His college roommate’s team leader during the Purdue freshman orientation program introduced the lifelong Ohio State Buckeye fan to Pi Kappa Phi at Purdue.
His father’s Greek experience at Wright State University in Ohio opened his eyes to fraternity life. His mother’s apprehension of fraternities made him skeptical.
But the high school wrestler and valedictorian from Dublin, Ohio, went with a gut feeling when introduced to Greek life as part of his college experience. He did not select his father’s fraternity that had a chapter at Purdue. Rather, he picked his own path, somewhat to the chagrin of his mother.
The chance introduction with the Boiler Gold Rush team leader Ben Walters as well as researching the chapter’s reputation opened doors for Nathan Longo.
That crooked path to Pi Kappa Phi started with Longo’s roommate Pat Cole, who also joined the chapter. Coles’ team leader was Tommy Stotzer, who was a Pi Kapp, too.
It was the chapter’s commitment to service that caught Cole’s attention. That brought Longo into the fold, too.
Now, Longo stands as the top student in Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity out of nearly 12,000 undergraduates at 180 college campuses. He has been named the Phillip Summers Pi Kappa Phi Student of the Year for 2018-19. Longo received the award at the Pi Kapp College for Chapter Officers in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 11.
Longo, who has a 4.0 cumulative GPA in electrical engineering with management and computer science minors, has grown since he joined the chapter in Fall 2016.
Initially, he was his associate member class president. Then he was chapter secretary. That was followed by 2018 chapter archon, for which he was named the 2019 Steven Beering Outstanding Fraternity President at Purdue. He’s just completed a one-year term as president of the Purdue Interfraternity Council. And upon his May 2020 graduation from Purdue, he will be an engineer for ExxonMobil, based in Houston, Texas.
“I honestly just feel humbled,” Longo said about the Student of the Year award. “I have put so much hard work into Pi Kappa Phi, Purdue Greek Life and the University in general. To be recognized for such feels really good.”
He embraces Pi Kappa Phi for various reasons, but particularly for its values.
“I have tried to model my actions and decisions throughout my time in college from Pi Kappa Phi ideals from the fraternity creed and Ritual of Initiation,” he said. “To be recognized for living by those is just humbling.”
His chapter experiences from membership to leadership have helped mold him.
“I hope this recognition inspires younger chapter members to also grow through their fraternity experiences,” he said. “The fraternity has empowered me to strive to be the best scholar, citizen, brother, friend and leader. Pi Kappa Phi has given me unique experiences that I would never have gotten otherwise.”
His leadership as a president of a high-achieving chapter caught the eye of the national fraternity prior to his becoming IFC president. For 2019, he served on the Council of Archons that serves to advise national board and its professional staff.
“The Council offered me perspective and an opportunity to help influence and learn from the National Council and staff,” he said. “It was very eye-opening to offer my point of view and offer assistance. Getting to see some of those ideas come to life is very rewarding, too.”
The impact he has had on campus has been noticed by others.
“Nathan is a tremendous leader who has wisdom and patience well beyond his years” said Brandon Cutler, Purdue associate dean of students for fraternity, sorority and cooperative life. “He is unique in that he has the ability to combine academic, leadership and interpersonal skills at the highest level. He is one of the top student leaders that I have had the opportunity to work with and I anticipate he will have a significant impact on the world.”
But it was that chance meeting with chapter member Ben Walters that opened the door to Longo’s Greek community accomplishments.
“During our first interaction, much of our talk was primarily about school, engineering courses, and both of us coming to Purdue to get an engineering degree, Walters said. “I could tell he had his priorities straight and was excited by the fact that others in Pi Kappa Phi challenged themselves and their brothers academically.
“Throughout the rest of the recruitment process, our conversations pivoted to talk more about our philanthropy and the opportunity for leadership among our peers. Not many potential members would ask in-depth questions on positions I’d held or what it was like to lead a bunch of 18- to 21-year-olds. From that event, I knew he’d not only fit in, but excel with the opportunities in Pi Kappa Phi.”
What impresses Purdue alumnus Walters yet today is how Longo didn’t stray from what brought him to the fraternity in the first place.
“Throughout Nathan’s time at Purdue, his care for others and his personal priorities never wavered,” Walters said. “However, the part that changed the most was his confidence around others. As he started leading a small group of men as associate class president, he learned to take full responsibility for a group. He worked as hard as he could to ensure the success of each individual member for the benefit of the whole group. As he served on the executive council in the chapter, he saw a broader perspective of the greater responsibility we have as members of a community. He decided then that he wanted to be a leading voice.”
Walters , a December 2018 Purdue industrial engineering alumnus and project manager for ClearObject in Indianapolis, has followed Longo’s Purdue and Greek experience He foresaw the honors his protégé earned.
“This isn’t surprising at all,” Walters said. “When you look at the ideal person you want representing your fraternity, your university, and your community, Nate is the one that comes to mind. He has shown humility and generosity in all of his work.”
• Longo becomes the fourth Omega chapter member to receive the national Pi Kappa Phi Student of the Year Award in the last 30 years. He joins Jake Olesen (1989), Steve Holtsclaw (2008) and Dan Cronin (2010) on the list.