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Leadership Highlight: William Gardin the President of Alpha Phi Alpha in Gastonia, North Carolina

Credit: Vicki Gardin

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Eta Mu Lambda Chapter in Gastonia, North Carolina and did an interview with William Gardin the president of the chapter.

The position of president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Gardin, who is a Director of Rehab Services, has been president of his chapter for a year.

We interviewed Gardin, who is a Spring 2018 initiate of the fraternity and a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.

Read the full interview below.

What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?

The chapter president is the plumb line, he or she ensures that the chapter is structured and centered towards it’s strategic goals. In addition, the chapter president is oft times the supporting beam in which ongoing support is provided to its members.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?

Eta Mu Lambda continues to revolutionize its approach based upon the needs of its community and national organizational alignment. With Covid-19, our focus has been geared toward supporting our seniors and aiding the community in voter registration/mobilization. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on these two areas, but more specifically we want to engage our youth. We currently have an all-black cub scout pack called “Pack 1906.” It is our hope that we will be able to fully immerse our pack into activities that were halted due to covid-19. Moreover, it seems that many of the youth in our communities have been overlooked to a certain degree and are suffering. We are currently working on the restructuring of our mentor program which will include “Go to High School, Go to College,” and “Project Alpha.”

What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?

During my time at Winston-Salem State University, I naturally became close to several of the Alphas and felt that their mission was in alignment with my personal beliefs. My major in school was Occupational Therapy, this program required much travel out of state therefore not allowing me the time to commit to pledging undergrad. Becoming an “Alpha Man” became my goal, therefore my pursuit was unquenched. Born in Gastonia, partially raised in Gastonia, and with established roots in Gastonia it was only reasonable that I seek membership with Eta Mu Lambda, seated in Gastonia, N.C.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?

Eta Mu Lambda was chartered by 9 educators on Oct 1st, 1959. I am personally amazed that 9 black men in Gastonia during 1959 were educators. This amazement stands because during my time in the Gastonia school system I NEVER had a black teacher.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?

Maxmize the use of all platforms for improved communication and presence. It is vital for the “D9” to maintain its presence and demonstate its leadership even in a digital world.

How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?

Despite Covid-19, we have continued to demonstrate a brotherly bond that is unshakeable. Several brothers, including myself have recovered from Covid-19 and are doing well. The sense of brotherhood and support has surpassed my expectations. Eta Mu Lambda is ever evolving and developing ways to meet the needs of our community while adhering to covid-19 restrictions. For example, we completed a virtual back to school giveaway. Parents and students were able to request school supplies via online and have these supplies delivered to their homes. The key to us being able to navigate the pandemic has been our fluidity.

What does leadership mean to you?

Simply put, leadership is serving and supporting those who you are leading to meet the goals and vision as outlined by its’ members.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?

Watch the Yard provides a platform for others to see the unique culture that lies within in the D9 organizations; It has become our “Different World.” It exposes those who may not have been exposed to the possibilities of continued education partnered with community service. In addition, it provides positive highlights for our beloved HBCUs.

What does brotherhood mean to you?

Bro Freeman Montague Jr. states its best in his poem “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” Here are a few of the words he speaks: “This powerful sense of brotherhood makes everything seem fine……We are brother’s in a deeper sense….Never again will I be lonely for I have brothers everywhere…There is nothing in this whole wide world that we wouldn’t do for one another….He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?

We provide ongoing support/counsel to ensure Pi Nu is in alignment with the national organization’s goals and expectations. Our “providing” is holistic to the needs of the chapter.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend William Gardin for his work as the President of the Eta Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.

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