When Jacqui Finston and Maggie Donahue received an email two years ago about starting a chapter of the Delta Phi Epsilon fraternity at JMU, the process of registering with Be Involved and Student Activities and Involvement began.
Meadow Wiggington, a senior political science major and co-president of DPE, was good friends with Finston and wanted to change her major to international relations or political science.
“It was kind of, like, the best way to get into it because with DPE you find all of the people that are exactly the same as you in the sense of, like, passions of being a part of the international community or working for service for people overseas and so, I thought it would be a good way to get into it,” Wiggington says.
DPE is a professional foreign service fraternity and is only the 18th chapter ever, nationally. Wiggington calls the chapter “very bare bones” as the fraternity was established with no constitution or bylaws.
“What I say is that DPE is about people who wanna serve in an international capacity, so we don’t have just polisci majors or international affairs majors, we have health services administration, we have pre-PA people, we have health sciences because they just wanna focus on some things abroad, which is pretty much the broad scheme of what we wanna do is know that we have a domestic [presence] here as, like, American citizens, but we also are part of a bigger community that people like to forget about, which is our world community. So, DPE is a place where people can find other people that wanna do that,” Wiggington says.
Almost every member of the fraternity has traveled or studied abroad — there are about 54 active members — which Wiggington wants to display to students who decide to rush in the spring.
“We’re gonna come with a really big map and put pins everywhere we’ve been because … we’ve been I think [to] over 100 countries … DPE is a place to find people who wanna do things like that and to travel,” Wiggington says.
DPE does a lot together including routinely studying together at the library, an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., and going to events in the Harrisonburg area.
DPE went to Rocktown Rallies for Refugees which is a refugee welcome party. About 20 or 30 of DPE’s members attended the event a few weeks ago.
“A lot of people don’t know that Harrisonburg is predominantly a resettlement area for both Syrian refugees and [African] refugees, so … they put on a party to make sure people feel welcome in our community, that they get to meet and see familiar faces,” Wiggington says.
Besides Rocktown Rallies for Refugees, DPE is involved in Fostering Abyssinia, an organization that raises money and other types of funding for the world’s oldest orphanage in Ethiopia. Fostering Abyssinia held a chewata night which DPE attended, at which they raised money by eating Ethiopian food and dancing.
Wiggington recalls seeing all of the different pledge classes in their different colored letters.
“It’s really nice to know that the Gammas … the Gamma class is just as into it as the Alpha class was, if not more, like, seeing the passion continue on through the lines is really awesome,” Wiggington says.
As a member of the Alpha class, Wiggington has high hopes for the future of the organization that she’s so passionate about. Ideally, she hopes for DPE to be a prominent organization in the political science department with composites around the political science building, such as business fraternity composites adorning the walls of Showker.
Wiggington wants DPE to be “something that you [want to] strive to be in in the political science department or even be in as someone who wants to work internationally because for example, at, like, American [University] or GW they’re … the hardest organizations to get in on campus, like American [University] only accepts people with a 3.5 or up GPA … I want it to be … as prestigious as that.”
She also wants DPE to be selective in choosing passionate and intellectual members.
“I know it helps me to be surrounded by those people ’cause it motivates me better and [to] do what I want to do in life, but also I really want it to have … a sturdy foundation,” Wiggington says.
In the two short years that Wiggington has been a member and leader of DPE, she already feels the importance of the fraternity in her life.
“Even being surrounded by people, like that changes you, so that’s why DPE has been so good for me personally is they have changed me into a better person or a more worldly and open minded person,” Wiggington says. “Which I think is a crucial characteristic of especially millennials because we’re literally the next generation of change and being open minded and having those ideals of knowing that our culture isn’t the only one out there or that, like, everyone’s different, is really important.”
Photo provided by: Mikaela Briones, sophomore International Affairs and French double major. Taken in Budapest, Hungary.