Former ELC Spotlight: Josh Gamse
If you had told former educational leadership consultant (ELC) Josh Gamse at the beginning of his college career that after graduation, he would travel to over 40 states and meet Lambda Chi Alpha brothers from all walks of life, he would have told you to get right out of town. But after two years of serving as an ELC, that’s exactly what happened: he got out of town to make a difference.
Gamse joined Lambda Chi during his sophomore year at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County after expressing a want to join something bigger than himself. To Gamse, Lambda Chi was just that place. Over his college career, his love of the organization and his brothers grew as he climbed the executive ranks, starting as the High Gamma as an associate member and eventually ending as the High Alpha.
While serving as High Alpha, Gamse found himself at the Stead Leadership Seminar wondering if his involvement with his fraternity could be more.
“I remember distinctly talking with my High Pi on the phone at the Stead Leadership Seminar and telling him I wanted to work for headquarters,” said Gamse. “I was a junior in college and I knew I wanted to work for headquarters.”
From that point on, Gamse had one goal and one goal only: becoming an ELC. He would consistently ask the ELC assigned to his chapter how to become one, and when the time came to apply, there was no hesitation on either end.
As Gamse became more acclimated to the lifestyle and ways of the position, he found that he was not only able to connect one-on-one with chapters, but also broaden his horizons on a personal level.
“I think one of my favorite things about being a consultant was the travel,” said Gamse. “Before I had been on staff at Lambda Chi Alpha, I had maybe visited 10 states or so. The travel of being a consultant is so wonderful because you get to see so much of the United States and so many of the schools with many students from different backgrounds.”
It was those students who made a real difference in Gamse’s time as an ELC. Quickly, Gamse realized that while Lambda Chi is a business, his role in the organization was connecting with undergraduate brothers on a personal level.
“Whether it was playing video games with students when I wasn’t in meetings or having in-depth conversations with them, or even something as simple as going out for a meal, those were some of the things that I really tried to implement to get better at ‘the building rapport’ portion of my job,” said Gamse.
Gamse encountered many different challenges along his way as an ELC, as well. Investigations and reports were the duty of the ELC and as Gamse describes it, this was the most difficult but helpful part of his growth through his position. Sometimes, those troublesome chapters were the ones which stuck with him.
One such chapter Gamse recalls fondly is the University of Nebraska-Omaha. When he first visited them as a senior consultant, Gamse found a struggling chapter that was just trying to scrape by. The men of Nebraska-Omaha were not bad guys, as Gamse says, they were only having a hard time recruiting and keeping track of their finances. They needed a caring ELC: cue Gamse.
“The second time I visited the chapter, through chapter service funds, I was able to take them bowling,” said Gamse. “It might have been the first true brotherhood event they had really had in a semester and I developed such a great relationship with those guys. I see pictures of the chapter and it has grown so much; guys who I worked with now hold officer positions or graduated, and it’s amazing to see.”
While the first duty of an ELC is to the chapters he visits, in a way, the ELC is the one that reaps the benefits. Gamse is now a graduate student at Indiana State University studying student affairs and higher education with a plan of continuing his professional career in counseling fraternity and sorority life. He also serves as a graduate assistant in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life in Terre Haute, an experience he is convinced he would not have landed without his ELC background.
“I would not be here without Lambda Chi Alpha,” said Gamse. “My supervisor even told me it was my experience working at Lambda Chi Alpha headquarters that sold him on hiring me, and he appreciated me being able to come in with a base understanding of how to work the chapters.”
Though his ELC experience has opened doors, Gamse had to adapt to the lifestyle and the sacrifices that come with the position. His advice to prospective ELCs is to make certain time on the road is what they want. If the answer is yes, he assures it is the experience of a lifetime.
“If you are right out of college and looking to do something to give back to Lambda Chi Alpha, the organization that gave you so much, gave me so much, gave everyone so much, there is literally no better way of doing it than being a consultant,” said Gamese.
The hard work that Gamse and all other ELCs put in is the true backbone of what Lambda Chi Alpha is all about. To be a part of something so life-changing, Gamse says, has shaped his entire life and offered him a family he never knew he needed.
“I think what really surprised me was the connection I would get to make with the brothers on staff with me,” said Gamse. “Recently, I was at a conference and got to see a handful of brothers that I worked with on staff and it felt so great, it felt like I was coming home.”