The following interview was done by Joel Zeni, a member of the volunteer Cornerstones Task Force, and an active member of the Oregon State Chapter. In this article, Joel (JZ) interviews Jay Geshay (JG) about his experience as an undergraduate & how that experience has shaped his life. Brother Geshay was initiated in 1980 at Purdue, has received the Order of Pythagoras & the Award of Merit, and is currently Senior Vice President of Community Planning and Strategic Initiatives with United Way of Central Indiana . Enjoy!
JZ: Jay, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
JG: Thanks for asking Joel.
JZ: You were initiated in 1979 at Purdue, and held the undergraduate positions of Pledge Class President, Sentinel, and have gone on to volunteer as an Alumni in the role of House Corporation Board President. Would you share with me a couple of your most treasured memories of being an active member?
JG: To me, it’s all about relationships. My favorite times were just the normal, everyday times that I spent with my brothers, eating lunch and joking around, studying until all hours of the night for difficult exams. Really just staying connected with my brothers was my favorite aspect of the brotherhood.
JZ: Tell me about the three most important experiences you had an an active member.
JG: The most important Acacia experiences as an undergraduate was when I was the pledge president in 1979. It taught me about being a leader of my peers and about how to handle the stress of being in the spot light.
Another great experience I had was living in a house with fifty brother who have different life experiences, were raised differently, and communicate differently. The diversity of my Acacia brothers really helped me understand and appreciate differences in others.
Another great aspect of Acacia was the fun social activities and friendships, just the day to day life was an experience that I always enjoyed.
JZ: So after graduation what was your path? Would you talk about how you got to where you are today?
JG: Well I graduated from Purdue in 1982 and then when to Chicago to get an MBA at Northwestern. After getting my MBA I started a business with a friends. For 15 years I ran this business with the help from all the skills that I learned from Acacia.
After receiving a Masters of Divinity, I accepted the position that I have now which is the Senior Vice President of Community Planning and Strategic Initiatives with United Way of Central Indiana. I have had this job for the last five years.
JZ: You talked about obtaining important skills and principles from Acacia to run your business and your job at United Way, what were they?
JG: There are three principles that I have embraced since being an undergrad.
The most important was the success of your brother. If you help other succeed, you will succeed.
Another important principle is maintaining a strong reputation with everyone you meet.
Finally a principal that sets Acacia apart from the rest is the focus on service to the community. This principal is also a key principal of United Way.
JZ: Knowing what you do now, what additional experiences would you recommend Acacian’s to pursue both undergraduates and Alumni?
JG: I would share with my fellow brother to seek opportunities to serve others and get involved in house, school and community activities.
JZ: If there is just one “Life Lesson” that you believe in, what would that be?
JG: Life is about relationships. Build, nurture, and enjoy them.
JZ: One of the main aspects of Cornerstones is life long learning, what has your approach been to lifelong learning?
JG: Ask more than you tell, and don’t give up wondering why!
JZ: Wow – it seems like all of these lessons are at the forefront of your mind.
JG: They really are because these are lessons I use everyday.
JZ: Well thank you for your involvement over the years, and for your time today.
JG:My pleasure, thanks again for asking.