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 Pi Psi Chapter at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and did an interview with Darian Johnson 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. 22-year-old Darian Johnson 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 Education major and talked about his 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?
Being the President of the Pi Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was an honor. Once I crossed into Alpha I was immediately put into leadership position. It was a very trial and error time being that I was not familiar with the roles of Alpha, but I used prior knowledge on the capabilities of a leader and applied them towards Alpha. With the addition of past presidents and my advisors I made a smooth transition into my role as president. I also was able to pick up the legacy of brothers before me and continue to hold the light of Alpha high.
What made you decide to attend the University of Arkansas at Monticello for undergrad?
Actually the University of Arkansas at Monticello was my second choice. I originally started my journey of undergrad at The University of Central Arkansas. Although the campus was great and it came with a lot of great perks, choices and decisions had to be made, therefore I transitioned to UAM. As I look back I don’t regret my decision at all. This University has allotted me many opportunities for me from excelling in the classroom to becoming a part of the greatest fraternity known to man. I am forever grateful for The University of Arkansas at Monticello.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Including the national programs of the fraternity, The Pi Psi chapter is focusing on academic excellence with the university. We host study sessions every Wednesday at our campus library. We find that by being one of the most well-known organizations on campus, we must strive for what we all came here for and that is a better education. Majority of our brothers in the chapter are in a wide range of academic routes to where we are able to help students in multiple different areas. The goal is to increase the retention rate and lower the drop out/transfer rate.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
Coming from a small town called Crossett, Arkansas I was not exposed to any type of Greek Life. So when I made it to middle school, I became a part of a college readiness organization. Every summer they would hold weekly college camps, where you could actually, be a college student for a week. So one of the camp leaders was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. He spoke very well and was very helpful. Me being an inquisitive middle school student, I posed the question of “What are those letter?”. So it was explained to me what they stood for and I immediately said “I want to be one of those!” From then on, I knew I wanted to become a member of the organization. Fast forward to college life, was when I really began to dig deep into the Fraternity. The mission statement stood out to me the most “Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. develops leaders promote brotherhood and academic excellence while providing service and advocacy for our community.” This statement sold me into becoming a member of the fraternity, because I was striving for academic excellence, I had a hand in the community, and I advocated for my fellow peers. The only thing missing was the brotherhood. When I say there is no brotherhood like the brotherhood of Alpha.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
We are absolutely different from others. Being one of the smallest chapters in Arkansas our bond is really tight and no one can come between it AT ALL. Each line within the Pi Psi chapter, was different, but we have the same outcome and we all share the same chapter. We have a wide range of diversity within our chapter from the NFL, IT Specialist, Educators, and Administrators. The legacy of the Pi Psi chapter, has been passed down from generation to generation for numerous years.
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?
Being that my university is a PWI institution, we are not capable to obtain the Divine 9, let alone tell people who we are. So with the organizations we do have it is quite difficult to reveal your organization and be noticed. So in order for chapters to represent themselves not only digital, but you have to go old-fashion as well, paper flyers will get the job done. Another big idea is to NETWORK. There are so many outlets to network with other organizations or even different chapters with a simple click and or swipe. Promote all social media outlets that way various people can reach out to you and that way you can reach out to them. You have to sell yourself in a positive light. Post everything about your chapter. A brother got a job promotion, post that or your sister got accepted into graduate school post that as well. It’s all about exposure and reaching those various outlets.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership taking ownership and leading in the right direction. In oder to lead you must have followed. In order to become that well known and good leader, you have to be tenacious. I have gained many experience that have molded me into becoming the leader I am today. I am in hopes of sharing my leadership with the younger generation.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood means meeting someone for the first time and remaining intact till the day you die. My brothers are always available at any time and vice versa. I know are backgrounds are different, but we look past and share the same passion and love for our dear Fraternity. People are constantly reaching out asking, am I in need of anything and that makes it even better, when you think you are not thought about you are thought about. We are always looking out whether we are here on campus or out traveling, no one is left behind. Our bond is like no other and I would not trade it for nothing in the world.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I will begin my master’s program in the summer, as well in hopes of landing a teacher career here in the southeast Arkansas area. Also continue to support the Pi Psi chapter in their future endeavors. After completion of Masters, I would most definitely like to complete my Doctorate in Educational Leadership, to one day become a superintendent of a school district.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Darian Johnson for his work as the president of Pi Psi Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1987.