SAE adviser leads by example, receives national recognition

When Brad Sweet was still the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) adviser at Wichita State he would get off work at 5:30 p.m. and wait in the downtown area for meetings that started at 7 p.m. once a week. Instead of sitting around not doing anything, Sweet said he decided to use the time to meet one-on-one with SAE members in order to get to know them better.

“When I started doing it, I just thought, ‘Well golly, everyone ought to do this,’” Sweet said.

He advised SAE from the fall of 2013 until last spring, and was one of 18 advisers who recently received the Outstanding Chapter Adviser Award from the 2014-15 national annual competition.

Sweet received the award for outstanding service and for diligence and enthusiasm in administering his responsibilities to help the chapter become as self-sufficient as possible.

The hands-off policy Sweet administered gave SAE President Nathan Lohkamp and other members of the chapter ownership in final decisions.

“He had a great understanding that it’s our chapter, not his,” Lohkamp said. “It takes a very wise and understanding person to lead so many people in that way.”

When he started, Sweet said he was worried because he wasn’t sure if he could fill the responsibilities of the last SAE adviser who had been with the WSU chapter for 20 years.

Sweet went to every Monday night chapter meeting, wrote newsletters on a regular basis to SAE alumni, helped facilitate the basement remodeling of the chapter house, gave five-minute life lesson sessions at every meeting, helped alumni donate to SAE students in a Christmas campaign, connected graduates with an alumnus in their field, and met one-on-one with approximately 50 members.

Senior Brayley Bazzelle said Sweet’s “life lesson” advice about investing was beneficial.

“[Beforehand] I was more concerned about right now and not the future,” Bazzelle said.

Sweet said he taught the members how to be “millionaires” by saving 10 percent of their earnings every paycheck and showed them the benefits of long-term compound interest.

The “life lessons” were a common occurrence at meetings, and Sweet said they included how to act appropriately when a police officer pulls you over, lessons on drinking and not doing multiple shots of liquor, and he even taught them to walk between their girlfriend and the street when walking on a sidewalk.

Bazzelle and Lohkamp met with Sweet during his one-on-one sessions with members, which usually lasted about 10 minutes.

Sweet stepped down as adviser but still helps facilitate conversation between the fraternity and about 600 alumni.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have more than one good sit down with Brad,” Lohkamp said. “Most are about the fraternity, but oftentimes we get off subject and talk about personal lives. He has a genuine interest in how others around him feel and cares about our well-being.”