The Lambda Chi Alpha Connection: Making the Move to a Big City

Featured photo courtesy of Big Bus-San Francisco 

When you join Lambda Chi Alpha, you are automatically joining a brotherhood for life. Through this brotherhood come many new connections and friendships that can help in ways you never thought possible.

One of these comes in the form of a network wherever you might travel, or more importantly, move. Below are four very different stories of how members made their way to a big city, but one thing is the same: each utilized the network they created through Lambda Chi Alpha to help them settle into their new lives.

They now share their advice and experiences in hopes that other members will be able to take the leap into the unknown with the love and support of their brotherhood.

John Durham

John Durham (Georgetown alumnus) moved to San Francisco 26 years ago, and he has never looked back. Originally from Atlanta, Durham made the move out west for a job, but soon found a home among the hustle and bustle and  countless interesting people in the Bay Area.

While the thriving metropolis has become home for Durham, he says that his Lambda Chi experience and the network he created played a key role in his success and getting to the big city.

Durham loves the feel of San Francisco because of all the culture and opportunity the city has to offer.

“I think that it’s Lambda Chi and also the Greek world that you have to think about the power of both,” said Durham. “You meet interesting people along the way, you find out where they went to school; if they are a Lambda Chi, that’s great, you make an instant connection, but if they are Greek, we talk about the power of fraternity.”

Durham assures that going Greek was one of the best decisions he made in his life, and encourages current brothers to realize the depth of the network they have joined.

Now as the CEO/Managing Partner of Catalyst s+f, a marketing firm in the heart of the city, Durham sees the power of connections and networking every day. From this, he gives this advice to brothers: do not overestimate the power of the informational interview and how far a simple connection with a fellow Lambda Chi will take you.

“People have lost the art of asking for help in a most gracious way,” stated Durham. “Once you become a member of a Greek organization, and particularly the pride of Lambda Chi, you have an obligation to give and to help.”

For any brother thinking of making the move to a big city, Durham encourages not only the use of a strong network, but the drive to learn new things and experience all of the life a city has to offer.

Durham’s door is always open for a brother in need and the opportunity is there for the taking.

“I just think it’s a wonderful experience (Greek Life), and I’ve never looked back,” said Durham. “I’ve never second-guessed it; it’s one of the highlights of my life.”

Nick Cutelli

When Nick Cutelli first met the members of Lambda Chi Alpha his freshman year at Southeast Missouri State University, he did not accept his bid. He thought Greek Life would not serve a purpose in his life.

Fast-forward to today, and that decision to take a second look at the fraternity has made all the difference in the entertainment guru’s life.

As Cutelli explains, he had big plans to go into psychology in college, but something felt just a little off. His chapter brothers urged him to reevaluate this decision and consider something he hadn’t for a long time: acting.

Cutelli says that his involvement with Lambda Chi Alpha was the push he needed to follow his passion for acting. Photo courtesy of Nick Cutelli.

From the support of his brothers, that’s exactly what Cutelli did. The Missouri native moved to the East Coast following graduation and began his career in theater. After a few other moves across the country, which included theater in St. Louis and comedy in Chicago, Cutelli knew it was time to make the big move to Los Angeles.

Now, Cutelli is living his dream as an actor, writer, and television host in the heart of the entertainment industry. The days of work vary for Cutelli, which is something he says that he enjoys; some days, he could be acting or voice recording, others he could be writing..

But he has never forgotten the bond of brotherhood and the encouragement he received from his chapter brothers to pursue what he was most passionate about.

Because of this, Cutelli says he tries to give back in any way he can, including his involvement with the local Loyola Marymount University chapter on their alumni board.

Through this upheld connection with fellow brothers, Cutelli has met many interesting and accomplished members, including his current entertainment lawyer.

“It’s kind of cool because we had coffee and it’s kind of neat when you sit down, and the first thing is, ‘what do you need’,” said Cutelli. “We’ve never really met before but we have the fraternity connection, and we’ve gone through I-Week and ritual, so automatically we have that connection.”

Cutelli was able to realize his passion in life, and will never forget the role Lambda Chi Alpha played in that.

“If it wasn’t for Lambda Chi Alpha, I wouldn’t be in L.A.,” assured Cutelli. “If I wasn’t part of this fraternity, I would have no clue where I would be; it got me in the mindset of what I wanted to do, and I got that support and made me who I am today.”

Justin Friend

Friend began his journey after college as an Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC). When his service to IHQ was complete, Friend decided it was time to put down some grass roots and take the jump into the tech world at Salesforce in Indianapolis.

Following his time there working with the marketing cloud, Friend was relocated to San Francisco, where he now serves as a manager for enablement for global customer success. In this role, he completes all tasks from on-boarding to podcasting to ensuring that his employees have the right tools to succeed at their jobs.

Friend says that if not for his time on professional staff, he would not have a job he loves in a city that he loves.

Since moving to San Francisco, Friend has flourished and found his home.

“I love San Francisco, I feel like I can be myself here,” said Friend. “There’s always something going on; it’s a big city, but it feels small, it’s not like it takes 10 years to get somewhere.

“I think that like every day at my job is not the same, every day in San Francisco has not been the same.”

In Friend’s words, he feels that he is a true millennial, which has helped him immensely in the constantly-changing world of Salesforce. To brothers about to graduate college or young alums looking to break into the job world, Friend sees youth as an advantage.

“It’s definitely an advantage of being a young alum, we are not afraid to go after what we think is ours,” said Friend. “I think that’s just the skillset of knowing what you want and doing anything you can to get it is the true nature of our generation.”

Jimmy Long

While Long also started life after graduation on the IHQ track, he soon found that sometimes going after what seems like an impossible dream is the first step to the rest of your life.

After serving two and a half years as Associate Director of Communications at IHQ, Long packed all of his belongings in a van and made the cross-country trip to San Francisco. Though he was living on another member’s couch, he knew that this was a step that he needed to take for his future.

Long says he is grateful to the fraternity for giving him the confidence and support he needed to make the move cross-country. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Long.

“When I first moved out here, I didn’t have a job,” said Long. “I always told myself that I would never move to a new city without a job, and one day it just hit me and I said to myself, ‘If I don’t move now, when am I going to do it’.”

While there were a lot of unknowns, Long made the best of the situation and relied on the help of his Lambda Chi network in the Bay Area.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself, the people around me, and what I’m able to do all through moving out here, living on a friend’s couch, working as a barista to hold me over,” said Long. “There have been so many steps I never thought I would be able to do.

“Because I moved out here with the support of the fraternity and the support of my friends and family, I was able to do it and completed one of my dreams.”

Now, Long works for Lyft headquarters and has embraced being a young alum in a city that he loves.

“Being part of Lambda Chi has been one of the most influential experiences of my life,” assured Long. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I wouldn’t be where I am without Lambda Chi.”


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