We cross political, ethnic and social lines. Our brotherhood is our bond and it creates a lasting camaraderie of loyalty and trust."
Roberto N. Ceballos, Chair of The Chicago Alumni Network (CAN), addresses hundreds of friends, family, supporters and guests at the sold out 3rd Annual Sigma Lambda Beta Chicago Alumni Network Scholarship Banquet at The Mayfield on March 19, 2016.
By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
If you would have asked him back in 1995 what he thought his life would look like, it probably would not have included leading one of the largest international Latino fraternity alumni networks of Sigma Lambda Beta, after graduation. Today, Roberto Ceballos, Chair of The Chicago Alumni Network (CAN) of Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity Inc., describes the organization, "As a force to be reckoned with," and for a good cause.
Although The Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc., (SLB) has been around for 30 years, early attempts to unite alumni scattered throughout the Midwest only resulted in very little participation. However, under Roberto's unshakeable vision since 2003, the CAN has become a reinvigorated union of men. It is made up of doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators, policemen, firemen, U.S. veterans, business leaders, entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, community organizers, and so many more who are dedicated most notably to the pillars of: Brotherhood, Scholarship, Service & Cultural Awareness.
Early this Spring, the CAN held the largest alumni reception with over 500 participants, including corporate sponsors, business leaders, organizational members with their families and supporters. The evening included delicious food, inspirational remarks, and an exemplary awards ceremony. In addition, it featured a touching display of patriotism in the recognition of the organization's U.S. Veteran and Armed Force Service Members.
Veteran and Armed Force Members of SLB CAN were recognized in an emotional and stunning display of honor, service and duty by The Quilts of Valor organization, which provides lovingly created handmade pieces of comfort and support to veterans. Among them, Robert Ceballos, a U.S. Army Veteran.
Proceeds from the event supported the development of scholarships to the SLB Brothers of Northwestern University and Marquette University for their outstanding community service work, overall grade point average, and cultural events hosted at the University.
On April 1, 2017, the CAN will host its 4th Annual Scholarship Banquet and once again award scholarships to a few of its undergraduate chapters at several SLB universities in the Midwest including but not limited to: Western Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University, Indiana University, Purdue University and Lewis University.
Roberto and his executive team are currently working to form a non-profit arm of the CAN to continue building a foundation so that all eligible men can have an opportunity to receive college scholarships. The trust fund would be designed to attract high-risk Chicago high school students by compelling them to excel academically with a $1,000.00 yearly scholarship to any university with an active SLB undergraduate chapter.
“We want to go into the schools where we came from and show those young men who may only know the streets that we have done it, we graduated from college and have become successful. We went to college and it wasn’t that hard. If we can do it you can too, Roberto said.
We want to go into the schools where we came from and show those young men who may only know the streets that we have done it, we graduated college and have become successful. We went to college and it wasn’t that hard. If we can do it you can too."
The success of the CAN has been in its dedication to serve others in the community by coming together to honor the pillars of Sigma Lambda Beta. The organization regularly gives back to the community. In addition to giving away five academic scholarships in total thus far, CAN members shipped water to Flint Michigan during the water crisis and strengthened the Avondale neighborhood in Chicago through an organized community cleanup. Roberto shares that the SLB CAN is unique and different than any other organization because it is centered on lifelong legacy and accomplishes so much all at once. As a way to illustrate the commitment of the brotherhood, Roberto shares, "If I land in a strange city in a new airport, I can wear my letters and almost guarantee that someone will recognize it and start talking to me as if we've known each other for years."
Today, SLB alumni chapters in L.A., New York, and Tampa are looking at the CAN as the model chapter and leader in organizing effectively for the greater good of all. "What keeps us winning, Roberto shares, "is that we are making a difference in our communities and leading by example. We even have discussed the idea at one point of starting a charter school. It can be done. Why not?"
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