His fraternity brothers in Delta Chi Psi call him Orion, a giant depicted in Greek Mythology as a hunter and constellation in the sky. The nickname is earned and fitting – as junior Alex Tran follows his numerous endeavors with determination.
Tran, a fourth-year junior, is as busy and involved as a college student can get. He is currently the president of Delta Chi Psi, Temple’s first Asian-interest fraternity, where he has been a brother since his freshman year. He is also the former president of the Multicultural Greek council and is involved with Temple’s Asian advocacy groups.
Tran’s Greek adviser Sarah Sepowski said she admires his willingness to exceed expectations. Sepowski, who had weekly meetings with Tran in Fall 2015, noticed that while his goals to strengthen the Temple Greek community seemed unattainable, he found a way to achieve them. Tran even took the time to participate in an optional accreditation process through student activities to develop his chapter leadership.
“He is proactive and not reactive with his organization, which is something a lot of our campus leaders lack,” Sepowski said. “He’s not an aggressive person … he doesn’t get super stressed out, or at least he doesn’t show it to me. In terms of characteristics he’s just a really great asset for the Multicultural council in all areas.”
Delta Chi Psi at Temple is the founding chapter of the fraternity, established in 2004, when its founders noticed a lack of Asian-American heritage on campus. Tran joined but did not yet see himself stepping into a leadership position. But this quickly changed; the following semesters he took treasurer and secretary positions, leading to his term as president. Tran hopes to give back to the fraternity and continue improving its saliency.
He is a member of the fraternity’s national board as well, expanding its scope to other universities. Tran’s roommate and fraternity brother alumnus Trong Nguyen called him a “social butterfly,” and said he is always contacting friends at other schools to hold meetings and expand Delta Chi Psi’s national presence. Sepowski said national chapters rarely call upon undergraduates to advocate outside their school’s chapter, showing how much the fraternity believes in Tran’s leadership.
“I saw being a part of something bigger than myself,” Tran said. “My favorite part about it is being a part of something very small and very new. I get a chance for it to help me grow as much as I can.”
Tran has grown professionally and culturally since becoming a brother. He is Vietnamese-American and said he had limited connection to his heritage living in a primarily white community. He spent part of his childhood in Northeast Philadelphia and later moved to Bensalem with his parents and four siblings, most of whom are currently attending Temple or are alumni.
His background is different from some of his fraternity brothers, who are international students from Asia. Tran said having a diverse group has connected him with his culture and encouraged him to get involved with Asian-American advocacy.
“I definitely see myself staying active with my fraternity and other Asian-American issues,” Tran said. “It’s something that I definitely care about and I want to do more about.”
Tran often attends conferences with other Asian-interest organizations to talk about topics concerning the Asian community. Delta Chi Psi’s pillars of character are dedication, determination and dignity, values Tran described as important to Asian culture and to his own character.
The fraternity’s current focus is an anti-bullying campaign, something Tran says speaks to the disadvantages the members have faced as minority students. It also addresses the hazing behavior associated with Greek institutions.
“I want to do [community service] because we want to, not do things because we have to,” Tran said. “I’m trying to make it so me and my brothers do things because we really care about the cause or the organization, and want to do this to benefit ourselves and other people.”
Nguyen helped recruit Tran for Delta Chi Psi in 2013 and has witnessed his transformation from a 17-year-old freshman to a social, professional leader in the Greek and multicultural community.
“I got to see the growth he experienced and he exhibited,” Nguyen said. “He’s very dedicated towards his goals and very determined to work at it to succeed.”
Tran currently balances these interests and his computer science degree. He has worked three different internships starting his freshman year, including two at start-up web projects and applications and another at J.P. Morgan. He works a dormitory desk job for the University and wrestles on Temple’s club team. At first, his grades took a toll.
“My parents thought I should concentrate on school,” Tran said. “They did see my grades decline at first … they were actually pretty mad about it, but after I pulled my grades back up they saw me actively doing all these things they changed their mind.”
Tran is now excelling in academics. He placed second in a Hackathon, where computer and software programmers collaborate to work on projects using hardware. He likes to travel to Hackathons in different cities to work on his computer skills, network and visit universities where he promotes Delta Chi Psi.