Our story is one of surprising circumstances, unlikely friends, and an unfolding destiny. In the fall of 2001, three of the nine Founders – Sam Khammanivong, Michael To, and Henry Truong – rented a car for a weekend trip to Austin, Texas. A few months earlier, Michael had recognized a need in the community for the understanding of Asian culture and its modern day application, but was unsure of how such a need could be addressed. In mid-September, the solution was framed by the emergence of an Asian-interest sorority. Initially, the idea was to accompany the group of women who would become Phi Delta Alpha, now our sister organization. However, the adventure the first three Founders shared during a November weekend eventually became the catalyst for Tau Kappa Omega.
Founders Sam Khammanivong, Michael To, and Henry Truong had not been close friends before the Austin trip. However, after a serendipitous weekend that involved a speeding ticket, a wedding reception in Houston, and conversations that could only take place in a car still speeding along on the road, an undeniable bond had been formed. Recognizing that no existing organization could provide the depth and structure to effectively embody the vision of a group that would redefine Brotherhood, the first three Founders agreed that an Asian-interest fraternity would be a natural choice to share the kind of bond they had developed between them. Upon returning to Norman, the three set out to put their plans in motion.
Development and integration
Instead of a rapid development toward building an organization, an approach to foster lasting bonds of Brotherhood was emphasized. As a result, the growth of Tau Kappa Omega in the early months was very gradual. By January 2002, Founders John Phan, David Le, Dinh Ngo, Minh Le, and Brian Gi had committed to the new endeavor. However, there were few activities or meetings among the strangers who shared a common belief about Brotherhood, and a feeling that the group was not complete yet remained. Then, shortly after a Valentine’s Day social with Phi Delta Alpha, Michael Cao agreed to join as the ninth and final Founding Father of Tau Kappa Omega. On March 9, 2002, the University of Oklahoma officially recognized Tau Kappa Omega as one of its fraternities.
Remarkably, the nine Founding Fathers were not close friends before the fraternity. Often, many of the new Brothers do not know each other very well prior to their meeting within the fraternity. It remains the pledging process that forms the bonds between complete strangers and turns them into true Brothers. The entire experience of being a Tau Kappa Omega member has always been about what is within each individual; as one member has observed, “This is a fraternity built from the inside out.” From ceremonies to unforgettable moments at seemingly random locations or inside an invariably speeding car, each memory shared between each brother only serves to add onto the eternal bonds of Brotherhood.