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Lambda Theta Phi becomes first Greek fraternity on UNG's Gainesville Campus

October 14, 2019

University of North Georgia (UNG) students Roel Aguilar, Carlos Garcia and Juan Velasquez made history earlier this semester on the University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus.

The trio were inducted as the newest members of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc., becoming the first Latino fraternity at UNG and the first Greek-lettered fraternal organization on the Gainesville Campus.

"We knew there was other Greek fraternities at UNG, but we had no idea how the first Latino fraternity at UNG was going to be a huge impact," said Aguilar, a sophomore from Flowery Branch, Georgia, pursuing a degree in cybersecurity with a minor in international affairs.

The 28-year old Henderson, Texas, native said as the newest fraternity at UNG, the Interfraternity Council and College Panhellenic Council has welcomed them with open arms. He said they also could not have accomplished the monumental move without two Lambda Theta Phi alumni and UNG staff members' help.

Both men are accustomed to establishing the fraternity at colleges and universities in Georgia. Christian Bello Escobar, director of Migrant Programs and Services, was a founding brother at Georgia State University as an undergraduate student. While attaining his master's degree, Bello Escobar helped expand the fraternity at the University of West Georgia, where he met Leri Argueta.

"I was part of the initial group there," said Argueta, assistant director for enrollment diversity at UNG. "I knew Christian when I joined the fraternity. He is a great friend."

Argueta, in turn, helped in expansion efforts for Lambda Theta Phi to Georgia Southern University. He also became Lambda Theta Phi's regional induction officer for the South Atlantic region of Georgia and Florida.

When Argueta arrived at UNG in January 2019, he and Bello Escobar worked together to establish a Lambda Theta Phi chapter on the Gainesville Campus. Argueta worked with the fraternity's national office while Bello Escobar recruited potential members through his connections as director of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). This federally funded program aims to help students from migrant and seasonal farm worker backgrounds to succeed in college.

With Aguilar, Garcia and Velasquez prepared to join Lambda Theta Phi, Argueta acted as pledge master while Bello Escobar assumed the responsibilities of the assistant pledge master. After several months, the three UNG students officially became fraternity brothers and Garcia became the chapter’s first president.

"I had been asked to join other Greek fraternities and other honor societies, but I didn't," said Velasquez, a senior from pursuing a business management degree. "When I started to learn and research the Lambdas and talked to other brothers and attended their events, it made me feel like I belonged. I knew Lambda was the way to go."

The 21-year-old originally from Guatemala hopes to make others men interested in joining Lambda feel the same way.

"When we meet other brothers from other universities, it's like we've always known each other," Velasquez said.

Bello Escobar said it was a great feeling to see it finally come to fruition.

"For the three men to join an organization that's given me a lot, it means a lot to me," he said.

For Argueta, the significance of the first fraternity on the Gainesville Campus being a Latino group is symbolic.

"The fraternity is representative of students that UNG serves," he said, noting 24.47% of the Gainesville Campus student body is designated as Hispanic. "I feel great pride in that."

Aubrey Frazier, director of fraternity and sorority life at UNG, said this is the first step for Fraternity and Sorority Life on the Gainesville Campus. She hopes it will reignite efforts to establish the fraternity's sister organization, Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, Inc. LTA is currently an interest group with hopes of establishing a chapter soon.

In the meantime, Frazier said Lambda Theta Phi may not be the only fraternity on the Gainesville Campus for long.

"We hope to add another fraternity and sorority next year," she said.

For more information, visit the Fraternity and Sorority Life webpage.

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