of KKPsi.

Patrick Sullivan: Jack’s story actually just reminded me of singing the hymn at NatCon in 2019 in the, that auditorium in Oklahoma. I forget what it was called.

Bang Co: The hot one?

Patrick Sullivan: But yeah, the really hot one. I remember having way too many people in that room, especially when we sang the hymn. I was like, I was in the very, very back row so I could see everybody and there was like, no standing room. Every seat was filled. It was just like, the craziest thing to hear and to contribute to. Yeah, I mean, that was unforgettable. I also, my aspect I was thinking of was, I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody join this fraternity and not walk away like, better person, more of the person that they want to be, with more skills and like, leadership ability that they develop that, a lot of the times they maybe didn’t even think they had. I think that’s the case for me especially like, I didn’t think that I ever could be a leader like a section leader or a district president, but it was being around the people that could do those things in my eyes like, my role models through the fraternity and, sometimes it just takes a simple, they say, “you can do it too.” You know, “believe in yourself.” And then it’s like, “oh, wow. It happened, it worked, and it’s working,” you know, finding some success. I think that transformation is incredible to watch and it’s also incredible that it seems to just, it’s consistently there, it’s always going to happen. Yeah, I’d put money on people enjoying their experience in this fraternity every time. 

Bang Co: So this is, and I’m going to add a question here that’s not on our script, but I wanted to see like, when it came to taking a step in to leading, or into wanting to serve in the district level, was there somebody that like, inspired you or like, that maybe, you know, tapped you on the shoulder and was like, “hey, I think you should run?” 

Patrick Sullivan: Well yeah, there was our chapter president two years ago who gave this whole speech about how we should all consider running for district offices, and we had a lot of brothers who were district officers in the past that were still around and that, if we needed help, we could talk to them. Our chapter sponsor used to be NED president and he was saying like, you know “the resources are available” and he believed in all of us that we could do it. So that was when I started really thinking about it and then I like, went to district, I went to NatCon, I got to know the district council at the time, and through knowing them, I started to see you know, the qualities that I had honed and developed over the years through the fraternity and I started to say, you know, “I also can do this. All I need to do is put this application together and if I just go in and be myself I really think that people will latch on and agree that I have the ability to lead at the district level.”

Bang Co: Yeah, very cool. What about you Jack?

Jack Gornick: I, similar thing for me, so from being in Alpha Zeta at IU, we had the, now, fourth district president from Alpha Zeta in the last six years. So starting with Bang being district president, then after that, after him we had Jerick from Alpha Zeta, and a year after that we had Jason Filer who I knew the most out of this group because I was still an active brother with him. Then now, a year after, or two years, a year off from Alpha Zeta and then now back to Alpha Zeta with me. My sophomore year, I was continuing membership education coordinator in Alpha Zeta. Just a chair position, not on exec, just working on the membership education committee putting forth CMEPs. At that year’s membership education retreat, there was a call put out by Emily Pollock who was the VPM at that time for chapters to share like, what they’re doing with CMEPs. And so my president at the time, Allie Newman just reached out to me and said, “hey, you should do this and just give a presentation.” So I went to MER, gave a presentation in front of like, a decent chunk of the district. Then, on the way home, I got a text from Jason saying, “hey, come over, let’s talk.” And he told me, “people were impressed with what you had to say today” and like, “if you… I had this, I had a conversation with Marc [Renaud]  and Tammi [Ramsey],” it was Jason saying this, that he had a conversation with Marc and Tammi, the NCD governors, they were like, “yeah, we should reach out to him about running for district office.” And then like, it was never something that crossed my mind until Jason brought it up to me. I think that’s the case for so many people is that like, being a district officer is within the reach of so many more people. Because you don’t have to be spectacularly experienced or have some extreme skill like, you need to have passion, you need to have, you need to have some goals, and you need to have the drive to achieve them. You probably need some lead communication and leadership experience in there as well but like, it’s not something uniquely profound about the people that end up becoming district officers. The people that are district officers are the people that have that and take the initiative to do that. But being a district officer is within reach for so many more people than people realize. I think that if people just go out and if they see a position that they want to go for, and think they might be a good fit, just go for it. I know like, I’m in a, I was in a unique scenario because I did have other like, district officers in Alpha Zeta to look up to whereas like, a lot of other chapters just have never had anybody, even if they have somebody who could become a very, very strong district officer. So it’s tougher for those chapters for sure and those brothers and chapters that don’t have somebody readily ther. But if current district officers or chapter presidents, or other chapter officers can reach out to people and be like, “hey, you would be a good fit here.” That’s the first step to getting people to run.

Bang Co: Yeah, and I think these are very powerful responses and examples, and the reason I ask is because, and you both alluded to this, is that this is a very common thing for our fraternity. You know, most people end up serving at a higher level, you know, they put themselves out there to be criticized, to be, to, you know, to have stressful days, nights, and you know, worry about event stuff because somebody tapped them on the shoulder, reached out to the and said, “hey, I think you’d be good at this.” I think that my point is our fraternity, you know, our, we have musicianship, service, and leadership. Many times people look at that leadership aspect and they’re like, “well, that must mean the same thing as a title.” I think you both can attest to this, is that like, we all have this realm, this cloud of leadership around us that like, you don’t have to hold a title to tap someone on the shoulder and say, “hey, you would be good at this.” Of course, it helps, it probably has a little different kinda feel to it when, you know, someone with a title does say that, but to all Brother listening out here, if you see somebody that you think has a potential, has certain skills, and a passion to be a leader, to serve at a higher level, and to develop their leadership, I hope that you will encourage them, I hope that you will push them. Because at the end of the day, we all started out with a lack of knowledge or skill. Those, that comes with time. But if someone has that passion, if someone has that, those, you know, the fundamental drive to want to serve in that way, I hope that you will do that. This is for the two of you as well, you know, continue to look, be on the lookout for who’s going to be the next VP, who’s going to be, you know, the next district officer, whatever that may be, continue to keep an eye out. We are also responsible for how our fraternity ends up in the next few years, ten years, whatever. Because we also lay that foundation, we set that momentum. Now that we’re deep into the district officer conversation, I did want to ask, you know, one of you, as a first time district officer and one of you is returning, so hoping to get your perspectives on how your experience as a district officer has been so far. We will start with Patrick on this one. 

Patrick Sullivan: I don’t think that there’s any single word, or phrase, or sentence that i could use to describe the experience so far. You know, it definitely has had ups and downs. Like, just last night I hosted a Chapter Leadership Conference with all the chapter presidents in the district. You know, more than half of them were able to show up and it was an hour long meeting, kinda similarly structured to the SAC meetings. You know, I was so nervous for a lot of it, thinking, “I really hope that those in attendance don’t feel like this is a waste of time, I hope that they feel like they’re gaining knowledge out of it, that they’re getting important information, and that this is the best way to do it instead of sending out, like, a whole list of emails or whatever. You know, I spoke pretty passionately about the upcoming year and, like, you know, trying to work through turbulent, rough times, and everything. I guess, by the end of it, I had so much positive feedback and so many people said, “this was great,” they loved it, they’re looking forward to the next one. It was awesome. But you know, I still, like, I still couldn’t sleep last night just going over everything again, thinking, “this, that, what did I say here, what did I say there, what should I have done differently” and, just, my head was spinning with it. I think overall it was a success and, you know, it’s an experience that, even though it kept me up, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. You know, there’s also, like, you know, it’d be dishonest to not bring up failures and stuff. Like, a couple weeks ago, I reached out to a chapter about paying some late fees and they emailed me back and they were saying, “oh, you know, how do we go about doing this? What’s the process for submitting the money to National HQ,” and I totally just forgot to answer. Totally forgot to reply. Like a week later, I saw they paid the late fees on the OMRS and it clicked in my head and I was like, “wait a second, this is the chapter that I was supposed to help do this.” I felt so bad. But that failure is a learning experience and now I have a to-do list on my desk where I’m going to write stuff like that down, and I have, and I’m not going to miss it next time so that I can take those opportunities to help others, the chapters that ask for it, especially when they ask for it. 

Bang Co: Yeah, definitely. I appreciate that and it’s so powerful because those that do have the opportunity and privilege to serve as a district officer, specifically district president, you learn so much about yourself. You learn about how you tend to operate. You learn how to maybe, potentially, solve your own issues before they happen. This is why, I think, you know, there are people within the fraternity who believe that district officers shouldn’t be a thing and I  adamitely believe that it should be a thing because this gives students opportunity to really put everything to the test. And really, you know, all the things that we’re learning, all the things that we ask, you know, like the whole AEA, you know, like, how can you do that? How can you show that? Being a district officer is one way. Even though it is July 12th and elections probably won’t happen until, somewhere in early 2021, but I hope that those who are listening are going to consider it and are going to reach out, ask questions, and pay attention because a lot of times when you do start to notice what the district officers are doing, you’ll notice their growth as well. I appreciate, Patrick, you sharing that failure because, myself included, I fail literally every day. Left and right, so many emails have gone unanswered as well and it happens, right? It happens. But you know, how do we curtail that, how do we grow from it and I just, I think that acknowledging that failure and just kinda saying, “you’re right, I failed.” Moving forward. I appreciate that and I think that was very powerful. Jack, what about you? How’s your district officer experience been so far?

Jack Gornick: I think, so this year, being district president, I think, I am fortunate in a lot of ways for having served on the council last year because, like, when I’m adjusting to this year, I’m just adjusting to a new role instead of having to adjust to not only a new role, but also just to be, adjusting to be on the district council. I think it has helped me a lot and I admire, like, Patrick and other district presidents who have to do both. They’ve done well so far and it’s good to see. But I think, having that year already in this realm of being a district officer has helped a lot because, I can now, not only, I can understand what we do already, which helps me see what we can do better. From an internal aspect as well. From within the district council, understanding, “okay, this is something we didn’t do too well last year. Let’s change that, let’s do it different[ly]. I think that’s helped me a lot so far because I’m trying to balance doing what we’ve done before and what worked there, and changing things up to a better solution for different things. So, balancing between tradition and growth. I think that, as a council, we’ve already done a lot of good things in terms of reevaluating what we do. I love that so far, like we’ve done a deep dive into our communication channels as a district, and we’ve changed things up. And I think that we’re trending in a very good direction right now. 

Bang Co: Yeah. No, I really appreciate hearing that response and just kinda tying it with Patrick. Just like, the thing that I hear again and again with district officers is that, like, you have this opportunity where you get to do that deep dive into yourself, into what has been done, your skills as a leader, your, just, overall ability to do certain things, and you find ways in which to grow, you find ways in which to do better. Something like Patrick had mentioned and, you know, Jack, you mentioned with the reassessment of the communications, is that every district council, every chapter, every committee is going to change and it’s going to look differently. I highly encourage all Brothers listening, no matter what titles you hold, whatever committees or whatever aspect you serve, things are going to change and you have to get yourself into the mindset of being comfortable with change. Traditions are great, but we don’t want to be stifled by that tradition. Especially with everything going on in 2020, yeah, it’s been the longest decade ever. This six, seven months that we’ve lived in 2020, it’s been, but there’s been so many changes and we’ve seen that the call for people to need to be able to look at themselves like, “alright, what’s not working? What is working?” Same thing with band, right? You look at concert bands and you look at how concert bands essentially, there’s been big call[s] for how that’s going to change. Even marching band and with COVID. How’s that going to change and still be able to play, and serve, and do things? I really appreciate these responses because, to me, it gives such a different aspect to what leadership looks like. Because leadership isn’t about just being the front person. Sometimes, it means taking a step back, letting people do their thing, and just looking, observing, watching, listening. Seeing what the people will need, seeing what people want, seeing how things need to be better. So I definitely appreciate that and this will take me to my next question: Yourself as DP, you’ve had, I’m sure, a lot of time to ruminate about this from when you, essentially, ran. Again, both of you, you know, I mean really, all six DPs, but especially the both of you, I’ve seen, I’ve read your stuff. So from there, from when you were running for district president to where you are now, and looking forward to what you know about this year, if you could only achieve one thing, one goal as district president: What would that one thing be? We’ll start with Jack on this one. 

Jack Gornick: One thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, in just the last couple of days is, when we’re talking about, like, the things that we’re doing as a district, and what people need, and what chapters do. I’ve been thinking a lot more about, when we’re in these, like, challenging times, we really need to focus on doing things right. And that’s a very vague thing and I’m aware of that. So, making sure that we are connecting with the people that we need to be connecting with to make sure that we are working as a collective unit when we need to, to make sure that we are supporting people and Brothers of the district. Making sure that we are getting Brothers to support each other. Like, these are all things that should be going on regardless of the changes that are happening. But these are things that become ever more important when there is more adversity in the world. Again, in terms of making sure that we are, as a district council, are supporting Brothers as effectively as we can. Like, that becomes ever more important right now. I think that would have to be the biggest focus for me this year is just, reemphasizing that our job as a district council is to engage, serve, and support the brothers of the NCD. I think, if we do that effectively, well then, everything else, I think, falls into place. 

Bang Co: I love that. Sounds like you’re, you know, like, the big focus is to set people up for success. 

Jack Gornick: It is, yeah.

Bang Co: And that’s, I mean, that’s a really important part. People look at the district officers and the district council and sometimes, like, if you’re not, it makes [it] kinda seem like there’s just an agenda, that people are driving certain things. But there really is an aspect to this where it’s like, “what can we do to serve, to engage, and to support our chapters?” I would say, if not, it’s probably one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, to kinda take a look how you can support. So, I appreciate that. Let’s see, Patrick, for you, yeah same question: what’s the one goal, if there’s nothing else, you’re literally like, “alright, forget everything else, I need to achieve this one thing.” What would that be?

Patrick Sullivan: I think the NED is in the same mindset as the NCD where we… I said this to the chapter presidents yesterday, like, “this is your year and that’s a hard thing to face because, maybe you’re chapter president, it’s your senior year and you had this vision for what your year was going to be. And now, you’ve got, like, this remote semester and you’ve got this, like, you know, your band program is running in a very different way than it ever has and it’s just not the same.” But I want to, if I just had to drop everything and say, “everyday just reiterate [that] this is your year. Don’t waste the opportunity to rise up this adversity, to overcome it because that’s what this is. This challenge is an opportunity to better yourself and to overcome it.” I had a realization too. Along the same train of thought is, you know, I realize marching band isn’t really fun. Just the aspect of it in general, like, running around in the heat, making these formations that, like, you know, maybe you’re standing behind a tuba player, you can’t even see the audience now and, you know, the uniforms are uncomfortable. But it’s the most fun that I’ve ever had because of the people that are in it, not because of what it is. And, you know, when the programs are coming back and they’re not at all what they used to be and they’re, like, virtual and you’re, like, recording, you know, to a click track so that you can be in, like, a compilation video or whatever and you’re like, “this just isn’t the same.” Well,  that’s fine because maybe it will be more fun (chuckles) than what the original was, and maybe you can make it fun, and make it worthwhile, and make people want to do it. Because that is what, I think, the most important thing we can do right now is, is to just make it our year because this is the only year that we have. 

Bang Co: Yeah. I love that. I think that’s very powerful and, you know, just, if kinda looking at everything and to everyone listening, I hope that you can identify with what that one thing is for you. And I hope that you will also take time to ask others that you’re around, what that one thing is as well. Patrick, you mentioned marching band, right? So, like, it’s, yeah, I will say, as a person who does not like going outside, and does not like to sweat or run around, I enjoy marching band like no other. I enjoy rehearsals because the challenges that we have, the stupid jokes that we get to tell each other, like, just like that comrodery that we’re suffering together sometimes. I know that that’s for me, but sometimes, you know, I have to ask myself, like, if someone’s not enjoying themselves in marching band, do I know why? Part of that is well, I have to incorporate, what’s the one thing that they want to get out of marching band? Sometimes I have, you know, if music students are like, “I’m just here because I need the credit.” To me, that at least, that reminder that, “okay, that’s where they’re coming from.” So, as leaders, as Brothers, when we’re looking at how things are going to change as things are moving to virtual, we may not have marching band at all, taking a look at, like, alright, the things that we’re doing, they’re probably going to have to change and with those changes, are we incorporating […] the things that people want to achieve? Like, why are people still in this chapter? Like, if chapter’s going to be completely virtual, you know, why would you still want to be a part of that? In a way, like, to make sure that people feel heard. Because there’s so much going on right now, so much noise, there’s just so much happening at once that sometimes, I mean, I’m hearing this from students left and right. I get emails and messages on social media saying, “I just feel lost. I feel unheard. I feel that people are so focused on the changes and, like, the big problems that, like, I feel like my voice isn’t heard or, like, my concerns aren’t being heard.” So I hope that, again, everyone listening, that for like {…?}, and all the others is that, we take the time to also listen to, “what are people’s one thing? What’s the one thing they want to achieve this year? What’s the one thing they want to achieve fall semester?” Whatever that may be, taking the time to at least hear people out because it may change our perspective on things. Alright, so, the next question, and we’ll start with Patrick on this one, you know, you’ve been in office for a few months now and I just wanted to ask about, maybe one project, you could tell us about one project that you and your council have been working on will be working on that you’re most excited for. 

Patrick Sullivan: We actually, we had this, like, small idea that has kinda snowballed and now it’s almost become like our main focus where we said, we were looking over a few chapter constitutions and we were like, “you know, these are all very different and a lot of them don’t include things that other ones have or are just, you know, formatted completely different.” We realized, “the chapter constitution is really important. Let’s collect all the chapter constitutions and let’s, like, look at them, and let’s see, ‘oh, how do officers split up their responsibilities’” because now we’ve got a Slack channel. Well, we’ve got a service channel. What officers should we be putting in there?  If a chapter doesn’t have a VPS, for example, and so we said, “well if we look at their constitution, we can find out what officer should go in there. And so we said, “let’s get these constitutions now” where, we sent out a call to the district parliamentarian about seven month earlier than we normally would because we’re saying, “we need this parliamentarian to come in and help us sort through these constitutions and look at them, and suggest changes for chapters.” It’s kinda taking over and it’s become our main focus. I think that everything that we’re going to be doing in the near future is going to be hinged on examining the chapter constitutions to figure out what they’re able to do in the fall and what they should do, you know, maybe to change it or to edit it, or to open themselves to allow for their chapter to function in whatever capacity it can in this upcoming semester. 

Bang Co: Yeah, that’s very powerful. I mean, that is such an important part and I’m just, like, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about the situations, about the number of emails or meetings I’ve sat on because there were these internal issues of like, “well the constitution says this, but the chapter is trying to do this.” Are they just going to not, like, so many different things and, you know, I won’t mention any specifics, but I think that’s really powerful so, like, again, those who are listening, like, you have built into your internal ecosystem where, or you infrastructure, where you assess these things every so often. Because again, your chapter is going to change. The fraternity votes on changes every two years. Are you doing the same thing? Are you continuing to assess, like, what changes is the university making in regards to its student life, you know, the student life organizations and such? What changes are happening on the national level? The district level? Are you staying on top of that? Are you at least being proactive about this? So again, super, something that is so dry and most people avoid because it is so dry, but again, so, so important. I’m interested to hear more about how this goes so, yes, I will keep tabs. Jack, what about you?

Jack Gornick: The biggest thing that we have been working on as a council, so far this summer is, just, setting the foundation for everything else that we’re going to do this year. Through our summer meetings, we did a deep dive into each of our individual goals. We find them, create a time table for them, figure out how we’re going to work together on some of these. We set expectations for each other as district officers, we, again, we did another deep dive into our communication and our organizational structures. We are looking to revamp a lot of things, including, our website, which hasn’t been changed much in the last couple of years. We’re now, and Patrick alluded to the fact that they have a slack and we’ve been working on creating an NCD Slack channel, or NCD work space that has a bunch of different channels for each different responsibility in each chapter. So presidents, VPMs, service, brotherhood, music, treasurer, like, going down the line, and giving an opportunity for Brothers to connect with, and collaborate, and to support each other, as well as to have an open line of communication with us, as district officers. And, again, this is setting everything up for when we actually get into the year. You have these resources, we have these communication channels, we have this plan of how we’re going to support the Brothers of this district. And how we are going to achieve our goals as officers and as a council.

Bang Co: Yeah, I love that. I was going to make a joke, like, “oh, your Kelly is showing and yeah, you know, utilizing that Kelly degree there.” So, no, I think that’s again, another, we look at these pieces and sometimes I often chuckle and laugh because people will come to us with these ideas of grandeur of changes, these massive, great ideas. And I think, I mean, to me, like, “alright, let’s change everything up.” I’m okay with that. However, at the end of the day, change is not sustainable if you don’t think about the foundational pieces. So like, the bylaw review, the constitutional reviews. Like, the simple act of setting expectations or creating something that you both are doing or have done, like the communication space. Like, “what’s that one place?” I’m sure this has happened to all of use where, we’re communicating about a project or, like, internal affairs of our chapter and it’s like, some of it’s on email, some of it is over a text group, some of it is over, you know, GroupMe, some of it is over here. It’s hectic. So, you know, some of you listening, pay attention to what’s happening within your chapter and see, “are these fundamental pieces, these foundational pieces, are they being looked at? Are they being assessed? Are they built together?” And take a look at, especially with so many changes that are probably going to take place, like, make sure that you have something stable so that Brothers can at least depend on, look forward to, something that they know, like, “alright, if literally everything changes, at least these pieces will still be something that we can latch onto and maintain some sort of consistency for our chapter.” Okay, very cool. So, just a couple of questions left here for you all and I did want to hear about how KKPsi has helped shape you into the person you are today. That may be deep, and, maybe a lot, but you could just expand on how KKPsi has helped you and changed you or helped you grow into who you are today. I would greatly appreciate that. We’ll start with Jack. 

Jack Gornick: It’s definitely provided me the opportunities to become a better leader. Going all the way through pretty much any other organization that I’ve been in, all the way to, like, middle school, like, by the end of it I was, for most of them, I was in a leadership position. And like, looking back on, like, my work there, there are some things that I did right, but there are so many things that I, looking back I’m like, “wow! Why did I do that? Like, that was really immature Jack. What are you doing?” (laughs) It wasn’t until, getting into, like, higher level leadership in Kappa Kappa Psi that I really realize[d] that I still had a long way to go. I think [that] in the last two years of being a district officer, like, I’ve seen myself grow in leadership so much. It’s provided me the opportunity and the practice to become [a] more competent, mature, level headed, empathetic leader while still maintaining some of the strengths that I had earlier on in my leadership career. But just allowing me to, just, to handle bigger issues, go through more adversity, bigger challenges. Through that, you really find who you are and you definitely find, or ever overhaul, like, your leadership characteristics. I think that’s been huge for me. 

Bang Co: I love that. Hey, change is good, and assessment is good, reflection is good. Appreciate that a lot. Patrick, what about you? 

Patrick Sullivan: I agree about, like, becoming more introspective, looking at, you know, “why do I, like, either choose the things that I do, or why do I believe or go about solving a problem in one way when, maybe, there’s a better solution?” I think that it’s made me want to have my first thought in my head or my knee-jerk reaction has started to become honed towards, not what is easiest or most convenient for me, but I try to have that first thought in my head, like, “what can I do for the group? What can I do for the chapter and for the community?” I’ve started to realize that I’m succeeding, like, in these last, maybe a year now, I’ve succeeded in, oftentimes the first thought in my head is, “how do I benefit the group, even at my own personal sacrifice?” Actually, even more recently, being elected NED president and serving this role has changed, just, my perspective on, like, kinda the world itself. Like, some people, a lot of people right now, i would say, you know, “the world’s in chaos, like, the country’s never been more divided than it is now.” But I have this completely opposite perspective where, like, I’ve never felt more connected to, just like, the world in general. Like, I look at a crowd of strangers and I’m like, “there’s only so many degrees of separation between that random person and, like, a chapter member in the NED. Maybe they went to one of these schools that has a chapter. Maybe they were in the chapter. Maybe they were in the music department. Maybe they have a sibling in that music department that knows somebody in the chapter,” and I’m like, “there’s got to be only, like, three or four degrees of separation between most everybody because, you know, even, maybe they’re just a fan of that university’s band. There’s so many people that, if I wear a UMass marching band shirt in public, people will be like, “oh, I love the UMass marching band,” and I’m like, “incredible,” like, you know? And it’s crazy to think that, like, that is so pervasive in everybody’s world and that I’m starting to see more of a connection between everybody. Honestly, it makes me more happy, definitely. I’ve become a happier person. 

Bang Co: Awe, that’s really good to hear. Warms my heart a lot. Well, thank you both so much for sharing these pieces and I hope that this is something you’ll continue to reflect on. Especially, as you go through serving as DP, as district officer, as you go closer to convention. As someone who had a very emotional convention time, taking moments to be grateful for the moments of how you’ve grown, changed, learned, messed up, you know, said the wrong things, done the wrong things. Just take a moment to reflect on all of that. It also just helps you in general, I mean, quite frankly, when you interview for jobs in the future, it helps, you know, it kinda preps you to answer these kinds of questions. To others listening, I hope that you will take the time to do that as well. I mean, yeah, you may not be serving as DP or district officer, maybe not even as a chapter officer, but your journey, your experience in KKPsi, you’re going to get out of it what you put in. You’re going to make of it what you want to make of it and if you don’t take the time to reflect like, something probably I can’t mention, says, something secret says, like, “we probably have to take a moment to rest and reflect,” and just, you know, be able to assess wherever you are on this journey and see how we don’t, you know, we don’t fall of the path. I think reflection has been, definitely, something that we’ve talked about on this call already and I’m going to do a switch from something more sentimental, something a little bit more serious, to some fun questions. Just to because, again, I want people to learn more about you as individuals. So I’m going to ask you a series of fun questions and it’s just going to be like, first thing that comes to your mind. We’ll start with, we’ll just go Jack to Patrick, Jack to Patrick, we’ll just kinda go though that, alright? You guys ready? What is your biggest pet peeve?

Jack Gornick: Inconsiderate people. 

Patrick Sullivan: When somebody tells me to just drive the bus, on the bus. 

Bang Co: Fair. (laughs) Okay, what is your go-to meal or food?

Jack Gornick: I don’t know if I have a go-to. I grilling chicken a lot. I guess that’s a very basic thing that I do because chicken is also pretty cheap. 

Bang Co: Love it. 

Patrick Sullivan: Ramen noodles. Crack an egg in there.

Bang Co: Oooh. I love it. If you could live in any city in the world, where would you live?

Jack Gornick: Wait, I had this. I thought about this the other day. I think I want to live in New Zealand, especially right now, considering they’re back to open up. So that’d be pretty sweet. The other one that I thought about, I’ve heard really good things about Lugano in Switzerland as being, like, the best place to live. So I’ll just throw that out there. I like the mountains. 

Patrick Sullivan: I think I would move to Alaska, to be honest. I don’t even know what the capital of Alaska is, but probably there. 

Jack Gornick: Probably Juneau or Anchorage.

Patrick Sullivan: Yeah, I feel like it would probably be pretty peaceful and I don’t mind the cold. I think it’s easier to warm yourself up than to cool down in the heat, so I think I’d dig Alaska. 

Bang Co: Love it. I had an interview in Anchorage in 2019. It was definitely an experience. What is your least favorite type of food?  

Jack Gornick: See, it used to be, like, spicy food but I’m getting into that more. I don’t know, I’ll eat pretty much anything, like, honestly. I guess I’ll go: Spicy food that doesn’t have flavor. 

Patrick Sullivan: I’ll say, like, bagged, frozen vegetables. I think vegetables from a can [are] so far superior and they last longer on the shelf than, like, bagged, frozen vegetables. 

Bang Co: Gotcha, gotcha. So, if you did not play your current instrument, if you had to go back to any other instrument, what would it be? 

Jack Gornick: French horn, mellophone. That’s where I want to go. 

Patrick Sullivan: I don’t know if this is cheating, but I’d say violin. I just started playing violin like a year and a half ago, but if I could have started it ten years ago, I would go violin.

Bang Co: I love it. I’ve been playing violin since I was very young, so I fully support that. 

Patrick Sullivan: I’m jealous. 

Bang Co: Okay, I don’t know if you guys karaoke or not, but if you were forced on stage to sing a karaoke song, what would that song be?

Jack Gornick: Something in my register, so it’d probably be some Beatles songs, I don’t know. I can definitely do some “In My Life” by The Beatles, but that’s kinda mellow for a karaoke, but that’s the first thing that came to mind so let’s go with it. 

Patrick Sullivan: Definitely something by David Bowie. Maybe like a classic like “Starman” or the cheap answer, which is “Tequila,” because then you only need one word. 

Jack Gornick: (laughs)

Bang Co: My gosh, yes. I love it. Okay, great. Last fun question here is: Let’s say you were driving a car. You’re driving, like, a {inaudible}… or a bus! You’re driving long distance, it’s just you. You’re driving and all of the sudden a spider drops down, what is your course of action? 

Jack Gornick: Probably just hitting it out of the way or killing it. 

Patrick Sullivan: How big is this spider?

Bang Co: You know, as big as it needs to frighten you.

Patrick Sullivan: I’d probably have to pull over and then, like, get out of the car and find, like, a stick on the side of the road and, like, get it onto the stick. And then I would just throw the stick. Once the spider is on it, just throw the stick into the woods, probably as fast as I can. 

Bang Co: I love it. Honestly, I would have just put the, [lit] the car on fire. That’s me. So I love that you are both a lot more peaceful and logical with your responses. Okay, very cool. So, I just wanted to say that, you know, I’ve asked you both a lot of questions already, and really do appreciate your willingness to speak on all this so far. I have one last question and for this one, we’ll start with Jack. What piece of advice can you share with our listeners who would like to serve at a higher level, or are currently searching for leadership opportunities, or [are] just potentially wanting to create some positive change for their community? 

Jack Gornick: I definitely touched on this earlier, but if you see something that you think might be good at, don’t be afraid to go for it. If you need to find somebody to help you through that process, be it a leader in your chapter or in the district, reach out to them and say, “hey, this is something I’m considering, like, what advice do you have? How can you help me through this?” I think that should be able to help you quite a lot. The other thing too: Not to get all like Nike on it, but “just do it.” Just, if you just go for it, like, don’t be afraid to go for something.If you want a position, run for it. It’s as simple as that. If you want to make change in your chapter, like, find a way to do it and just go for it. Talk to somebody about making it happen and then just go for it. It’s as simple as it is. Like, if you have good ideas, very rarely will people say “no.” And if they do say “no,” shame on them. 

Bang Co: Jack, I say “no” to you all the time.

Jack Gornick: Yes, and shame on you. (laughs)

Bang Co: (laughs) No, I love that a lot and I’ll let Patrick speak before I go on my little spiel here. Patrick, what about you? What’s that one piece of advice you can share with somebody looking to serve, create positive change.

Patrick Sullivan: Yeah, I agree with Jack about, “just do it.” And, Bang, all the time you say, “don’t have paralysis by analysis.” I love that phrase and I think it fits here as well, you know, if you’re thinking like, “oh, I don’t know what my class load is going to be like or what this next year is going to be like, so I’m not going to run.” You know, I didn’t know what this year was, I don’t think nobody knew what this upcoming year was going to be like. So, any sort of, like, thinking about that, that I had done really didn’t make a difference in the end. What’s important is if you have the passion, if you have that drive, and you can source that, you know, from people around you, the people that you love, and the people that support you and what you want to do. You source that drive, you’ll find the time, you’ll find the means to get done what you want to do. You know, worrying about it beforehand, worrying about it before you even attempt to run is not going to do you any good, it’s only going to hinder you. Instead of thinking, like, “oh, is this thing really the best thing for me to do?” Do it because I can almost guarantee [that] it is the best thing that you can do. Don’t even ask for a reason why because that’s just “paralysis by analysis.” You know, also if your heart is in the right place when you want to have some positive changes, you have to push through and keep going. Anybody that stands in your way, they probably disagree with, not your message, but your methods. That’s the kind of feedback you take and you say, “okay, maybe I go about this in a slightly different way,” but you keep that same, like, the fire burning of, “what did you want to do in the first place? What kind of positive change were you looking for?” And now you revamp and revise what you’re doing and how you’re going about it based on the feedback from the community. But don’t take people standing in your way as saying that your idea is bad, everybody, you know, in this situation and in this fraternity, I really believe that everybody wants to help and everybody wants things to go well. So, yeah, that’s what I have to say. 

Bang Co: Yeah, I, you know, I deeply, deeply appreciate this on such another level because, let’s say, if there’s one thing that I could achieve, serving in my world right now and achieve nothing else, is the whole, thinking about paralysis by analysis. If I could help stop that, if I could help, just, people do something, and believe in their journey, and believe in their experience, believe in their experience and just do something, like, at the end of the day, were all going to suck at something, were all going to mess up something. No one is going to do everything perfectly. If you have ever said that you played a piece, a stand tune, a show perfectly, you’re lying. You’re lying, right? And like, how do we get better at playing music? We practice, we just do it. How did you first start playing music? You just blew air into it or you struck the chord. Whatever you had to do, you just did it. I get why there’s this paralysis by analysis, because people want to be safe, they want to make sure they’re doing the right thing. It’s a lot of pressure being a leader. I get it, but also, at the same time, nothing, no action to me, seems like we’re doing people a disservice. While you shouldn’t just head out and, you know, guns blazing, do whatever you want to do, like, you know, you’re talking to other people, you’re taking into consideration, but once you get that analysis part done, do it. Again, to those people listening, I, myself, would have never run for district office, never run for national office if it hadn’t been for someone to be like, “hey, what do you think about this?” So take that piece of someone encouraging you, take that as the universe telling you something, then take that and do it. If you need a little bit of encouragement, like Jack said earlier, find somebody who is going to support you and do it. Alright? If you need the time to talk to all, you know, like Patrick said earlier, with all the officers in your chapter to make sure you are on the same page, then just do it. You’re going to mess up, not going to say things perfectly, probably going to lose some sleep over it. That’s okay. That’s a part of us growing, that’s a part of us learning, and that’s a part of us striving for the highest, right? Striving for the highest – I always, I saw this presentation a long time ago – but it was somebody talking about, “what does AEA look like?” They drew a line and, you know, striving for the highest, blah, blah, blah, and, you know, talking about how, “does that look like a straight line? [Does it look straight up, is it a consistent incline?] No, it’s probably going to be, like, this, it’s kinda like the COVID case lines. It’s kinda like, all over the place and you know. So, I just want to say that, thank you both so much for your time today, and for sharing more about yourselves, your experience, and your goals, and your vision. I’m very much looking forward to seeing you both do your thing. You both come from different backgrounds, but I will say, there’s been a special things about the NCD and the NED about having this, like, similarities in the past[….] and I definitely do see a lot similarities, I see a lot of solutions in which you both can learn from each other, in which chapters from both districts can learn from each other as well. So I hope that, again, like we kinda alluded to earlier on this call, even though things may seem distant, this is another chance to get connected, to grow stronger, to learn from outside of your comfort zone. Do you all, do either of you have anything else you wanted to add to this before we wrap up? 

Both Guests: No, I think I’m good. 
Bang Co: Okay, great. Well, again, Jack, Patrick, thank you both so much for joining us today. On behalf of the fraternity and the national council, I just wanted to say how much we truly appreciate you and admire all that you’re doing for our fraternity to promote musicianship, leadership, and service. Of course, a huge thanks to our listeners for joining us today. If you like this episode, then please share and suggest our podcast series to another Brother today and subscribe if you haven’t already done so. You know, we do this not to hear ourselves talk, but to share insight that could be meaningful for you and hopefully help you create some positive change. But we also need help, your help, in finding topics to cover, and Brothers to join us as guests on this show. If you have any suggestions, please reach out to me bangco@kkpsi.org. Again, thanks for joining us today on KKPSi presents. My name is Bang Co, your host, and I wish you much love today. As always, AEA.

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