Beyond the Commissioning Ceremony
With his parents unable to attend his commissioning ceremony due to the pandemic Shenghao (Josh) Zhou (Oregon State University, 2019) knew he could count on support from Jason Feiner (Bradley University, 1997) and Karla Staihar who have become his “local parents” since he joined Delta Lambda Chapter. Feiner and Staihar affixed his rank insignia boards to his uniform as he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in U.S. Army.
“Karla and I are grateful to be Josh’s local family and we are so proud of him. We look forward to continuing to support him on his journey,” said Feiner who was the Delta Lamba Chapter advisor throughout Zhou’s time as an undergraduate.
The ceremony in Old College Hall on the campus of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon was not the first Feiner attended to congratulate Zhou on advancing in his military career. Three years ago, Feiner and Delta Lambda Chapter President Andrew Lovre (Oregon State University, 2021) attended Zhou’s graduation from basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Denise Giesbers, director of veteran support services at Pacific University, coordinated the ceremony. She also presented Zhou with a gift and invited him to ring the bell at Old College Hall, a symbol of the university's history that rings only to commemorate special events.
Motivated by a lifelong interest in science, Zhou began thinking about a career in medicine as a teen when his grandfather’s illness was misdiagnosed. Zhou is now enrolled in medical school with a scholarship from the Army at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington. He appreciates the widespread support he’s found in pursuing his passion.
“Jason and Delt as an organization have supported me tons through the process— including getting recommendation letters from him. Jason didn’t even hesitate. He just wrote my medical school recommendations and my Army commissioning recommendation letters for my scholarship. I’m very thankful for that,” Zhou said.
Zhou also received sound advice from Former Delta Tau Delta International President Jeff Heatherington (Willamette University, 1965) a healthcare and business leader in Oregon. Heatherington has served as a mentor to Zhou not only in his pursuit of a career in health care but also in his role as a volunteer when he served as an assistant chapter advisor to Delta Lamba Chapter at Oregon State working alongside Chapter Advisor Adam Drey (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2007).
After this first year of medical school, Zhou will have three more years of school followed by roughly four years for residency, then he will begin his military payback time as an attending physician. Through a network of Delta Tau Delta alumni, Zhou has found even more support, advice and encouragement as brothers from several different chapters and across generations share their experiences and useful information.
In the Military Delts Facebook group, Delts who serve in the military often come together to celebrate graduations and reaffirm mentoring relationships. “Every single time someone new gets commissioned we’ll do a ceremony then. It’s just really heart-warming—especially as the only one in the United States right now without my parents,” Zhou said.
As a recognized affinity group, Military Delts is uniquely positioned to bring together both alumni and undergraduates in professional networking and extended brotherhood. "We're proud to share the dual connections of being Delts and members of the larger military community. It's stories like the relationship between Josh and Jason that reinforce how those connections help us live our Creed—to more truly love our fellow man and to serve our country," said Major Jaison Desai, U.S. Army (American University, 2006).