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“SigEp gave me some great role models during and after college”

Most of us have a slew of things we credit to becoming the person we are now. For Brother Dan McCaughey ’99, his Fraternity takes the credit

When I arrived at Penn, I didn’t feel like I fit in very well. I was a hick from a mill town in rural New England. Most people I met at the beginning of freshmen year went to top private or suburban public schools. A lot of them knew man other Penn students before they got there. Most people from my high school didn’t go to college at all, let alone an Ivy League school. I was a lap behind academically, and there were plenty of exclusive social circles where I never felt welcomed.

Sig Ep was refreshingly different from the rest of the school, in my experience at least. Not only did I feel welcomed there right out of the gate, but the brothers did not fit into any of the usual fraternity stereotypes. I think the one common denominator was that everyone at Sig Ep liked to have fun and was really good at it, in a school where that can be a rare trait. But the brothers were all from different parts of the country and different walks of life and had different interests. I thought that those differences were part of the fraternity's strength, and they made it a very welcoming corner of the Penn campus for me - at SigEp it was a good thing not to fit the normal Penn stereotypes because nobody else did either. That made the decision to join SigEp an easy one.

 

I was the chapter President for a year and held other positions including Vice President, house manager, social chair, and not least of all the critical role of keg master. Some of my best memories were the most casual and low-key times from the fraternity:  things like dinner at the house and lunch in the cafeteria with a big crew of brothers on a daily basis, pickup basketball games, marathon card games, and weekly get-togethers for Monday Night Football. I thought those times together brought out the best qualities of the fraternity, with entertaining stories, fun debates, and lots of laughs, which reflected the bonds and fellowship of an extraordinary group of friends.

 

After graduation, I lived in New Orleans and worked as an English teacher at a public high school as a Teach for America Corp. member for two years. After that, I moved back to Massachusetts for law school, where I’ve stayed to practice law. I am a partner in the Boston office of Ropes & Gray, focusing primarily on business and securities litigation. My wife and I live north of Boston and have a seven-year- old daughter and a five-year-old son.

 

Sig Ep gave me some great role models during and after college.  Penn was a very competitive academic environment, and so many of the brothers in our house excelled academically - and later professionally - while balancing that success with a constant ability to have a good time and to be a good person.  I have valued and tried to maintain that balance myself as best I can. I also learned a lot from the very different perspectives and priorities of my fraternity brothers, on things ranging from politics to sports and music, to house improvements, to beer selection for parties, to people we should recruit.  Those were valuable lessons on the benefits of listening to and learning from people with different ideas than your own. Most of all Sig Ep left me with a great group of friends for life.  That includes guys from my class and the surrounding classes with whom I keep in touch (not as regularly as I’d like, but far more regularly than most of my other adult friends).  But a more impressive testament to our crew might be the times when people who haven’t seen each other in many years spend time together as if they haven’t missed a beat, catching up on old times and on life’s intervening developments just like they would have in the old days. That’s always a reminder for me of how lucky we were and are for the good times and great friends that we made in college, even when that increasingly feels like a very long time ago.