Get to know the National Staff: Blake Hankins
1. Why did you want to join the BYX National Staff?
I honestly feel as though God opened this door for me. Without going into detail, I believe God has been teaching me a lot in the last year. One thing I’ve learned is to follow His direction instead of seeking my own way then trying to fit Him into it. So with BYX, it was pretty clear that I needed to join the team.
Even greater than that, God began to mold my heart to have a passion for this job. I always had a passion for my chapter but started to see the potential of taking that heart to other chapters and campuses. This fraternity has given me more than I could ever give back. My whole purpose in being a national advisor is to serve my chapters the best I can to ensure they live out the vision and purpose of BYX most fully. There are many reasons I joined staff, but the biggest was God doing work. I’m stoked to be a part of a team ready to do some big things for His glory!
2. Why did you want to bring BYX to Tennessee?
Another God thing. He let me be involved in something much bigger than myself, and I’m blessed to have been used in the entire process. Our main goal and vision in bringing BYX to the University of Tennessee was to create an environment where men were able to grow spiritually, socially and academically. We wanted to create a culture that understood you can be a Christian and have fun, succeed and more.
We wanted to be okay together when things were not so pretty, perfect or fun. We wanted to produce a brotherhood where when life was amazing, brothers celebrated, and when life hurt, brothers picked you up and carried you to Christ. There are not many places where men can be real, raw and transparent, so we sought to make such a place on campus. There was a need that BYX met perfectly.
3. What was it like to found a chapter and serve as the founding president?
Humbling and exciting! On paper it looks pretty, but in reality it is extremely challenging. I learned more in that year than I have in most other seasons of my life.
With all that said, I want to be mindful to mention how much fun it was. It was a blast to be in that role and have input in so many areas of our chapter! Much of the goal in that type of role is creating. We were always starting something new. So the most difficult part is making sense of things that have never existed. Whether it is creating a premise around pledgeship, putting together traditions, developing relationships with Greek life or many other new tasks, we had to think about the decision we were making.
It was important to think about the longevity of the things we did as a chapter. What we were involved in was going to affect not only our time in BYX but the brothers of BYX many years down the road. Having that mindset, we wanted to maximize the potential success of our chapter by looking at the why and how in all aspects of our leadership.
One final note I want to mention is that as leaders in our chapter, we knew God was going to do what He wanted in our fraternity so it took pressure off, and we learned to trust. We did our best and trusted God we take care of everything else.
4. How did it feel to see your chapter grow from just the founders to over 100 men in your time on campus?
Wow! What an experience!? Honestly though, I’m not impressed with the quantity but with the quality. It was such an amazing blessing to see and be a part of such amazing growth in quantity and quality. We have some incredible dudes in our chapter and I’m proud to call those men my brothers!
I also think it is an exciting experience to walk through the many changes an organization faces to run efficiently at different levels. BYX at 100-plus active brothers looks a lot different than 20 and many places between. From the beginning, we tried to do things like we were a 200-person chapter. It just took more effort and participation. I believe having the expectation of how it could be helped immensely; not lying to ourselves, but being visionary and hopeful. It was cool to see the chapter adapt along the way, seeing what is most effective but still clinging to the purpose and vision of BYX.
5. What do you like to do with your free time?
Anything fun and outgoing! I love sports (basketball, golf, football, anything SEC, etc.), the outdoors, live music, anything entrepreneurial and TENNESSEE FOOTBALL! (#ButchJones #RisetotheTop #RockyTop)
6. What are some of your goals for your first semester?
Lead and empower my chapters and their leaders the best I can. That looks different at each school, but I am all about serving them, building relationships with them and being available to them. I’m fortunate to have a wide variety of chapters with many differences, but I’m looking forward to all the challenges that come with that. Look out America, BYX at Alabama, Auburn, HBU, Louisiana Tech, Miami, North Texas and Texas State are playing for keeps!
7. Tell us about your family.
My dad passed away a couple of years ago. He was an amazing man of God and Christ follower. I was incredibly close with him. I miss him, but I learned so much from him. He led so beautifully at home, work and church. This broke my family’s hearts, but God definitely showed up in the midst of that tragedy.
I am one of 5 kids! I have an older brother (Nick), a younger brother (Logan) and two younger sisters (Madison and McKenna). Also, my Mom is super legit! She is a great example of servanthood, parenthood and love. She is stronger than most.
Nick has his stuff together and is married to his high school sweetheart, Ashley. They are awesome! He is a media director for a church in Knoxville after 10 years in the news world. She is an RN at UT Hospital (go Vols!) Logan is a killer tennis player and wears me out with no problem. He is in BYX at UT and also a manager for the UT Tennis Team (Go Vols!)
Madison is a sophomore at Tennessee Tech but transferring to UT in the Fall to pursue her passion in teaching (again, Go Vols!) McKenna is a sophomore in high school and works at a pre-school. She is already planning on attending UT (finally, GO VOLS!) Both my sisters are amazingly beautiful! I am super close to all of my family!
8. What did you study at Tennessee?
I received my degree in marketing and concentration in entrepreneurship.
9. What do you hope to do after BYX?
My ultimate goal professionally is to be some sort of serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist hybrid. I understand I am not going to wake up one day at that point, but I look forward to enjoying journey in getting there. Whatever I can do that is most entrepreneurial will likely be the best fit for me. I’m learning to lean into God in my career choices and follow His direction.
10. In Texas, we have our own UT down in Austin. What are your thoughts on that?
Is this question trying to get people to hate me? What I’m about to say is not out of lack of respect for the University of Texas or those associated. I say these things because I love you and want you to know the truth. I also cannot deny the love I have for my beloved UT (Tennessee).
The University of Tennessee is the official UT for a couple reasons:
- The University of Tennessee was founded on September 10, 1794, more than 50 years before Texas was even a state (1845.) University of Texas founding was in 1883.
- Do the names Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk and Andrew Jackson sound familiar? President James K. Polk (a Tennessean) annexed Texas and brought it in to the United States. Davy Crockett and Volunteers held off Mexico at the Alamo. Texas wouldn’t exist without Tennessee heroes like Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett, among others. Without these Tennesseans this conversation would be about the real UM (University of Mexico).
- Multiple logos/marks Texas uses or tries to use were originally The University of Tennessee’s (interlocking UT, power T, orange and white, etc.).
- We have more national championships in football.
11. What is your favorite memory from college?
Anything BYX related ranging from formals, date parties, mixers, homecoming, All Sing with sororities, Initiation Weekend or BYX rave part 1,2 and 3. Second Thursday Worship Nights, Island Week and Party and anything at the house. The list could go on and on. I had a blast!
12. What are your thoughts and opinions on duck ponds?
They seem pretty cool…