On Monday, April 15, an interview took place with 3 sorority sisters: Maya Norton, Jeryn Lindsay and Daeja Thompson, who are a part of the Nu Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The Nu Rho Chapter is a smaller entity of Alpha Kappa Alpha that focuses on encouraging high scholastic and ethical standards, promoting unity and friendship among college women, along with studying and helping alleviate problems that center around girls and women to better their social stature by maintaining a progressive interest in college life, and, most importantly, a “service to all of mankind,” an oath that they stand by. The main goal of this organization is to give back or help the community in any way they can.
This is shown through programs that implement study habits or study tips to help other students. Not only do they help others, but they strongly believe that academics are important for all women. At UNCG, the women of this organization use their platform to impact the campus as well as the Greensboro community itself.
This sorority was founded in 1908, when Howard University’s Ethel Hedgeman Lyle had a vision to create a support system or network for college women with a similar mindset of uniting a team, or more specifically sisterhood, of African American women, to elevate and use their talents as well as strengths to help students or others in the Greensboro community.
In 1908, her vision became a reality, when Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) was founded and became the first African American Greek-letter sorority at UNCG. With AKA officially being founded at Howard, AKA’s members increased to more than 290,000 collegiate members and alumnae that constituted 1,007 chapters in 42 states and expanded nationally as well, to the District of Columbia, the U.S Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Germany, Liberia, South Korea, Japan, Canada, South Africa and even the Middle East.
Due to their belief, Hedgeman, along with other founding members, worked to honor what she called “an everlasting debt to raise them [African Americans] up and make them better.”
The three sorority sisters not only delved into the history of their sorority and what they stand for, but even discussed how, although the sorority starts in college, that is not where it ends.
For many sorority sisters, it is just the beginning of a life-long sisterhood/friendship for them. Lindsay, one of the sorority sisters, expanded on what this meant for her by giving an example of an experience that she had outside of UNCG. She told the Carolinian that she had been attempting to purchase a meal at Waffle House, late at night and out of state. Despite placing her order, the employee had told her that the kitchen had already closed up.
Much to her surprise, another woman that happened to be there offered her meal to Lindsay after recognizing that she was a part of the AKA sorority which the woman had also been a part of. This experience helped to explain that no matter how far away from the AKA you are, the chances of meeting another fellow sister are likely. AKA sisters treat their fellow sisters as if they are practically a second family to them.
Lindsay states, “It was beautiful, and you can have that type of connection anywhere you go.” She praises how welcoming and friendly many fellow or previous sisters are when interacting with them.
As the interview continued, when asked what drew them to this specific sorority out of all the rest, Norton said, “Although there were multiple Greeks [sorority representatives] on campus at the time, the ladies in the pink and green (AKA) stood out the most to me. And from that point on, I became interested. The impact that they left on me and so many others made me ask ‘How can I be like that? How can I can impact people?’” Norton further discussed how she strongly believed that people should impact and inspire others everyday and if you are not doing that, then you are not reaching your full potential.
Another big topic that she focused on were minorities, specifically African American women like herself and others. Norton takes her position as a sorority sister very seriously, as she feels she can be a representation or an example for other young African American girls or women in her community. She states, “How can I go back to my community which doesn’t have all the resources that many other communities have? How can I go back and inspire others with my journey to success as they try to find theirs?”
As the girls explained their many responsibilities as Alpha women, they were asked whether it was difficult to balance their time between their classes and responsibilities outside of school. Thompson stated, “Being a part of our organization, we uplift one another, it’s something that we are supporting, it’s the first part of our purpose.” She explained this when regarding academics and responsibilities that they have as sorority sisters.
They established that their academics are just as important to them as their responsibilities, and that finding a balance between the two can be hard at first. It is different for everyone when it comes to their mentality and what they can handle.
Additionally, she says that her sorority sisters are very supportive of one another when it comes to their studies or academics in general. If she struggles with one subject or another, there may be another sorority sister that is stronger in that subject and will help her. Thompson talks about how their sisterhood works together as a team, as they look out for one another. By stating, “My sisters as a whole, they’re always making sure that I’m on top of [my classes], just as I am making sure that I’m on top of things that need to be taken care of.” She continues, “Making sure that we’re continuously aligning ourselves with our values and our purpose.”
As the interview shifted to discussing not only their responsibilities when it comes to volunteering or helping the community in any way they can, they also discussed some stereotypes that are associated with sorority life. They explained that some outsiders that are not familiar with their organization tend to assume things due to it being an all African American sorority.
They discuss the many stereotypes or assumptions that people have said to them. Some examples that they gave included, “Because we’re an all African American sorority, people assume we only [exclusively aid] the needs of African Americans, when that’s not the case. We’re focused on creating opportunities for everyone with more emphasis on the Black community,” states Norton.
Thompson further explains, “It’s something that everyone should be aware of, and so, because of these stereotypes, it can sometimes hold us back from how many people we are able to reach, because people are afraid to really join us. But it’s hard for us to knock down those stereotypes constantly if that’s what’s being pushed.” She goes on to say that if something happens in one chapter (sorority) people might condone the whole organization and not just that one specifically. “If one chapter or one situation was to [have something] happen, people will take that one situation and have that foreshadow the organization as a whole.”
These ladies are making a positive impact in the community through hosting informative programs about financial wealth, women’s health and supporting HBCUs, amongst many others. If you are interested in learning more about the Nu Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, please visit http://aka1908.com/about/mission.
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