Junior Jordan Lake performs “The Right Time” at the Mr. Greek competition. Lake wrote and produced the song himself. Photo by Joshua Bessex
Junior Jordan Lake walks onstage donned in baggy sweats, sneakers, and clumsy, oversized boxing gloves.
He attempts to grab the mic but dramatically drops it. His assistant picks it up. He throws his hood off, wipes his brow, and smiles at her.
“Girl, even though you’re as curvy as this microphone, I promise I’d never drop you like that,” he said.
Laughter and cheers erupted; a sign titled “Go Jordan, 17th Ave for Mr. Greek!” bobbed up and down in the crowd. Lake grinned and walked off stage.
Clever pick-up lines were just one portion of Sunday night’s 26th annual Mr. Greek pageant. Hosted by the Alpha Gamma Delta (AGD) sorority, the event raised around $61,000 for Treehouse for Kids, an organization that offers support for foster children, and the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation, an international women’s fraternity that helps women develop leadership, philanthropy, and academic skills. The pageant consists of judging talent, fundraising, the pick-up line, and a response to a randomly selected question the judges ask every contestant.
Contestants from 17 fraternities competed for the title, and Lake managed to walk away with the crown due to his fundraising efforts and musical performance.
But Lake is not actually a fraternity member. Instead, he lives in a college house called the 17th Ave House along with 57 other men. Unlike many fraternities, his living space is strictly dry — members convene weekly for bible studies. The house is a part of a Christian community of college students called Vision 16, which owns five Christian-themed houses in the U-District. Lake said that though the students living there are primarily Christian, the community identifies itself as simply “loving the Lord.” He also said the label of a Christian house is limiting, because not everyone there is necessarily Christian.
“We choose to follow the Lord and follow his word,” Lake said. “But we’re very similar to frats in that we’re all joined together in one house and have a lot of fun.”
In the past, the 17th Ave House has
participated in other Greek fundraising events, but this was the first year they decided to join Mr. Greek.
AGD Philanthropy Chair Holly Knowles said she extended the house an invitation after noticing its positive participation in other Greek events.
“They seem to have a lot of brotherhood, and they function in the same way as a fraternity without being an actual one,” she said. “[Lake] got along with all the other guys, and he came to all the meetings.”
Lake put on a lot of events to raise money himself, which Knowles said shows that he put in the effort to succeed.
“It just shows that if you work really hard, you can win the title,” she said. “It proves that.”
Lake is a noted local pop-rock musician with two albums already released on iTunes. He also leads weekly worship sessions at a local church.
When the opportunity arose to compete, he jumped at the chance to perform one of his singles for the talent portion of the competition. Yet he said he had a few stipulations prior to joining.
“There’s always that preconceived notion of like, ‘Am I accepted into this community?’” he said. “At first, I thought maybe I would be a little discriminated from the guys from other houses — but it turned out instead that we built relationships, and I got to know them and it was a really positive experience.”
Some of his house members participated in the pageant with him, both as accompaniment to his music and in the audience as support. Despite having taken a few piano lessons growing up, Lake didn’t start writing lyrics until his teen years when he received a guitar as a gift. Yet music quickly became a powerful release.
“My passions just flowed over to music,” he said. “I write songs inspired by relationships and personal experiences, so my inspiration is really driven from events in my everyday life or particularly strong thoughts and feelings.”
Lake is a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist. He practices daily — whether it’s rehearsing a song on his album, or simply singing along with the radio. He said he feels most fulfilled by his passion for music when performing in front of an audience.
At the pageant, he chose to perform his single “The Right Time,” a high-energy, catchy song off of his second album.
“Every performed song is meant to bring about a particular emotion to the listener,” he said. “With music, I have the ability to put my emotions into words and eventually in a song — there’s nothing more stimulating than hearing a song that represents my exact life, word for word.”
He released his first album, “A Collection of the Past,” at age 18 and his second, “Consistency,” came out last month. To fundraise for the pageant, all proceeds of his second album’s release concert went toward his Mr. Greek efforts. Combined with hours of letter-writing to family and friends asking for donations, he managed to raise nearly $9,000 to put toward the event.
“He put a lot of effort into fundraising,” said sophomore Ryker Young, Lake’s roommate. “Having him compete was a good way for us as a house to be represented and to show what our house is, and what it stands for.”
Young attended the pageant along with most of Lake’s other housemates. The event, he said, while being attended primarily by Greek students, is one he believes non-Greek students would benefit equally from attending.
“I think that if you’re not in the Greek community, there’s a lot of stereotypes and stigmas people have about the community,” he said. “Coming to Mr. Greek and seeing a lot of effort going into supporting charities and raising money — I definitely have a different appreciation for what the Greek system is really about.”
Ideally, Lake hopes his house will participate in Mr. Greek again next year.
“I think it’s important to support the Greek system and continue to bond with them,” he said. “Each house is its own individual community, in a sense, and times like this really bring everyone together — it was a great experience for me.”
Reach reporter Kirsten Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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