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Leadership Highlight: Essence Lawson the Basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha at Virginia Union University

Photo Credit: Amaree Durfee, durfee_studios

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 Eta Chapter at Virginia Union University and did an interview with Essence Lawson 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. 21-year-old Lawson 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 History 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 a chapter President means to be a leader but also a servant. My role in the success of Alpha Eta and the legacy that we continue is a major one! A Chapter President is not only in charge and influences the productivity in the present but they can also impact the future in regards to the relationships that are built, the future members as well as the work that is done on the campus and in the community.

What made you decide to attend the Virginia Union University for undergrad?

I decided to attend Virginia Union University because of the great Alumni that has risen from my University and it’s humble beginning. My University is literally it’s name and began as a school that taught recently freed slaves that were imprisoned in Lumpkins Jail right in Richmond, Virginia. Another reason I decided to attend Virginia Union University is because the adversity it has endured but through it all it has and still continues to support and produce great students and professionals.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?

One initiative that Alpha Eta is heading up this year is focusing on Political Awareness and the importance of voting on all levels. On September 24th, for National Voter Registration Day we spent the day getting students registered on our campus as well as informing them on the importance of voting and knowing who is impacting the legislation that may affect your education, your family and even your friends.

Photo Credit: Amaree Durfee, durfee_studios

What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?

I wanted to be a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated because it represents strength, perseverance, leadership and so much more. To me Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated is the Essence of Sisterhood and Service and most definitely was the only way.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?

The Alpha Eta Chapter is so unique because no one person is alike. We all represent different walks of life and bring so many different great qualities to the chapter. The work that Alpha Eta members past and present have done for Richmond, Virginia and outside communities has also left a long lasting impact.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?

I believe that all undergraduate chapters across all organizations in 2019 should showcase more of the great work and service that they do. Fellowship and socializing was a reasoning for the creation of our organizations but was not the only one.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means to set yourself apart from the crowd but to also be able to connect to any and everyone. Leadership is also the ability to not only serve but to uplift and impact.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?

Watch the Yard is important to Black greekdom because of its ability to showcase what we stand for and the ability of it to reach crowds that we all may not particularly be able to reach or connect to.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me is selflessness! Being able to create a bonded family that you are not biologically connected to but are still able to rely on, connect with and impact is what Sisterhood is to me.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After Graduation I will be attending Law School pursuing a JD in Philadelphia, Pa to become a practicing Criminal Defense Attorney.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Essence Lawson for her work as the president of Alpha Eta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1928.

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