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 Mu Kappa Chapter at the University of California, Davis and did an interview with Nahima Shaffer 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 Nahima Shaffer 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 Political Science – Public Service and African and African-American Studies 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?
As we just celebrated our 40th Chapterversary, being president of the Mu Kappa chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated has taken on an even deeper meaning for me. Not only am I to be a leader for our chapter currently, but I also have the task of upholding the legacy set forth by the amazing women that came before me. From doctors to lawyers, creatives, business, and nonprofit owners, my chapter through its 40 years has stuck true to a tradition of achieving excellence. I am just grateful to be able to carry out the vision of the women who paved the way for our chapter to continue to be great.
What made you decide to attend the University of California, Davis for undergrad?
Although I am a California native, I grew up in France and Switzerland for the majority of my life. When applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to come back to the U.S and potentially California, but I wasn’t sure where. My dad encouraged me to add UC Davis to my UC application, and it ended up being the first school I got into. I always knew I had an interest in government/law and figured the proximity to the California State Capitol would provide a lot of opportunities to get involved politically. It was also the closest school to my family. Although it’s located in small cow town, UC Davis has taught me so much over the past three years and has enabled me to grow as a person all while having met some of my closest friends.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Our chapter is focused on implementing our new international program targets as well as empowering the diaspora here at UC Davis. Because we are a PWI with only 4% Black students, it is important to us that we create spaces where Black students feel welcomed. We seek to do this not only by collaborating with other Black Student Organizations in and outside of our NPHC but also by emphasizing the importance of mental health through a majority of our events. As our community grows and evolves each year, we only hope to continue to aid in strengthening its bonds.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
Coming from a mixed race background and being a first-generation college student on my Ethiopian side, none of my family is a part of any type of Greek organization. On top of that, I grew up in Europe where Greek life is basically nonexistent. However, my senior year of High School I began to learn and research more about Black Greek Letter Organizations. I found that my personal values aligned most with those of Alpha Kappa Alpha and the history of the organization very much inspired me. But, when I arrived on campus, it was truly the women of my chapter that motivated me. They were not only academic achievers, leaders in the community but also incredibly hard working and kind. I am eternally grateful that they saw in me even an ounce of what I saw in them.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Every chapter has its strengths, but I genuinely believe it is our hard work that makes my chapter unique. Throughout its 40 years, Mu Kappa has always held itself to a standard of excellence, but it has achieved this because each and every one of us is committed to that meeting that standard. No matter what field we pursue, whether that be education, social work, health, politics, or the arts, we all understand the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve our goals. It is something we’ve all learned through our commitment to our chapter and that we carry with us throughout our lives. Because of this, we are unstoppable women and so is our bond.
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 believe in our digital world that social media can be a great tool to highlight the positive achievements of our organizations and chapters, offering a more holistic view of Greek life. Yes, we can share our stroll and party videos, but our social medias give us a platform to broadcast our continued service. I see social media as an extension of how we ought to represent ourselves in public with the bonus of being able to promote and document our events and achievements for all to see.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me means not only being an example for those under you but also being available to listen. Leadership and power to me should not be synonymous; rather I associate leadership with responsibility. It is my duty to lead, not to control, and I can only lead so long as everyone feels valued and listened to. Even if we may differing opinions, as a leader, I try to consider everyone’s point of view and input before making decisions.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom because it is a source of unity. Although we all may chronicle our individual organizations’ achievements, Watch The Yard is able to bring those together on one platform for all to see. Watch The Yard successfully helps combat negative stereotypes associated with Black Greek life by displaying positive images and chronicling stories that highlight our culture and service. In our digital world, no other source is documenting Black Greek Life quite like Watch The Yard. I think in 10-20 years we will all be grateful to have such an excellent and easily accessible record of our history.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood to me means always being there and looking out for one another. I know I can always call on my sorors in a time of need whether that be for professional guidance, advice, or a place to stay while traveling. No matter our differences, we will always stick together and make the time to help each other. Our love for Alpha Kappa Alpha bonds us, but it’s in practice that we keep that bond strong. We continuously uplift and encourage each other on top of being just there, which is beautiful to me.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to take some time off of school to work and focus on my law school applications. Ideally, I am hoping to apply to joint degree programs, combining law with public policy or history. I also plan to continue my service in Alpha Kappa Alpha, by becoming involved at the graduate level and assisting my chapter in any way that I can.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Nahima Shaffer for her work as the president of Mu Kappa Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1978.