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 Eta Mu Chapter at the University of Houston and did an interview with Marlon Black 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 Marlon Black 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 Organizational Leadership & Supervision major who also is obtaining a minor in Business Administration with a focus in Construction Management, 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 chapter president to me is a job that I carry close to my heart. I know that each decision I make is one that effects not only myself but my chapter, the legacy my chapter has created, and the reputation I leave on my campus. It is important to coincide my ideas with those of my chapter brothers. Though I may believe I have the best idea others thoughts and feelings come into play as well. My time as president I have learned that working with others no matter my position of power still makes me their peer and not their superior. What it means to be as a leader especially the president of an organization that I love with all my heart is to be selfless and to want nothing but success for my chapter.
What made you decide to attend the University of Houston for undergrad?
Before I attended the University of Houston, I attended a small school in Massachusetts for athletics. Battling injury after injury athletics became more of a chore than fun. No longer participating in athletics, I wanted to become more involved with my campus and community. I was disappointed with the amount of diversity and lack of student involvement in the community. It was after my first two years I decided to transfer schools. I came to a realization I needed to find a bigger purpose for myself while obtaining my degree. I chose Houston because of their exceptional business school and ranking of one of the most diverse universities in the country. I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. Contributing to society and the community around me.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
My chapter is currently focused on the Junior achievement program. Junior achievement is a entrepreneurship program that teaches kids in the elementary school level what it means to be your own boss, the risk and advantages of owning your own business, and simply exposes them to business at an early age.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
The reason I pledged The Eta Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is an answer that many people may find odd, but my journey to become an Alpha was purely by coincident. Enrolling into the University of Houston I had no knowledge of greek lettered organizations. I knew nobody on campus and I was eager to meet people and find new friends. I attended the first football game at UH which was, UH Vs. Oklahoma. Some one completely by chance had sat next to me and struck up a conversation about greek life, I joke about it to this day and say it was fate. He had explained to me the general impression of each black fraternity. I thought nothing of it. I continued to go about my life on campus. After that day I could not stop seeing Alphas doing something on campus. I ended up speaking to some Alphas on campus and going to events, without even realizing it I was now trying to become an Alpha. Long story short Alpha chose me and I chose Alpha. Becoming an Alpha was the best decision I’ve ever made and I know my blessing because of it will be plentiful.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
My chapter is unique because we are trendsetters. The Eta Mu Chapter is a chapter that’s leads and only follows its own rules. We changed the style of strolling in Texas, we have added to Texas lingo “WakeItUp” and “LGi” for example, and we are the premier Greek organization in the south. We are Alphas that wear red, we hop, and we don’t use whistles.
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?
In this digital era it is imperative to brand yourself on all social media. Use your Twitter and IG as an outlets for your chapter. Maximize in followers by posting videos, sending out tweets regularly, and publicizing all chapter events. It is also important to build your brand online responsibly. Your digital footprint never goes away. Post smart, safely, and appropriate.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me means to give direction selflessly. Making decisions with zero intentions of pure self gain is crucial to me. Leading with the implication of sacrifice is a major skill. Leading with true aspirations rally people behind you, rather than just giving orders. People that you lead want to see a leader that cares about what he or she is working towards. I believe that leading is to work a long side others as an educated peer than to appear as a boss.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
To me Watch The Yard is a great channel of greek unity. From my device I can see what all Greeks across the country are doing to cultivate their chapters and community. It is extremely satisfying to know black people doing such amazing things at such a young age.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood to me means an indefinite family. People that fall under the title of a brother or sister are people that are linked to you for life. This bond created by Black lettered Greek Organizations allows you to see different hardships, mentalities, and cultural backgrounds. Through these bonds you are now given an extended family that you can connect to through multiple levels. You are now never truly alone. If you’re in trouble, need a place to sleep, or a plate to eat you know you have some one to call.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Upon graduation I will be working full time supervising for an Iron workers union in Manhattan. After working for some time I will then pursue my MBA and move on to work in project management.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Marlon Black for his work as the president of Eta Mu Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1971.
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