By Lindsey Morgan Coughlin
Long time Oxford resident Sarah Hopkins never thought she would end up adopting over 200 boys into her family. That is until she became a house mother.
Five years ago, she and her husband Brayn, who was a member of Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Mississippi, attended Phi Kappa Psi’s annual Founders Day event. At the event, Hopkins was approached about being the new house mother for the fraternity. They had not had one in three years and needed one. Hopkins said that she had been looking for a hobby, so it appeared that everything was coming together perfectly.
“I have always liked this fraternity,” Hopkins said. “I actually said this to parents during parents’ weekend, but this fraternity to me, even though it has been a long time since Bryan has been a part of it, it still has the same kind of guys come through. They are the kind of guys that you would take home and introduce to your parents.”
Hopkins went on to say that during her first meeting with the president and vice president at the time, she was told they needed someone to be the grown up voice to talk to the kitchen and cleaning staff, strengthen alumni relations and help plan events such as parents and alumni weekend.
“But it turned out to be a lot more than that,” Hopkins said. “It is a lot of mothering, counseling and friendship. It is like our family has adopted 200-plus boys.”
Hopkins explained that she enjoys the conversations she is able to have with the boys. She said she didn’t think these boys would ask her for relationship advice, but they do. Hopkins said she is always an open ear to them and genuinely wants to help them through things.
“Mrs. Hopkins has made a major impact on my life here at Ole Miss because she has been like a mom to me since I don’t get to see my mom very much because of school,” junior Bryson Beard said. “Whenever I need help or guidance she is always there for me.”
Hopkins said that a lot of happy and fun memories come from Phi Psi. She explained how her entire wedding was filled with Bryan’s fraternity brothers and how she has become best friends with their wives. She emphasized that she wants to continue to see that those long-lasting relationships are formed at the Phi Psi house.
“It is so much fun being Phi Psi’s house mom,” Hopkins said. “It is a job, but it doesn’t feel like one. I get to come to the house and hangout with the boys and form relationships.”
Hopkins said that there are some challenges. She described herself as OCD and being type A. Therefore, when things have to get done and they aren’t, she has to nag the boys. She grew up in a house with all girls, so it can be hard to see things from a guy’s perspective.
Another task that Hopkins does as house mom is finding ways for the members of Phi Psi to be involved in the Oxford community. She is a member of the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford. The fraternity decided to sponsor the Art Print Project for the Charity Ball this year. This project allows them to go into schools once a month and present a masterpiece. She added that some of the guys are going to volunteer in the schools and do art print with junior auxiliary.
“I try to stay plugged into the community because I feel that it is important as I live here to make things better,” Hopkins said.
The most rewarding part of being Phi Psi’s house mom is when they come into the house with a smile on their face and talk to her about life, she said. She said even though it is sad when the seniors graduate, it is rewarding when they come back to visit. She went on to explain how the past senior class and this senior class will hold a special place in her heart. The past senior class were freshman when she first started as house mom and the current senior class was the first class she was able to watch grow from bid day.
“Mrs. Hopkins really fills the gap for some students who are far away from home,” senior Reid Blackstock said. “Every Thanksgiving and Christmas she opens up her home for a holiday dinner for those in the fraternity that are not able to go home for the holidays. She doesn’t want them to spend the holidays alone. She has brought people toothbrushes that live in the house and tells us the best place to go to the doctor. She genuinely wants to know us and our families. Mrs. Hopkins is our mother away from home.”
Hopkins cares about each fraternity member of Phi Psi and wants to help them in any way that she can. The relationships that she has formed within the fraternity will continue to grow and last.
“I hope the boys remember me as someone who is nice, fun, friendly, and someone that they can talk to if they want to,” Hopkins said. “As a whole I want them to remember Bryan and I as friends. People that they can talk to that are not judgmental. I want them to feel comfortable coming to me if they need somebody.”