Andy Strayhorn ’02: Hoping His Fellow Brothers Enjoy the Little Things

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All These Years and He’s Never Found a Better Place to Relax than the Bench Outside the House

My most memorable time as a Sigma Phi Epsilon was by far sitting on the front bench on a nice day. If there’s a better place to relax and people watch when the sun’s out, I haven’t found it yet.

The Bench. To some, it may simply be a place to rest their feet or even a porch decoration, but to Andy Strayhorn '02, the bench that adorned the front porch of Sigma Phi Epsilon meant much more.

“My most memorable time as a Sigma Phi Epsilon was by far sitting on the front bench on a nice day,” he recalls. “If there’s a better place to relax and people watch when the sun’s out, I haven’t found it yet.”

But even before he forged friendships right there on that bench, Andy felt destined to be part of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“My father, Jimmy Strayhorn ’67, was a NC Delta Sig Ep when he was at Carolina, so I decided to check it out,” he remembers of his initial draw to the fraternity. “The first person I met happened to be Bill Seawell ’02, who was also a legacy. My parents actually met at Billy’s parents’ wedding! I took that as a sign and quickly fell in love with the house and all of the guys.”

Inside the house, Andy’s experience was just as special. Moving in during his sophomore year was one of the best decisions he made.

“I think it should be a requirement to live in the house, at least for a little while,” he says. “You get a real feel for the entire college experience and there is no better way to get to know your fellow brothers than to live with them."

And getting to know his brothers was an easy task, no matter the time of day.

“I’m pretty confident that there was always someone awake, hanging out,” he says, laughing.

The brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon not only grew together socially, but Andy recalls learning a lot from the older, more experienced members, especially when it came to academics.

“I was a Biology major, and thank goodness for the older brothers that were also Biology majors,” he recalls. “Brian Trommater ’00 must have told me exactly which professor I should take for 50% of my classes!”

In addition to the great tips he received, Andy feels that his fraternity experience truly was a stepping stone into the real world, teaching important life lessons necessary for success.

“I think being in a fraternity really helps you in the future with any job where you interact with other people from all walks of life,” he says.

Today, Andy puts those lessons to good use. Living in Pinehurst, North Carolina, with his wife Suzanne, and their two girls, Harker and Reese (and a big bulldog named Mayonnaise), Andy operates his own dental practice in Rockingham. When not working, he enjoys most of his days playing with his girls, golfing, hanging at the pool, or spending time at the beach.

No matter how busy he gets, though, Andy always makes time for his beloved alma mater, often returning to campus and the Sigma Phi Epsilon house.

“I go back to Carolina for every home football game and many basketball games,” he explains. “It’s always fun to swing by the house, meet a few brothers, and reminisce for a while.”

Each time Andy goes back to UNC, he is reminded of the opportunities and friendships he developed at Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“I feel like it’s always in the back of my mind to give back to the place that helped develop me into the person I am today,” he explains. “I gained a lot of role models from the house and a lot of lifelong friends. I think it is important to really focus on making an effort to do what we can, when we can, for the people and organizations that allow us to reach our goals in life.”

Knowing his support is helping to create a similar experience for many young men coming through the doors of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Andy hopes they don’t forget to stop and enjoy the little things, too—and follow his advice to spend more time on that front porch bench!