Greeks cap off college career with top award

Kevin McCahill

Animal science senior Jonathan Schefers remembers his freshman year Homecoming.

As a new recruit for Alpha Gamma Rho, Schefers helped build the chapter’s float for that year’s parade. A smile crossed his face as he told about how the float went on to win awards in that year’s competition.

For human resources, risk management and insurance senior Kat Baugher, she remembers sitting on a footstool in the living room of Kappa Alpha Theta talking with then-member April Ellwanger, the chapter member who Baugher would later call her “big sis,” as the first step in her greek involvement.

As both students end their undergraduate careers, they looked back at what they had accomplished as part of the greek community, which in turn thanked them. The two were named Greek Man and Woman of the year at the annual Greek Awards held last week.

Minnesota Greek Alumni Partnership President Lorna Fox said the students show the best of the greek population.

“It shows they have been extremely involved in the greek community,” said Fox.

Each chapter nominates one member for the award, then that member sends in an application with an essay on their accomplishments. A group of University officials and alumni then meet and award a winner.

Schefers was a former recruitment chair and president of Alpha Gamma Rho.

During his tenure, he instituted student scholarships and became notable for other accomplishments.

Schefers is an All-American in Dairy Judging, the Vice President of the Gopher Dairy Club, Schefers said, and sat on the board of the Animal Science Career Curriculum.

“I realized I could have a lot of fun in the greek community,” he said. “That’s when I knew I got into something good.”

Schefers maintained a 3.86 GPA into this semester. He hopes to attend graduate school next fall in applied animal genetics.

Schefers got involved in his chapter through his family. His two older brothers were also Alpha Gamma Rho members.

Once he became involved, Schefers didn’t regret it.

“It helped me learn how to interact with a wide range of people,” he said. “It was extremely important for me.”

Baugher also became involved in the greek community by prodding from a sibling.

Her sister was a greek member at Purdue University and invited her to think about going greek. During the spring semester of her freshman year, Baugher did.

“I knew I liked the University, but I wanted to feel closer,” she said.

Baugher found it in Kappa Alpha Theta, where she eventually became Education Deputy and Risk Management Chair.

Then one day, while in the bathroom brushing her teeth, Baugher was asked by a Panhellenic Council member to become Vice President of Risk Management. She did and eventually became the executive vice president.

Baugher is also the chairwoman of the University Greek Partnership Board.

Schefers plans to stay involved with his chapter as an alumnus and said he hopes to impart the knowledge he’s learned to younger members.

“I want people to have the experiences I did when I was younger,” he said.

Fisheries and wildlife senior Scott Mackenthun is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and friend of Schefers for years. Mackenthun considered running against Schefers for chapter president last year, but decided against it.

“When it came down to it, I felt that he was the man for the job,” Mackenthun said. “Whatever he touches turns to gold.”

Schefers is involved in a large number of organizations and groups and is willing to help others, Mackenthun said.

“One of the real strengths is that he knows a lot of people, he networks with a lot of people and it shows a lot of his character,” he said. “He’ll help anyone who needs it. I’ve enjoyed spending four years with him.”

Fox said most of the nominees for the award have plans to stay involved in the greek community after they graduate.

The award can mean a lot for younger members as well, she said.

“It can be very motivating to see (and say), ‘Wow, look at all the neat things I can do,'” Fox said. “Many (applicants) mentioned they had looked up to previous leaders.”

Baugher said she has learned a lot about herself through the ups and downs that come with college, but being part of the greek system meant a lot to her.

“You can be successful in whatever you do if you apply yourself, but it’s even better when you find something you love,” she said.

Students Activities Advisor for Greek Affairs Chad Ellsworth said Baugher was one of the first greek members he met when he started working at the University. He said she has always been really involved on campus.

“She really stood out as a person who is really committed to the greek experience and making it better,” he said.

Baugher is well-known for the 15th Avenue lighting project, which added low-level lighting around Dinkytown as a protection for students.

Baugher said she hopes to continue to work with her chapter – which she refers to as “home” – as an alumnus after graduation.

“I had to come home somewhere,” she said. “But being able to call my sisters my sisters – without their support I couldn’t have done it.”