Senior Spotlight: Approvato embraces early adversity

By Hannah Newman

COLLEGE is a time for students to find themselves through the array of opportunities provided; however, some find themselves through the people they meet and by stepping outside of their comfort zone.

For senior information systems major Tyler Approvato, his peers were the motivation he needed to be a leader, not just for himself, but for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., a Greek organization that is a part of the Divine Nine: the nine organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council devoted to educating and uplifting the Black community from racial inequalities.

“We aren’t what we are raised to be or what people tell us to be. We are who we want to be and what we want to do, and I think all of those things in nature is to look at people from the inside, not the out,” said Approvato. 

Approvato arrived at college unprepared for its reality. As a first-generation college student, he came into higher education uncertain of what he would get out of his experience. He was nearly failing all of his classes, until he met some of the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. 

The brothers inspired Approvato not just to make something of himself in college, but to find a career path better suited for him. Having been a computer science major since the beginning of his college experience, Approvato then switched his major to information systems, allowing him more opportunities to communicate with people, something he wanted to pursue in his career. 

The guidance given to Approvato by his future brothers lit the path that brought his grades up, giving him the GPA required to become a part of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. 

Approvato said he now wants manage a company that involves coding or data analytics as a result of switching majors.

“Prior to joining, I would quit and give up on a lot of things…. After failing so many classes I knew I didn’t want to do that. [After] thinking that I could join Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., I could do anything, that was my mindset so I did that,” said Approvato. “I became a lot more confident and set a lot more goals for myself.”

After finding academic stability, Approvato became a brother of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. his junior year. Joining the fraternity gave him a needed dose of self confidence now that he had found an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than just himself.

Approvato fell in love with the concept of Greek Life the further he got into his fraternity experience. He learned a variety of skills that he could apply to other aspects of his life, such as time management and how to embody what he believes in.

The motto of his fraternity is, “We are devoted to the inclusive ‘we’ rather than the exclusive ‘you,’” meaning that a person is judged based on their personality and who they are rather than their physical characteristics. The brothers valued Approvato’s character and proved to him that inclusivity is as real, alive and active as people make it out to be.

His character and contributions were valued so highly within the fraternity during the short time he was a brother that he was elected president last semester. 

Junior business administration major and brother of Approvato, Wade Hyshaw, said, “He has always been an open person to go to no matter what the issue is. He’s a main reason why we are close with our interests because he is willing to stretch out his hand and build that firm connection. His term as president has defined the brotherhood and the motivation to do what needs to be done.”

During his term as president, Approvato has hosted roughly 20, events including Miss Phi Beta Sigma, one of the fraternity’s biggest events where Rider students volunteer to compete in a pageant. 

Senior entrepreneurial studies major and 2022-23 winner of Miss Phi Beta Sigma Kayelena Brimage said, “I think Tyler has spread inclusivity around Rider’s campus because of the friendships and relationships he has made over his years at college and I think that he radiates good energy and never has any enemies. He makes a point to want to get to know every chapter and organization on Rider’s campus, which is why I think he is such a well-rounded individual in both Greek Life and at Rider.”

Approvato has proven to himself and his community that change is possible as soon as impossible thoughts can become a source of motivation, not frustration.

“I’m here to show that it does not matter who you are, if you want it you can have it,” Approvato said. 

This article is part of The Rider News’ Senior Spotlight series, showcasing the college experiences and future plans of seniors across campus. 

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