Hunter Gillaspie found academic and social support through the queer-inclusive fraternity Delta Lambda Phi

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Hunter Gillaspie is a senior studying Arts and Ethics & Public Policy, and a member of Delta Lambda Phi. The Iowa Challenge asks students to stretch: learn from diverse people, ideas, and experiences.

How do you Stretch at Iowa? 

I Stretch at Iowa by getting as involved as I can with things that I'm passionate about and things that allow me to grow. I joined Delta Lambda Phi during my first semester of my freshman year. I knew that the first and only historically progressive and queer inclusive fraternity was something I wanted to be a part of. I have had a multitude of amazing experiences, made a bunch of connections on campus, and met some of my closest friends through DLP. I think organizations like DLP are important because they provide students with a group of like-minded individuals that share their passions and interests. These types of organizations have been proven to make students more successful academically, feel more included socially, and be more involved in other organizations and activities on campus. DLP also advocates for social justice causes, primarily relating to those that affect the LGBTQ community, but also is a strong ally to other causes and communities. As a member of our organization, you participate in our social activities, plan and execute our educational, philanthropy, and fundraising events, recruit new members, and  enjoy the many benefits of membership in a high-impact queer-focused organization. Examples of our campus programming include our annual LGBT History Month events, our participation in Iowa City Pride,  and our annual drag show on campus, "Kings, Queens & In-Betweens." DLP also provides the opportunity to take on leadership roles on our executive board, fosters personal development through leadership retreats and programs, and leads to lasting friendships and camaraderie between members. We have been recognized for our achievements by receiving the Outstanding Student Organization award at the 2017 Hawkeye Leadership & Service Awards, and have been recognized as having the highest collective GPA of any Greek letter organization on campus. If you're interested in  joining Delta Lambda Phi, reach out to us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or our website, dlp.org/gammagamma! We hold recruitment events at the beginning of every fall and spring semester and we would love to see you there!

How has this improved your experience at Iowa? 

This has improved my social, academic, and personal experience at Iowa in immeasurable ways. Socially, I have met some of my best friends through my involvement in student organizations like Delta Lambda Phi, the Campus Activities Board, and the University of Iowa Student Government. I attribute some of my involvement in these student organizations, as well as my participation  in things like Leadershape, Hawkeye Service Teams, and study abroad, to my initial engagement with DLP. The fraternity allowed me to make connections with people who knew all about these opportunities, allowed me to feel connected to my school and my community, and pushed me to be more ambitious in my academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. Personally, I have formed a large network of support and connections among my fellow students, as well as faculty and staff here at the university and individuals across the nation. DLP is an international fraternity that  has chapters across the US and Canada and members around the world, and UISG has connected me to other student leaders around the country. I have experienced significant personal leadership development through these opportunities during my time as Vice President of DLP, as a committee chair in student government, and in the leadership retreats and programs that have accompanied these roles. Not only has this improved my experience here at Iowa, but it will be valuable as I look ahead my future educational, career, and personal aspirations.

What advice would you give to new students on how to stretch at Iowa?

Get involved. Be present. Show up. Seriously. I know that we get told that a million times coming into college, but I didn't do that enough before coming to Iowa, and once I started, it changed my life.

Get involved. Join student organizations. Join ones that provide you with a support system of like-minded individuals like DLP did for me, but also join ones that broaden your horizons or push your comfort zone like CAB and UISG did for me. Participate in those random things you get emails about. Leadershape, Hawkeye Service Teams, and the India Winterim study abroad program were some of my most impactful and memorable experiences here at Iowa. Be present in everything that you do. People feed off of positive energy and will recognize and share your passion if you show it.

Show up. This is the obvious one. Show up for classes, show up at your extracurricular meetings, show up for campus and community events, show up for your friends and peers and acquaintances that need you.

It's all about people: meeting them, getting to know them, making connections with them, helping them, uplifting them, getting support from them, collaborating with them, forming relationships with them.

What impact do you hope Delta Lambda Phi has on students or the campus?

I hope that Delta Lambda Phi maximizes its impact both internally and externally. Internally, we are most impactful when we provide social, personal, and academic support to our members. We do this by doing all the things I've been saying DLP has done for me, and ideally we do them for every single one of our members. We provide a home on campus for those who might otherwise feel unconnected. Externally, we continue to serve as advocates for the LGBTQ community and other marginalized individuals. We continue to expand our educational and philanthropic programming. We continue to use the platform of our collective voices to advance our beliefs and values. And everything we do, we do it loud and proud.

Where do you want to end up after college or what is your dream job?

I recently submitted applications to several graduate schools to enroll in a Master of Urban Planning & Policy program. Ideally, I will be moving to Chicago to enroll at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall. After completing my graduate studies, I plan to work as an urban planner, and perhaps eventually a public administrator or developer. I could see myself running for public office at some point in the future as well. Most of all, I want to be happy, I want to be surrounded by a loving family and close friends, I want to travel, and I want to have fun.


About the series

The Iowa Challenge encourages students to get the most out of their college experience. We encourage all students to Excel, Stretch, Choose, Engage, and Serve during their time here at Iowa. Learn more about the Iowa Challenge here

The Division of Student Life is creating profiles of students who have shown their work in relation to the Iowa Challenge in some way. If you know a student we should feature, contact studentlife-marketing@uiowa.edu.