Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. is a national fraternity. It was the first Latin fraternity to be founded in the United States. The fraternity is also making history this semester at Montclair State University because for the first time ever, there’s only one active member.
President of Lambda Theta Phi, Aldwing Catano, became the last active member on campus after many of his brothers recently graduated.
“We have a high graduation rate,” said Catano. “So pretty much each semester, the brothers on campus would graduate. A few graduated one semester, a few graduated the next, and it just kept going that way.”
Catano, a senior psychology major, is not only a full-time student, but also works full-time as the program coordinator at the Youth Advocacy Program—a non-profit organization in Paterson, New Jersey that pairs juveniles with mentors as an alternative to being placed in a juvenile detention center.
When asked how he manages his time as the only member of his fraternity, Catano admitted that he gets a lot of support from alumni and founding brothers.
Although he is the only active member on campus, according to Catano, there are two other members on campus who are currently inactive as a result of their demanding work and school schedules. Catano explained that they, along with the alumni, help out with funding and hosting events when they can.
Recently, the organization was re-chartered. After 26 years of service at Montclair State, the one-man chapter defeated the odds as such a dilemma could potentially lead to the downfall of the whole organization.
When asked how an organization is re-chartered, Catano explained how he had to attend three meetings in which he presented to the Student Government Association what the organization has done as a chapter in the last two years and answer why Lambda Theta Phi should stay at Montclair State.
Catano said he didn’t do it alone. With the help of alumni Orlando Castillo, James Romero and founding brother Rey Acevedo, Lambda Theta Phi will continue to provide educational and community service programs at Montclair State.
In an effort to recruit more members, Catano explained that he constantly promotes at the organization’s events as well as through Instagram, email, flyers and word of mouth.
Lambda Theta Phi was founded at Kean University in 1975. According to Catano, the Greek organization was founded at Montclair State in Stone Hall in February of 1991. One of the founding members, who was part of a group that called themselves “The 8 Bad Boys,” was inspired by his brother, who had joined the same fraternity at another college. He and the other founding brothers liked that Lambda Theta Phi strives to help minorities that were privileged enough to have the opportunity to obtain higher education.
When asked why he joined the fraternity, Catano explained that it was after befriending some of the brothers and being inspired by the way they carried themselves on and off campus. After going to an informational event, Catano was able to see the “professional side” of his friends for the first time. Knowing that they were only a couple of years older than him, he knew he wanted to follow their steps so that he could also grow as a professional.
Catano recalled another event that also inspired his decision to join the fraternity.
“I went to an annual picnic with all the brothers and their families,” said Catano. “We ate and played games and it was seeing that bond that made me feel comfortable around them. It was something I knew I wanted to be a part of.”
After crossing over into Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc., Catano eagerly expressed that he’s learned a lot.
“I wouldn’t be able to do my job [at the Youth Advocacy Program] without learning the skills I learned during my undergraduate as a brother,” said Catano. “I see today in my job that I am able to show leadership, network, find resources and how to run events and meetings. I learned a lot from the older alumni.”