While it is no secret to us that Texas will forever be our stronghold, Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. spans the entire width of the continental U.S. Brothers live all over—from Seattle, Washington all the way to Miami, Florida. As a University of Florida alumnus, I have been blessed enough to meet brothers across the country encapsulating our values of service, diversity, and leadership. More fortunately, I have seen certain brothers grow and flourish into these values. Sir Nathan “Rockefeller” Morales is one such brother.
When we met, my first thought was, “This kid is way smarter than anyone I know.” He was an aspiring philosopher, so we easily got lost in conversation about education, Star Wars, and, of course, ODPhi.
Nathan joined the Brotherhood in fall 2015. Still fresh in his first year, he sought to join a multicultural organization of brothers with a diverse set of identities.
“I was invited to join a Latino fraternity as a freshman whose values I felt didn’t coincide with my identity as a Guatemalan-American. At the time, I was a closeted bisexual, so I felt safer with ODPhi. They shared my values.”
His identity goes far beyond what people typically think when they think of “identity.” If you asked Nathan how he identifies, he would say first and foremost that he is an academic and a philosopher.
“I think about the future and the way things can be better. I hate the status quo. So I am going to look at anything and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be better.’”
Nathan is a graduate student at Columbia University, largely focusing on social justice and equity issues in philosophy and the education system. To Nathan, diversity is more than just a collection of people’s identities. It is also the critical engagement of those identities.
“By critical, I mean truly listening to what people have to tell me. It’s also questioning the foundations of one’s beliefs, including my own. That is critical engagement. Diversity is a practice.”
Nathan applies these paradigms not only to his scholastic endeavors, but also in his job at New York University as a diversity liaison and project manager. When asked about how he navigates professional spaces he stated, “If I witness any form of injustice such as a microaggression, I do my best to call it out. I’m not afraid to talk about them, but I try to do so by clarifying what people mean, especially when they align with my identities. I can’t hide that I’m brown and I won’t hide that I’m queer, so I really lean into that. And I refuse to work in a space that rejects that—because I exist and deserve to work in a space that acknowledges I exist.”
Having met Nathan seven years ago as a first year philosophy major from Ruskin, Florida, I knew he would be impactful in this organization. As the Director of Compliance, he has worked industriously on our National Constitution revisions. I do not doubt that he will continue to do more for our organization.
Speaking personally though, he has been extremely impactful to myself and my own growth. In our organization, I sense that sometimes older members may feel as if our younger members are unable to teach us or help us grow. My experience with Nathan has proven the opposite. I myself would not be here in my capacity as a Director of Diversity without Nathan’s perpetual wisdom and foresight. I am eternally grateful for this, and I hope our organization continues to grow not only via the inclusion of bright minds like Nathan, but also by willing to learn from each other—like brothers.
— By Luis Feliciano