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 women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s Mu Rho Chapter at Vanderbilt University and did an interview with Bailey Lowe the president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black sorority is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Bailey Lowe has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around her.
We interviewed the Human and Organizational Development and German Language Studies major and talked about her 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?
Having the opportunity to lead the Mu Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is something I do not take lightly. This chapter has been continually setting and surpassing standards since December 10, 1975, and I feel honored to be able to carry that on that tradition. The president has the ability to both continue the legacy that has previously existed and create a new piece of history for the chapter, and I am so grateful that my sisters believed in me enough to trust me with that responsibility.
What made you decide to attend Vanderbilt University for undergrad?
At young age, I knew an education was one of the most important things I could have. I started researching schools in seventh grade and found that Vanderbilt had been deemed the “Harvard of the South”. I thought it was perfect because it meant I could get an Ivy League-caliber education closer to home (I’m from Chattanooga, TN). Vanderbilt has the #1 school for education in the nation and I knew that I wanted to study education policy. I loved the city of Nashville and its unique small big city feel, and being at an SEC school was a plus, too. I felt like I would have the perfect opportunity to invest in my future while getting the most out of my college experience.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
In keeping with the programmatic goals of the organization as a whole, Mu Rho is putting on events aimed at improving the lives of those in our community in every way. One thing we have been focused on is promoting physical and mental health within the Vanderbilt community, because it is something that people often struggle with in silence. To address that, we hosted a month-long health initiative with different events centered on healthy eating, being active, and knowing how to address your mental health. Additionally, we have planned to continue events aimed at encouraging our fellow college students to be involved and invested in the political process, supporting organizations that are helping those in need, and creating spaces where Black students feel they belong.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
Neither of my parents are Greek, so it wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind. One of my aunts and several of the women who were around me for most of my childhood were, however, Deltas. They were some of the kindest and most generous people I had ever met, and they cared deeply about making sure that I had all the tools I needed to succeed. One of the things I appreciated most about them was that they were never pushy about wanting me to join. Instead, they allowed their actions show me where I needed to be. Almost all of these women were educators and invested in serving the community, even further solidifying for me the connection between my passions and the principles of Delta. Since I’ve joined, it has become such an important part of my life and shaped me into a woman who, even a year ago, I would have never imagined I could be.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Mu Rho Chapter is one that is deeply rooted in relationships and passing on a legacy, and the women of Mu Rho are unlike any others. We always joke that it takes a special type of woman to be a woman of Mu Rho, but it is true. I have never met a group of women so committed to ensuring that we help each other succeed while simultaneously making a profound impact on our community. These women are so dedicated to their cause that they have not only built the chapter into one that continues to win awards year after year for its work, but they themselves have gone on to impact the fields of medicine, law, and education, becoming political leaders and members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Beyond that, there is a desire to remain connected to each other. I feel lucky to have active relationships with women who crossed 5, 10, even 14 years ago, and I really value those because not everyone has that.
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?
Social media and the breadth of the internet provide the perfect opportunity to broadcast positivity on a grand scale, and I believe chapters should do just that. We have the ability to share with the world the accomplishments of our members as well as the fantastic things we are doing to improve our campuses and communities. Social media can also be a way for us to show support for one another, bringing awareness to our own organizations and the entire Divine 9 as a whole.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership for me has always been rooted in your ability to serve those who trust you in that position. Leaders should be ready to help others get to where they need to go. In addition to being a chapter president, I am a resident advisor in a freshman dorm, and one thing I have learned from being in that position is that your presence as a leader is extremely important. Being physically present is important, but even more important is being emotionally and mentally present. When you are in a mental space to listen to and understand those you are working with, it is easier to build trust and create a common vision for achieving a goal, which I believe is the underlying aim of leadership.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard has created a community for Black Greeks where we can share in each other’s experiences and accomplishments. I think that is important especially with the culture shift that is beginning to happen surrounding Greek life. The positive and impactful stories of Black Greek life far outweigh those few unfortunate ones, and Watch The Yard does a great job of showcasing those. It is even more important that it is not exclusive to Black Greeks, because it allows us to share those things with everyone, not just those in our organizations.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is not the picture-perfect image we see in movies, and I want more people to understand that. It is sometimes messy and uncomfortable and causes you to sacrifice, even when you may not want to. Sisterhood is calling each other out when necessary, pushing each other to go farther than we think we can, and going out on a limb for each other. I think it is these moments of uncertainty that create a strongly bonded and supportive sisterhood, because as we know, growth and comfort cannot coexist. While this sisterhood is founded on sharing the same ideals, it is so much more than that, because if it weren’t, we would be any other service organization. Sisterhood is that constant love, support, and push for growth for one another, and it is a commitment to do those things for a lifetime.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation I will be moving to New Orleans to teach with Teach For America. I have always been passionate about fixing the deep-rooted educational inequity that exists in this country, and I believe this is a great place to start. Eventually, my hope is to move into administrative or policy work. I plan on joining an alumnae chapter and continuing the work of Delta because I strongly believe in the lifetime commitment I’ve made to the organization.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Bailey Lowe for her work as the president of Mu Rho Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1975.