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 women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s Sigma Psi Chapter at Davidson College and did an interview with Bri’ana Odom the 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. 21-year-old Bri’ana Odom 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 Sociology major Hispanic Studies minor and talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership position on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
I have had the honor of being the 10th President of the Simply Phenomenal Sigma Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and it is an accomplishment that I will always and forever hold near and dear to my heart. To me, being a chapter President means learning from your sisters as much as they are able to learn from you; you must have a great understanding of your chapter’s history to be able to improve upon its functioning and also an ability to know when it is time to ask for help! While leadership is great, service is greater. It is important for chapter Presidents to work towards learning how to best be of service in the name of their organization.
What made you decide to attend Davidson College for undergrad?
I wanted to attend Davidson College because of the small class sizes, the liberal arts curriculum, and the opportunity to be able to get to know my Professors more than I would had I attended a larger college. Although I am from Charleston, South Carolina I attended college preparatory boarding school, Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, for my four years of high school. Deerfield was much like Davidson in a lot of ways, and so I instantly felt at home when I visited campus the summer before my senior year of high school. I applied Early Decision and the rest is history. (It doesn’t hurt that the weather is nicer in the South and that I am much closer to home).
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Recently we have started an initiative entitled “Every Month is Black History Month” to highlight accomplishments of prominent Black creatives who influenced the Harlem Renaissance and Black culture generally. Every month we post informational fliers about these phenomenal Black powerhouses all around our campus and encourage people to stop and learn about these individuals whom history has tried to erase time and time again. We feel this is an important initiative, especially on our PWI’s campus, for purposes of visibility. We want to ensure that Black people are not only celebrated one month out of the year and this is one of the ways we are working to do that.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
I wanted to become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. because of the rich and fulfilling history of the organization and how I had seen it influence the lives of women that I care about. When asked this question, my go-to answer always has some version of this within it: “It is an honor to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants”. We say this often in Sigma Psi because it is a great honor and one we do not take lightly. I am motivated every day to know that I am able to do the work of my Founders 110+ years after they brought their vision into fruition. Alpha Kappa Alpha’ purpose, my purpose, drives me to be a better person every day.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Sigma Psi has the distinct pleasure of being the first chapter of a sorority to ever be invited to charter on the campus of Davidson College. We recently celebrated our 10th year anniversary! I feel that our chapter being so young is something that sets us apart from many. We are actively writing and recording the early history of our chapter for those Sorors who are to come after us in a way that many undergrads are not able to do. Members of Sigma Psi have the distinct pleasure to interact with our charter members frequently and easily.
Additionally, while our chapter may be younger than many, we have a multitude of accomplishments to boast since our chartering; last Spring we were even highlighted on Watch The Yard for bringing home a total of 21 awards at the 65th Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of our Sorority. Current members and past members alike are diverse, hard-working, and purpose-minded women. At Davidson we are athletes and active members of a host of different organizations—our alumnae are lawyers, doctors, educators, and so many other professions that make an impact not only within organizations but amongst vast communities.
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?
I think that social media is one of the best ways to let not only our individual campuses but the world know about the work that we do as members of our international organizations. Highlighting accomplishments of members, community service endeavors, and bonding opportunities on social media informs the public of how the purposes/missions of our organizations are not just words but tangible and consistent actions that we take seriously. There should never be more party fliers on a chapter’s Instagram page than there are community service announcements, in my opinion. To represent ourselves the best we can online we must highlight those acts that we are most proud of. Those acts that our Founders would be most proud of.
What does leadership mean to you?
I feel that leadership is about prioritizing, planning, and encouraging. No great leader succeeds on their own, and that is why I think it is so important as a leader to uplift those around you in all that you seek to do. As President of Sigma Psi, I always sought to highlight and celebrate the abilities of Sorors to let them know that they were appreciated and valued. Leadership means recognizing your own strengths as much as you recognize the strengths of those around you.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom because it is a great platform for all D9 organizations to be celebrated and highlighted in the same place. Speaking from the perspective of a soon-to-be-PWI-grad, there have been many times where I have been disappointed by the lack of acknowledgement/support from the greater Davidson College community in regards to Black Sorority/Fraternity life on campus. Watch the Yard serves as a constant reminder of the legitimacy of the work that members of the D9 do in their respective organizations but also together. It’s a beautiful sight: to log onto my Instagram and see all of the positive stories pertaining to our organizations.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is composed of love, empathy, patience, and enthusiasm. As a sister it is my job to ensure that my sisters are on track to being the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be and, in turn, I should trust that they are doing their best to do the same for me. Sisterhood is special in that it knows no age limit nor does it know the bounds of time or distance; wherever I am, I know that there is a sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha willing and ready to help me make a new place my home. That’s what makes sisterhood special.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Immediately after graduation I have set my sights on the Fulbright Fellowship to be an English Teacher’s Assistant at a school in Spain. If I am not afforded that opportunity, my hope is to teach English at a college preparatory boarding school in New England while pursuing my Master’s of Education. Ultimately, I would like to become an education administrator at either the high school or the college/university level—to be able to help students to recognize their full potential, take advantage of all opportunities, and develop as strong leaders during their time as students.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Bri’ana Odom for her work as the president of Sigma Psi Chapter which has a legacy that began in 2008.