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Leadership Highlight: Kalif Jeremiah The President of Alpha Phi Alpha at Duke University

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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 Kappa Omicron Chapter at Duke University and did an interview with Kalif Jeremiah 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 Kalif Jeremiah 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 Cultural Anthropology major, Education minor 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?
To be president of the Kappa Omicron Chapter is a privilege I do not take lightly. I consider myself personally responsible for not only the success and image of my chapter, but also for the well being of all of my brothers. To be president is to carry whatever weight necessary to get my chapter to our goals. It is to ensure that all brothers are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I always speak of my position with immense pride, as I know I’ve been entrusted to push forward a legacy that will long outlast my individual contribution.

What made you decide to attend Duke University for undergrad?
When I was considering where I wanted to go for college, I knew I wanted to get out of the Northeast. At that point, I was already tired of what seemed to be a routine of crazy weather and fast-paced living. I knew the South would be both warmer and slower; exactly what I was looking for. As I was applying to schools my senior year, my college counselor told me that they had nominated me for the Robertson Scholarship. After doing my research and learning about all of its benefits: a full-ride for all four years, the unique opportunity to study at our sister campus, The University of Carolina – Chapel Hill, seminars and entire summer programs dedicated to honing my leadership, as well as extensive alumni connections, my mind was made up. On top of all of that, it was in the south, where I knew the climate and pace of living would be more to my liking. I poured my everything into the application process and with the guidance and support of my college counselor, the head of Upper School, Mr. Cox, and my family and friends, I was blessed enough to be offered the scholarship. Accepting it was 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?
This year our chapter has pledged our commitment to increasing the awareness to the struggles and systemic issues that impact the community on our campus and beyond. Earlier this semester we partnered with Dr. Jonathan Mattingly, the Chair of the Duke Department of Mathematics, to host a conversation on the impact of Gerrymandering in North Carolina. Next semester, we plan to host our third annual panel for black and brown workers at Duke with the brothers of Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Incorporated. By partnering we are able to maximize the reach of the program and allow even more students to hear the perspectives and concerns of the faculty of color. These problems are not all unique to Duke, allowing for students to gain a better overall understanding of how power dynamics play out in the workplace at many top institutions.

What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
Before I came to Duke, I had no prior knowledge of, or experience with, NPHC Greek Fraternities. It was only after getting to know the brothers on the yard that I began to become interested in the organization itself. I began to do my own research on its ideals and its intended impact. As someone who has always grown up believing in the power of education and mentorship, as evidenced by my own life, the aims and national programs of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated felt like a natural fit.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The competitive nature and calculated foresight of our chapter allows us to remain unique. Constantly being surrounded by determined individuals with an eye on five or ten years into the future keeps you on your toes. It allows you to consider every move, and to become more efficient in the way you spend your time. By competing with one another, as friends and as brothers, we strengthen and motivate each other in every step of our individual pursuits. That is why we see the success that we have on our campus, within the international organization, as well as on the professional level.

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?
With social media as popular as it is now, a chapter’s ability to stand out lies in the strength of its brand. More than what you do or who you are, how are you known? There’s more than enough content to consume every day, make your chapter stand out. The ability to be recognized will allow you to remain a cut above everyone else.

What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership is about being the glue to an organization. Leadership is about constantly assessing and adapting, being whatever your organization needs in order to fulfill its goals and continue to thrive. This extends to how you approach every single person and situation. There are many leaders who can get people to get things done, but few who can get people to buy into why something needs to be done. It is in this ‘why’ that people feel a sense of belonging, a sense of personal investment in the success of the entire organization. When people are proud to represent your organization, they’ll work with passion and commitment.

 

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard allows all NPHC Greek organizations to come together and celebrate our collective goal – to uplift the black community. Often times, especially on college campuses, our competitiveness infringes on our sense of unity. On Watch The Yard, we can recognize and highlight the work that all organizations are doing in communities around the country and world.

What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood is the support that anchors us when times are hard, the love that holds us accountable, and the motivation to better each other until our weaknesses have become our strengths. Brotherhood is having the privilege of celebrating with the same people you worked with, the privilege of never being alone.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation I plan to work in the music industry. My current goal is to return to Sony Music, where I interned this past summer, as a full time employee. While working I will continue to pursue my goal of becoming a rapper. Later in my life, when I have more wisdom and experience to offer, I wish to become a middle school english teacher.

Photo Credit: @kayla_carlisle

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Kalif Jeremiah for his work as the president of Kappa Omicron Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1975.

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