Healthcare pre-professional fraternity Alpha Iota Gamma to start this spring

Dorian DeBose | Contributing Reporter

Washington University’s new healthcare pre-professional fraternity, Alpha Iota Gamma, is recruiting its first member class this semester.

Alpha Iota Gamma (AIR) originally began as the club Health X Business (pronounced “Health by Business”). In rebranding from a club focused on medicine and business to a professional fraternity, AIR will now include public health policy, biotechnology and other related healthcare industry fields.

“We just became a lot more interdisciplinary, and we wanted to attract a larger, more diverse member base,” sophomore president Jeff Chen said. “We got very lucky in that, at the right time, we heard about Alpha Iota Gamma at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s actually the first chapter. There [at the time] was no second chapter. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to expand and rebrand ourselves as a professional fraternity.”

According to Chen, Health X Business was seen as niche and struggled to reach a diverse array of student interests. While still operating as Health X Business, the group’s meetings garnered around 10 to 20 people, but the first information session for AIR had a turnout of between 30 and 40 people.

“Our original rationale for a name change was that the name Health X Business…naturally turned away a lot of pre-meds,” Chen said. “It really only attracted people who were interested in specifically health and business.”

To successfully implement the transition, AIR focused on assembling an executive board to assist with spring recruitment.

“We tried to recruit more board members because originally there were only six of us,” Chen said. “In the end, we ended up [taking] 13 members, nine of which became board members. The other four we took as early, non-exec members to help with rush this year.”

Recruitment for the fraternity will follow the format used by many pre-professional fraternities on campus.

“It’s very much like a business fraternity,” sophomore and Co-Recruitment Chair Sanjna Tripathy said. “We hold a variety of different events to try and get to know people and have cuts at each stage to ultimately decide who we want to give bids out to.”

In addition to reaching out to students with different academic interests, AIR is trying to market to students of all years.

“A big point is that we’re trying to reach all different grade levels,” freshman Lucy Tian, marketing chair of AIR, said. “We painted the Underpass to try to reach out to underclassmen. We also posted fliers all around the Village because we’re also trying to get upperclassmen to join the club.”

According to Tian, these marketing efforts have been successful so far.

“More than 100 people responded to our Facebook event, saying that they would come out and rush,” Tian said. “We got pretty good numbers, considering that not everyone who responds saying they’ll come actually does.”

Chen hopes that interest in AIR will increase as their presence on campus becomes more well-known.

“I think our name really hasn’t gotten out there yet, but I do believe that [if] we keep the quality of our events good and we hold rush again next year, we’ll probably grow in popularity in coming semesters,” he said.

Chen expressed optimism that the fraternity’s unique focus will lead it in a positive direction.

“At its core, it’s a fraternity. It’s a network of people where you can meet similar (but not necessarily like-minded) people,” Chen said. “Everyone is united by an interest in the field of healthcare, but everyone has different interests that you can learn from.”