In an effort to highlight the young leaders who are leading undergraduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s Alpha Psi Chapter at Tennessee State University and did an interview with Braxton Simpson the Basileus/president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black sorority is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 20-year-old Simpson has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around her.
We interviewed the Agricultural Sciences and Political Science major and talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
To be apart of the Alpha Psi legacy of Presidents is the most humbling experience I have ever had the honor of holding. I stand on the backs of phenomenal women like Mildred Hale Freeman, Bernice Allen, and Zenobia Baker—women who saw it fit to establish the Alpha Psi chapter on Tennessee State University’s campus! As a result of their legacy, I am extremely grateful and honored to step into leadership nearly 87 years later, and leave my impact as chapter president!
What made you decide to attend the Tennessee State University for undergrad?
I decided to attend Tennessee State University because of its award-winning College of Agriculture and it’s many leadership opportunities! I am an Agricultural Sciences Major with a concentration in Agribusiness, and it was important to me that I was able to attend an HBCU! Tennessee State University was the ultimate win, as it fed my passion for student leadership and community, as well as my passion for agriculture.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
The Ladies of Alpha Psi have several initiatives we have implemented, and are excited to see carried out this academic school year!
“HBCU 4 Life: A Call To Action” is one of our target programs in which we serve our TSU Community by hosting events designed to empower and influence HBCU Students! We have also established partnerships with several high schools in which we carry out our International Program â€œ#CAPâ€–which stands for the â€œCollege Admissions Process. â€œ During our #CAP sessions, we teach students about the importance of college, guide them through college-readiness tactics, teach them professional skills, and assist them in submitting college applications successfully.
“Women’s Healthcare and Wellness” is another one of our target programs that we utilize to raise community awareness around critical health issues impacting African-American women. Annually we collaborate with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Rho Psi Chapter to host a “Breast Friends Forever Walk!” This October will mark 7 years of this continued tradition, and we are excited to raise community awareness around Breast Cancer! Under this target program, we host an event in collaboration with The Positivity Board called “Mugs N’ Hugs!” We invite our campus community to decorate mugs for caregivers. The Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha place an emphasis on taking care of those who take care of others–“Care for the Caregivers.” We take the decorated mugs, fill them with gifts, and provide them to caregivers in the Nashville area.
Lastly, Heart Health is a “Serious Matter!” Annually we collaborate with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Alpha Chapter to host a basketball game that raises awareness surrounding heart health through fitness activities.
“Building Your Economic Legacy” is one of our favorite targets. Annually the Ladies of Alpha Psi collaborate with Regions Bank to promote Financial Literacy at TSU.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
As a little girl, all I knew was pink and green, “Skee-Wee”, and Alpha Kappa Alpha! My mother was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Mu Chapter at Alabama A&M in the Spring of 1992. Throughout her 27 years of service to Alpha Kappa Alpha, she instilled many of the values and morals she learned by way of sisterhood and service, into me as I grew up! My mother, Ronnetta Simpson, showed me the light and taught me the importance of leading through service, she introduced me to Alpha Kappa Alpha and I am forever grateful!
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Awesomely Sophisticated Alpha Psi Chapter is like no other! Our International President and current President of Tennessee State University, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover was initiated into the Alpha Psi Chapter!
We also coined the PINK PAΨGES , an annual book published by the Ladies of Alpha Psi, designed to provide freshmen with all of the tools they need to be successful during their time at Tennessee State University and in the city of Nashville.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2018?
Social Media is huge in 2019! Social Media is how we communicate, how we connect with the world, how we showcase ourselves and our brands! It is vital that undergraduate chapters everywhere utilize social media to their advantage! The question is: How do we showcase the impact our chapters are making, to sustain the legacy of our organizations? It’s simple–Social Media! We cannot limit our impact to only stepping and strolling–our organizations were founded on sisterhood/brotherhood and service. We must utilize our social media platforms to creatively showcase the service initiatives we carry out, the leadership opportunities we partake in, and the academic accomplishments and goals we reach! If we can highlight the substance of our organizations via social media, we can provide a holistic view of what our organizations truly stand for.
What does leadership mean to you?
I firmly believe, “If your actions inspire people to dream more, learn more, do more and become more– you are a leader” – Quincy Adams. Leadership is not about a title or the glitz and glam–Leadership is about impact. If I can impact lives, influence change, provoke thought, and develop my people all while progressing the chapter forward—-I have done my job.
To witness the personal growth within my sisters that transcends into a collective gain within the chapter. To witness the lives we are able to change as a result of our personal and collective growth is LEADERSHIP. Leadership is choosing to challenge the norm every day by being bold enough to inquire and aspire!
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black Greekdom because it serves as a platform to showcase the greatness of the Divine Nine Greek Organizations. As I previously mentioned, it is vital that undergraduate chapters utilize social media to their advantage, and not limit their impact. Watch The Yard got it right! Watch the Yard highlights the stepping and strolling, the historical context of greek organizations, the service initiatives, and the impact of bonds of sisterhood/brotherhood. All undergraduate chapters can look to “Watch The Yard” as a model for effective and engaging social media usage.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Unity is Strength and Strength is Beauty! Sisters fuss and fight, agree to disagree and may shed a tear from time to time. However, the ultimate measure of sisterhood is the ability to remain unified and stand strong in the midst of adversity and uncertainty. The ability to stand strong and firm is truly beautiful! No matter what, sisters have your back and are there to hold you up and keep you strong when the pressures of the world are working to make you fall. Unity is Strength and Strength is Beauty.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
As a double major in Agricultural Sciences and Political Science, I plan to obtain my MBA/JD combination post-graduation. I love agriculture and am intrigued by the idea of influencing policy! More than anything I want to introduce black and brown children from urban areas to agriculture! I want them to know about where their food comes and what healthy food options look like, so that they may work toward ensuring their communities are filled with those options.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Braxton Simpson for her work as the president of Alpha Psi Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1932.