Barry McNamara  |   Published September 15, 2019

Outstanding Brother

Manny Zavala-Suarez one of 58 members of Phi Delta Theta in the nation to receive the fraternity’s Outstanding Undergraduate Brother award.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Self-described “caffeine addict” Manny Zavala-Suarez ’21 had a feeling Monmouth College might be the right school for him when the College’s Chicago-based admission counselor, Peter Pitts, suggested meeting at a Starbucks.

MANNY ZAVALA-SUAREZ: Learned from his business classes the important role culture plays in shapin... MANNY ZAVALA-SUAREZ: Learned from his business classes the important role culture plays in shaping a successful organization.A graduate of Chicago’s Curie Metropolitan High School, Zavala-Suarez broke out of his comfort zone to leave the city and attend college on the other side of Illinois. That experience has served him well, helping him continue to face new challenges successfully in his first two years at Monmouth. He received the Emerging Greek Male Leader award at last spring’s Greek Week banquet.

Now in his second semester as president of Phi Delta Theta, Zavala-Suarez added another honor over the summer when he was named one of 58 members across the nation to receive the fraternity’s Outstanding Undergraduate Brother award. It is presented for leadership and service to the chapter, campus and community.

“I have been impressed with Manny’s thoughtful manner in which he integrates Phi Delta Theta’s core values into the planning of chapter events,” said Associate Dean of Students Karen Ogorzalek. “He recently completed a strategic plan for the chapter focusing on academics, philanthropic events and membership development. Also, he collaboratively worked with the executive board to create goals that encourage the membership to reach outside their comfort zone. By doing so, they will strengthen their chapter and themselves as individuals.”

Another comfort zone escape

That collective stretch outside the comfort zone was necessary as Phi Delta Theta had fallen on challenging times during Zavala-Suarez’s freshman year.

“We got off to a bad start,” he recalled. “We normally recruit 8-10 members each fall, but that year’s class was just three. We were pretty unorganized, and we just weren’t having as much fun as you’d expect.”

An accounting and business major, Zavala-Suarez took on the fraternity’s treasurer position. He was immediately put in an “intimidating” situation.

“Dues were not being paid regularly, so I made it a point to sit down with each of the members and talk about that individually,” he said. “That was intimidating for a freshman. These were my friends, but I also had to communicate that they had a responsibility.”

His approach paid off, literally, as the fraternity’s income rose 30 percent that year.

“It’s all part of setting the culture,” said Zavala-Suarez. “That’s something I picked up from one of my business classes with (marketing professor) Tom Prince, who taught us about how businesses have successfully gone about changing the culture of their company. What I learned in those classes, I applied to the fraternity.”

Students mentors, such as May graduate Oscar Diaz, also helped sharpen Zavala-Suarez’s leadership acumen, and so have his parents.

“They came to this country to give me a better life,” he said of his mother and father, who immigrated from Mexico. “My parents always taught me to go above and beyond. There are so many opportunities here at Monmouth. You just have to take advantage of them.”

Zavala-Suarez is confident Phi Delta Theta will have its second straight successful recruiting year. His main goal for the fraternity is “to better our image. I want us to be more involved on campus.”

Ogorzalek doesn’t doubt that will happen.

“Manny’s love of Phi Delta Theta and its core values and his desire to have an impact on this campus are unmistakable in each of our meetings,” she said.

Choosing Monmouth

Although Zavala-Suarez typically takes his parents’ words to heart, he didn’t heed their words on at least one occasion.

“My parents wanted me to stay in Chicago for college,” he said, “but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. I knew I wanted to get out and explore, and Monmouth was also the best place for me financially.”

It certainly helped that he fostered a connection with Pitts over coffee.

“In high school, I was that kid who had to have caffeine,” he said. “I was four years ‘running on Dunkin.’ I always had a Dunkin Donuts coffee with me, wherever I went.”

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Textbooks are included in the cost of tuition at Monmouth College. No need to try to plan for an additional expense, and our students start each semester fully prepared for classes. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/tuition-fees/" target="_blank">Tuition & Fees</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/offices/global-engagement/" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> While we have the Wells Theater on campus, the Theatre department also uses the block-box auditorium Fusion Theatre downtown Monmouth.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/theatre/" target="_blank">Theatre</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthscots.com/" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Services</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi, two of the oldest sororities, were founded at Monmouth in the 1860’s. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/only-at-monmouth/educational-garden-farm/" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>