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U of M Student Explores Philosophy and Scholarship Among Ruins of Ancient Greece

For release: July 7, 2011
For press information, contact Zak White, www.sigep.org

University of Memphis student Sam Parker Strantz recently participated in a unique study abroad program through Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. The Tragos Quest to Greece is a 10-day journey through Greece with fellow undergraduate members of Sig Ep, alumni mentors, and university faculty. 

Sam Strantz atop the 900-step staircase of the Palamidi Castle, overlooking the old section of the seaport town Nafplion, the first capital of ancient Greece.  In the background are the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
Sam Strantz atop the 900-step staircase of the Palamidi Castle, overlooking the old section of the seaport town Nafplion, the first capital of ancient Greece. In the background are the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Strantz was one of 16 undergraduates selected from a nationwide pool of more than 15,000 applicants. The Quest focuses on Sig Ep’s commitment to breaking stereotypes about Greek-letter organizations and carrying out its mission of building balanced men.

The senior economics major is the son of Jeff and Brenda Strantz of Bartlett. He maintains a 3.7 GPA while serving as Sig Ep chapter president and participating in numerous organizations on campus.

“I really appreciate the chance to spend some time pondering my own philosophy and purpose. I truly found myself on this trip, and that’s not exactly covered in my economics courses,” Strantz said.

“What took me by surprise was how much I gained from the intense philosophical and personal discussions, surrounded by these epic ruins of ancient civilization. We all had these relevant ideas about how to live our lives today.

“Even better was the company of students from all over the U.S. who are both intellectually and athletically gifted. We became extremely close, and I can’t imagine better guys to share this experience with.”

Each participant prepared for the trip by reading three books about ancient Greek philosophy and culture. The learning continued overseas with daily discussions based on scholarly readings and personal experiences.  In the Agora, where Socrates taught, the students discussed the Socratic method of teaching; they held athletic competitions in the original Olympic stadium; and in Delphi, they studied the fraternity’s Ritual, after learning about the Mysteries of Eleusis.

The trip is funded by a grant from the Sig Ep Educational Foundation, which raises money for local and national leadership programs. This experience is made possible by William G. Tragos and his wife Lilli.

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