Leadership Highlight: Damon Westray the President of Alpha Phi Alpha at North Carolina Central 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 brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Gamma Beta Chapter at North Carolina Central University and did an interview with Damon Westray the president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Westray 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 criminal justice major and talked about his 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?
What it means to be a chapter president to me is to be content with the fact that you have to make sacrifices. It means that you take the lead in all aspects, it means you must be a model figure for the rest of your chapter, it means that sometimes you will lose sleep, it means sometimes you will have to do more, but in the long run you are okay with it because you know that you are providing the necessary tools for those that come after you so that they are able to do the same thing for another group once you leave the chapter.
What made you decide to attend the North Carolina Central University for undergrad?
I attended North Carolina Central University because my older brother attended the school. I knew I wanted to go out of state and I knew that I wanted to attend an HBCU. NC Central also has one of the best Criminal Justice program so it seemed like a no brainer.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Specific initiatives the chapter has planned this academic year focuses not only on our 4 national programs, but also events that we feel as though will benefit our campus and the surrounding community. To name a few we have Phirst Sunday, which is an event placed on the first Sunday of every month on campus to give students an opportunity to join a worship campus placed on campus. At the end of every month we conduct a meals on wheels where we prepare/provide meals for the homeless population located in the Durham community. We also have our Drip the Poll initiative which is a voters awareness event to inform not only students but people within the community and how important their vote means to all elections, informing them on new voting policies, candidates running, and why a voteless people is a hopeless people. Another initiative would be our Condom Sense event, which is where we conduct safe sex seminars at neighboring high schools and on campus. Every November we also conduct Alphagiving, for the homeless community. We invite them to our campus to have a home cooked Thanksgiving meal and fellowship. One of my favorite initiatives however, would be Secret Servants which is a week of performing random acts of kindness for students, faculty, and members of the community.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
When I came on NCCU’s campus in the fall of 2016, I had no idea what greek life was. Where I am from, we did not have high school greek letters so I was oblivious to all organizations and what they stood for. During my freshman year, I ran for freshman class president and there was one specific group that was very adamant about assisting me and my campaign. They taught me everything about election season, what to do and what not to do, and how to creating an effective speeches. When I won, their support did not stop, they helped me throughout the year in all aspects to ensure maneuvered through my senior year successfully. They kept me on track, I loved the respect they had on campus their programming was unique and effective and this group was Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, inc. I was interested in pledging the Gamma Beta chapter because of all they did for me when I got to this campus without me even asking, their reasoning was because they wanted me to pay it forward and that is why I pledged and that is why I love my chapter.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
What I find unique about my chapter is this mentality that seems to carry along with each member and that is “by any means necessary”, no matter how things get done, we get it done. When we say we are going to do something, it may not go as planned but we get it done at the end of the day!
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?
Since we are in a digital world, I think it is important that we all have a brand that represents our respected chapters in the best light. I also feel it is necessary that we also take into consideration not everyone know what greek life is and that we are still the same people before and after the letters we have to ensure we are approachable online too and not involving ourselves with any bashing of any greek organizations.
What does leadership mean to you?
leadership to me means being impeccable with your word. Being a leader also means to be an example, it also means learning to follow at times, and having a certain standard about yourself that sets the tone for others to follow.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom because it shows that greek life is still relevant and keeps everyone up to date with the amazing things that Black Greek Letters are doing and how they are constantly becoming change agents at their respected institutions and communities.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood is a strong bond of camaraderie and friendship, unconditional loyalty and trust and upholding a commitment of integrity and respect for one another, thus setting the foundation of a fraternity.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation I plan on pursuing a career in the federal government working in the field of intelligence. Once I am well established, I will like to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where I will pursue an MS master degree in Cyber Security.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Westray for his work as the president of Gamma Beta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1941.