Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) graduate assistant Matt Olmsted has always been spontaneous at heart; in his free time he goes on spur-of-the-moment hiking or beach trips, or off on new adventures. But when it comes to that which sparks his curiosity, the Woodbridge, New Jersey native can be relied on to pursue his interests wherever they lead him.
And as a freshman pursuing a degree in criminal justice at Stockton University, his curiosity lead him to Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Latino Fraternity Incorporated, where he pledged as the chapter’s first Caucasian brother. Olmsted remembers being struck by “the way [the brothers] carried themselves and the strength of their bonds for one another” and identified with the organization’s goal to promote cultural awareness and diversity.
“When you join any Greek organization, you find a sense of purpose and family,” he said. Within Olmsted’s fraternity, he found more. “We live by the saying – ‘In order to move forward, one must look back.’” So in order to fully celebrate one another and the diversity within the chapter, the brothers all learned about one another’s roots, background and cultures. The knowledge equipped Olmsted with “an entirely different lens to view myself and my brothers,” and a truer understanding of “what moved these men to carry themselves the way they do and act the way they do.”
The fraternity shaped his entire undergraduate experience, as the brothers fostered relationships with one another, with other fraternities, and the college community, friendships Olmsted predicts will last a lifetime.
“Even now being five hours away, I know I could call one of my brothers up and that they would have my back in a heartbeat,” he said.
Now a first year graduate student, Olmsted is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in the College Student Personal Administration (CSPA) program, which preps students for working in post-secondary education. After discovering JMU’s CSPA program is counseling-based, and focuses on learning through experience with assistantships of the student’s choice in a different offices every year, JMU became Olmsted’s first and only choice for graduate school.
For his first assistantship, Olmsted applied to FSL, wanting to continue his incredible experiences with Greek life throughout graduate school. Olmsted was chosen for the position and now serves as an advisor to the Interfraternity Council (IFC), is the liaison between the IFC and the Inter-Cultural Greek Council (ICGC), and coordinates Leadership U and the FSL Excellence Awards.
He embraces the opportunity to hone his time management and organization skills, as well as develop both his and others leadership and thinking skills. And since the position has constant turnover, he’s had to analyze and think critically about the long-term impact of his decisions and contributions in ways he hasn’t needed to before.
Olmsted also loves coming into work every day to a relaxed but professional office environment, cultivated by his wonderful co-workers.
“It’s rewarding to work with the FSL staff, especially coming from a different state and university, they were so welcoming with open arms…we all connect because we’re passionate about what we do,” Olmsted said, “We have fun in the office but we also care deeply about our work.”
Olmsted counts himself lucky to have stumbled upon his passions early in his undergraduate career, having found a family in Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Latino Fraternity Incorporated as a freshman and a future in student affairs as a sophomore. And luckily for JMU, this determined individual found another home as a Duke, where he brings only his best at FSL.