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 Alpha Phi Chapter at North Carolina A&T State University and did an interview with Kourtney Smith 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 Kourtney Smith has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.
We interviewed the Journalism and Mass Communication (Public Relations) major 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?
The Alpha Phi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was chartered on January 12, 1932 on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. Being chapter president of such a distinguished chapter means so much to me. I have been able to lead my chapter in amazing initiatives on campus and in the Greensboro area.
In addition, I have been able to continue the amazing work that alumnae of my chapter started while continuing to advance our reach and influence on campus and the community. It is an absolute privilege to be able to work with my graduate chapter, other undergraduate chapters in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and chapters outside of my region to further the mission of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Lastly, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to visionary leadership that my founders and charter members set forth many years ago and continue their legacy while building my own. Being chapter president of Alpha Phi is a rewarding experience that I will always be grateful for.
What made you decide to attend North Carolina A&T State University for undergrad?
My mom attended North Carolina A&T. I actually had dreams of going to Winthrop University in which I got accepted. My mom told me that I couldn’t apply to just one school. Funny enough, she had talked to me about her GHOE (Greatest Homecoming on Earth) experience and I applied. I got accepted into A&T and we went for Open House. I was trying my best not to like A&T, but from the moment I stepped on campus, I fell in love.
The family-like atmosphere, black excellence, and having my specific concentration for my major all played a part in me choosing A&T. I quickly realized that the people in my family that attended college, my mom and cousin, attended HBCUs and I wanted to continue the HBCU legacy in my family. North Carolina A&T State University has been a dream come true and I am so glad I chose my illustrious university.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Our chapter has worked tirelessly his year to tackle each of the initiatives our administration has put forward. We are placing an emphasis on assisting students during the college admissions process, ensuring the perpetuity of our HBCUs, promoting various art forms from visual to auditory, spearheading awareness and prevention of diseases predominantly impacting women, issues on a global scale, and building the economic power of the African American community. This upcoming semester, we will be hosting a Human Rights Week with the help of other D9 organizations on our campus that will highlight human rights violations around the world and to promote freedom of expression, understanding, and unity throughout our educational community. To better support our arts and women’s healthcare initiatives, we will be hosting both a Zumba and self-defense course to promote a physically active lifestyle and combat dangers women face daily especially when traveling alone. Last but not least, we will continue our Precious Pearls mentoring program that focuses on giving our young women a positive role model to encourage them to remain on a straight and narrow path to success.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
Growing up, I did not know much about Greek Life. My peer mentor during my freshman year was an AKA. She was a senior with a 4.0 GPA, had great leadership and professional experience, and she really mentored me during my first year. I really looked up to her and I aspired to be just like her. When I went back to visit my favorite high school teachers and guidance counselors during winter break of my freshman year, I realized that they were AKAs. I participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in high school and two of my mentors from that program were members of AKA. All of the women that I looked up to were in this organization. These women were extremely established, successful, and well respected. Their professionalism and leadership exuded in everything that they were involved in, and I aspired to be just like that when I was older. I did my own research on Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission, purpose, and initiatives and all of those things I believed in and cared about. I knew that being a part of Alpha Kappa Alpha would allow me to be a part of something bigger than myself while still being able to change the world around me. I am forever grateful for the decision that I made to be a member of my sweet sisterhood.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Alpha Phi is a unique chapter in many ways. To start, Alpha Phi produces leaders and shakers in everything. Alpha Phi alumnae and current members have reigned in the top leadership positions on campus and beyond to continue to be leaders and shakers in every career field. Alpha Phi provides the leadership training that is universally useful for being a leader in the Sorority, on campus, in the community, and in Corporate America. The love and support that Alpha Phi alumnae give is something that I will always be grateful for. Alumnae are always willing to give back to the chapter. Our alumnae Sorors are always willing to help us in regards to careers, graduate school, scholarships, internships, and in our personal lives. The Alpha Phi bond is a bond like no other. I will forever hold Alpha Phi near and dear to my heart.
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 undergraduate chapters across all organizations need to be sure that their chapter pages promote all of the positive things they are doing on campus and in the community. It is important for undergraduate chapters to showcase their community service, programs, and other chapter initiatives on online mediums for their campuses, communities, and other Greeks to see. In addition to the chapter work, I think it is important for undergraduate chapters to share about their members and their accomplishments, as well. A lot of the members in undergraduate chapters are involved in a lot of great things outside of their organization. Showcasing all of the positive work our members do, as well, is definitely important. We are the leaders on campus in regards to service and scholarship, and we have the responsibility to show our impact.
What does leadership mean to you?
Since I’ve stepped on campus at North Carolina A&T, I have held a leadership position in some capacity. Leadership is a sacrifice. As a leader, I am consistently working to further the mission of my organization. When you are a leader, you sacrifice time, energy, resources, and even personal desires, if necessary, to get things done. Leadership means to keep pushing no matter how hard the task is or when times get tough for the greater good. Leadership is a selfless act of service. As chapter president, I serve my campus, community, chapter members, region, and Sorority as a whole. With this role, I have a responsibility to ensure that all of those I serve are impacted in positive ways. The work that is done in leadership is not for recognition, praise, or awards. The mission that is being executed is way too important to just be in leadership to receive a pat on the back. Being in leadership is one of the most privileged positions to be in. Not everyone has the chance to be able to in leadership positions, so I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
In a time where Black Greek life can be seen in a negative light, Watch The Yard gives a fresh perspective and the behind-the-scenes work of D9 organizations and chapters. Watch the Yard allows people that are not in our community to see the positive things that organizations and chapters are doing which changes people’s perception of Black Greek life. There are a lot of organizations, undergraduate and graduate chapters, and members individually that do a lot of great work for the communities they serve, but no one knows about it. This platform puts a spotlight on all of the amazing work that we do as a community.
Overall, Watch The Yard is a safe haven of Greek unity, support and love that continuously connects the members of D9 organizations together in order to change the world one step at a time.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is showing consistent support, love, and guidance from one sister to another. Sisterhood is being able to trust and confide in your sister. Sisterhood is being a cheerleader for your sister in whatever they are doing. Sisterhood is being able to laugh and cry together, as well. Sisterhood is the selfless act of being a friend to your sister in her highest and lowest moments. Since being a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha, I have experienced nothing but genuine sisterhood from my sisters, prophytes, Sorors in other chapters, and Sorors I’ve had minimum interaction with. From my internship experiences in different states, traveling, etc., I know first hand that wherever I go there will be a Soror close and I don’t have to worry about anything. That is sisterhood.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Since sophomore year, I have developed a passion for diversity and inclusion, specifically in the technology industry. After graduation in May 2019, I will be working for Google in Mountain View, CA. I aspire to become the Head of Diversity and Inclusion for a technology company one day.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Kourtney Smith for her work as the president of Alpha Phi Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1932.