Three decades after renting a house together during college, five Illinois State University graduates found themselves sharing a roof once again this summer.
Joined by their wives and another fellow Redbird, the friends gathered at a vacation home near Sonoma, California, and spent a long weekend hiking, cooking, and touring wineries together. The group of Illinois State University alumni, who are all members of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, comprised Jordan Zweigoron ’87, Chris Hundley ’87, Tom Hutchison ’87, Jim Jansen ’87, Paul Hesser ’88, and Mark Loveall ’88. They traveled from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and other parts of California for the reunion.
“Although it wasn’t planned this way, it turns out it was 30 years since our graduation when we got together,” Zweigoron said. “(After college) we all went off our separate ways, and some of us saw each other a little over the years and kept in touch, but some of the people hadn’t seen each other since graduation.”
Although many life events, such as having kids and pursuing careers, had transpired in the intervening years, he went on to say it was “just like old times” to be reunited with his former classmates and said he hopes it will become an annual event.
“Everyone kind of looked somewhat the same. No one had changed dramatically. Everyone’s personality traits were still intact. We joked with one other about all the same things,” Zweigoron said.
He then credited their long-standing friendships with playing a major role in creating positive, lasting memories of his time at Illinois State.
Zweigoron admitted that upon first coming to the University he felt many of the fears experienced by freshmen, such as concerns about making friends and not feeling a sense of belonging.
“Then I found Delta Sigma Pi. It was a commitment to join it and to go through the pledge process, but once I was in it, I found friends for life. It kept me going through college, and now looking back on it 30 years later, it’s—number one—amazing how fast time goes. It’s also amazing how some of those relationships can still be intact.”
Zweigoron said it’s important for alumni to nurture Redbird friendships: “As you get older in life, friendships are not around every corner anymore. When you’re in college, everyone in your dorm and the room next to you becomes your friend. People in your classes become your friends. But as you get older, you don’t find good, close friends that often anymore. Especially if you move away, you kind of stray away from some of the close friendships you had in college. I would just so strongly encourage anyone who lost touch with some of their best friends in college—just because life gets in the way—to plan some sort of reunion.”
He also advised current students to get involved with activities and be intentional about building friendships while they are in school.
“Whether it’s a business fraternity or some close-knit club or organization you’re involved with in college, it makes sense to become part of something larger than you are,” said Zweigoron. “You could be part of a university with 20,000 or 40,000 students and still feel very alone and isolated. You need to create these closer bonds with people by common interests.”