When Jessica Iarocci joined the Beta class of the Phi Sigma Pi Epsilon Nu Chapter, she still had a lot to learn about herself, she said. “People believed in me before I believed in myself.”
It was 2009, and Iarocci was in the second semester of her freshman year at Kennesaw State University. Her school was hosting an organization fair, she said. “I got overwhelmed! There were so many options.”
After the fair, however, some fraternities and other student groups sent information via email. The one from Phi Sigma Pi’s Epsilon Nu Chapter stood out, she said. It talked about Scholarship, Leadership and Fellowship. That piqued her interest.
Iarocci attended an Epsilon Nu information session and, immediately felt it was a good fit, she said. “An Alum (David Rosengrant) helped start the Chapter. I thought, ‘if he’s willing to bring this here and promote diversity ... I’m interested’.”
Right from the get-go she was all about the Fraternity but just didn’t realize it. “My big nominated me for Fellowship Chair!” she said. Iarocci didn’t think she was capable. She was elected anyway. Then she was nominated to represent the Chapter at the 2010 National Convention, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “I can’t drive to Pennsylvania!” she thought. But she and two other Members traveled together, and she even paid her very first turnpike toll.
“And I got to visit (National) Headquarters!”
The involvement continued to grow. Iarocci attended National Convention as the Chapter National Delegate the next two years. She also attended the Alternative Break Project in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2011, and in Houston, Texas in 2012; she became certified in Leadership in Action and as a facilitator, and was named Outstanding Brother at the 2011 Mid-South Regional Conference.
With this progression, it only made sense that Iarocci ended up as a member of the Phi Sigma Pi National Staff. These events, she said, cultivated a passion for meeting Members from across the country.
She started in summer 2013 as a Chapter Consultant. Two years later, she explored an opportunity on the two-person Expansion team. As Colony Development Coordinator, as the position was named at the time, Iarocci began to develop new Chapters. Thus far, she said, she has brought on a dozen Chapters from Utah to Michigan to Pennsylvania and in between, including the newest at Christopher Newport University, to be inducted December 2018.
Though Iarocci became Director of Expansion with Phi Sigma Pi in February of 2017, she admits that she never expected to be with the Fraternity five years later. Much like the rest of her Phi Sigma Pi journey, she said, she didn’t see the opportunities at first. What was meant to be a just-out-of-college job developed into a true passion for helping students reach their potential. A, half a decade later, Iarocci still calls National Headquarters home.
As an exercise and health science major in college, Iarocci had her eyes on physical therapy. “I love people and helping people,” she said, “so PT made made sense.” But, she added, so did working with college students to help them grow. And, along the way, she was growing, too.
“Phi Sigma Pi gives you permission to change,” Iarocci said. “The opportunities don't end when you change your major or divert career paths.”
Now, as an Alumna Member who works for National Staff, Iarocci sees the importance of growth even more clearly, she said. She appreciates the sense of belonging that comes with Fraternity interaction. A student she worked with was on the fence about joining, Iarocci recalled. “I encouraged her to continue. In the end, she became Chapter President. She took on the opportunity to grow and built her confidence.”
A highlight of working in Expansion, Iarocci said, is the positive change she has been able to witness and promote in requiring that Chapters continue to be guided for a full two years. A bigger celebration when Members are Inducted is thanks to Iarocci’s nurture, too. Being part of a Fraternity is a “big deal,” she said. “You are leaving a legacy. We get everyone involved. Friends. Family members. Other Chapters.”
Though the ceremony is private to Members, she said, there is a public banquet afterward. “And there’s cake! It’s all about the cake!” There is something about seeing the Chapter's name on the cake at each reception, she said, that culminates the students’ hard work and signifies a sweet future!
Because Iarocci visits every Chapter three times -- at least once a year -- she travels a good portion of her work time, connecting, directly, with Members. “I have been to 16 states, so far.”
When not in the air or on a campus, Iarocci is centered in Augusta, Georgia, where most on her family tree resides. “We are very family oriented,” she said. She also teaches a Pure Barre workout class and spends quality time with her dachshund, Leo.
But, she said, even during her down times, she tries to make herself available to students, meeting with them on their time.
“I would encourage every Member to make the most of every opportunity in Phi Sigma Pi,” she said. “You never know where it will take you.”