Leadership Highlight: Savannah El the Basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha at Towson University
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 Lambda Beta Chapter at Towson University and did an interview with Savannah El 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 Savannah El 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 Family Studies & Human Service 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?
Being the President of the Lovely Lambda Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., is one of the most honorable leadership positions I have held. This is a huge responsibility that I never imagined I would be doing. I’m so blessed that my chapter entrusted me to lead in maintaining the excellence and legacy of the chapter. Being president means that I am the face of the chapter and anything that occurs is a representation of me. As President, I am very protective of my chapter, it is up to me to ensure its strength and status is maintained. It is up to me to go above and beyond the standards and expectations set forth to continue to work done by my chapter.
What made you decide to attend the Towson University for undergrad?
Originally, I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. I love my city and where I’m from but I longed for a change. I wanted to go completely out of my comfort zone and go to a new place. During my college application process, I applied to many different schools in various states. My mother was actually the one who introduced me to Towson. The college visit to Towson wasn’t planned but when I stepped foot on the campus I imagined myself attending the university for the next four years. Towson was very diverse (the diversity has continued to increase since 2016) and it had a great track record for rigorous coursework so everything felt right to me. Now, I can honestly say that I am happy with my decision back then because I love Towson.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Along with adhering to the national programs and targets, the Lambda Beta chapter plans to focus on connecting and doing work with new community partners. We want to extend our services to many of the “forgotten” causes and focus on those that need help but do not get much recognition. Because we promote “Service to all mankind” that is exactly what we intend on doing. We want to connect with other organizations to do work for others to network, build bonds and serve others!
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the best sorority. The fact that it is the first sorority for black women was something that always amazed me. My founders beat all the odds and established something for women like me during a time that continuously tried to bring black people down. Women of this sorority were always so different from the rest. Their confidence and knowledge was unmatched so I aspired to be like that. As I sought deeper into Alpha Kappa Alpha and its purpose embodied the epitome of sisterhood, community service, and academics. The targets at the time line up perfectly with my values and morals as a person. I wanted to be able to be a part of something more than myself and be able to represent such a prestigious organization.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Lovely Lambda Beta Chapter has a great reputation. We have a history of being hard workers and having the highest academics on campus within the NPHC. The chapter is very well known in the DMV area and has a very strong presence on campus. Being at a PWI, it is important to us to be very active and involved in campus life. What makes Lambda Beta unique is that we do work without wanting validation and/or attention. We do things because we want it to benefit others. My chapter is an award-winning chapter that has impacted so many in more ways than one. We are unique because we have always stayed true to ourselves and never strayed away from that. The chapter has been around for 42 years and has a lasting impact within Baltimore and neighboring 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 2019?
Technology is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it can be used in the forms of education, communication, entertainment, etc. However, it’s a curse as well because it tends to take over people’s lives. Living in a digital world, I believe undergraduate chapters across all organizations should use that to our advantage to positively influence others. This is especially true through social media. It’s easier for messages to get out to others and it’s up to us to do that. As undergraduate organizations, we all represent something more than us. What we show on social media reflects our chapters. It’s hard to erase mistakes put out there so we all need to be wary of what we ourselves put out. We also need to promote more unity amongst each other. Yes, we all are in different organizations but our goals are similar and that is something that can be done together to help one another.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is not about the position, it’s about the destination you take others. As I said before, I want to maintain the legacy of my chapter so as a leader I must do so. A leader is the model and the one others want to follow. I must be an example for others so that my influence can be impactful. I feel as though leadership is also bringing out potential in others that they might not even see in themselves. As a leader, I should be thinking about the next one up and grooming them to be the best because leadership involves developing other leaders. So far, I’ve been able to learn and grow as a leader within my presidency and I feel that it’s only up from here. Leadership is not dictated; it is both delegated, and demonstrated. As the President, I cannot expect my officers to perform well without having laid-out to them my expectations for achievement. Individuals cannot be held responsible for expectations that have not been clearly articulated. The desire to do well is increased when an individual understands how his job impacts others.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard does an amazing job highlighting black excellence. I feel as though it truly uplifts black people that are doing great things within the Greek community. It showcases our culture as well as celebrates it. It’s important because it helps keep Black Greekdom alive and is very influential to so many. It definitely serves as a news outlet for various aspects ranging from hot topics, steps and strolls, to the work of various chapters and individuals year-round. I definitely appreciate it for that and never would have imagined that I would get featured so I am truly grateful.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
To me sisterhood means being self-less and putting your sister before yourself. Sisterhood is having a bond that can’t be broken no matter what and always being there for one another. If my sister is hurting, then I’m hurting and it’s my job to help her when in need. Sisterhood is also about uplifting each. Women, especially black women, are so powerful and we live in a male dominant society with things that we strive to overcome every day. Why try to beat someone down to elevate yourself when we can just elevate and benefit together? I’ve always stood by that and that is something I value as well as promote daily. Additionally, sisterhood is holding each other accountable.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I plan to attend graduate school either majoring in social work or family therapy. As While in graduate school, I want to work in the nonprofit sector specifically targeting families because that will allow me the most hands-on work. My end all be all is to become a marriage and family counsellor by becoming a licensed clinician so that I can own a private practice. I really want to help every individual that I come across and I believe that change begins within the family unit. Helping families allows me to have a generational impact. Families have the most influence on an individual, helping one family can allow me to have an influence on the next generations to come.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Savannah El for her work as the president of Lambda Beta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1977.