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Burkhead, Luzzo honored at Greek Week ceremony

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s Monmouth College Greek Man and Woman of the Year are both grateful for the role that Greek life played in their development as students and leaders.

“Greek life teaches you a lot of leadership skills and teaches you a lot of fantastic real-world skills, like how to relate to other people,” said Mary Kate Luzzo ’18 of Orland Park, Ill., who served the past year as president of Alpha Xi Delta. “And it gives you a chance to give back to something bigger than yourself. It’s incredibly rewarding. Greek life and Alpha Xi will always be one of the big things in my heart long after I graduate.”

“It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself and giving back to the community,” said Thomas Burkhead ’18 of Addison, Ill., the 2017-18 president of Zeta Beta Tau. “It’s about having an organization that’s going to hold you accountable for things like academics and your involvement on campus – an organization that helps develop yourself as a leader and know who you are as a person and how you can affect the people around you.”

Luzzo and Burkhead received their honors March 23 at the Fraternity & Sorority Life Awards, which capped off the College’s annual Greek Week.

A business and public relations double major, Luzzo was also named outstanding chapter president.

“Alpha Xi Delta has been one of the biggest facets of my college career,” she said. “It’s helped me find my voice, my confidence in myself. It’s given me an opportunity to be a mentor and role model for younger women, and it’s given me friendships that will last my entire life. I attribute a lot of my success in college to being a member of Alpha Xi Delta, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it now.”

Burkhead transferred to Monmouth after attending UCLA for one year. The music major said ZBT was his way into the College community.

“Being a part of ZBT has been one of the biggest influences of my life,” he said. “(After transferring) I didn’t really know how to find my place on campus. I wasn’t really confident. Having that first letter in the mail – a handwritten letter from my brothers – was really welcoming. I knew that these were people who were going to support me and challenge me and develop me as a person. It’s been very influential to me feeling comfortable enough to put myself out there on campus.”

Luzzo said she appreciates having a “second family” on campus.

“These women have become my second family, my role models, my support system ... because a lot of us are so far away from home,” she said. “Greek life is one of those big things that keeps people on campus. It gives you that second family for when you’re faced with tough times. You look at the support that you’re given, and it keeps you here.”

Burkhead said he fondly recalls philanthropy events for the American Cancer Society, as well as participating in one of his ZBT brother’s composition recitals.

Luzzo herself might be a favorite memory for some of her Alpha Xi sisters. She’s known as the person who wears “goofy” plaid pants to all the major events, such as Homecoming and dances.

“People know me by my plaid pants now – it’s my ‘thing,’” said Luzzo. “People are like, ‘You’re wearing the plaid pants, right?’ And I say, ‘Oh, yes, of course I’m wearing the plaid pants.’”

Monmouth’s Greek Week included several community service projects: a blood drive collected 44 units of blood; more than 120 school supply items were collected for the Monmouth-Roseville School District; and nearly $750 was raised for the district’s teachers.