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Leadership Highlight: Lauren Edmonds the President of Delta Sigma Theta at the University of Michigan

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 Nu Chapter at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and did an interview with Lauren Edmonds 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. 22-year-old Lauren Edmonds 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 Nursing 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?
Being the Chapter President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Nu Chapter is an extreme honor because Nu Chapter, in addition to being a single letter chapter, was the first chapter to be chartered in the State of Michigan. I was always taught that leadership is not just a position but an action, and to be a good leader I have to be able to think outside of myself and what I want and do what is best for chapter.

What made you decide to attend the University of Michigan Ann Arbor for undergrad?
I chose to attend the University of Michigan because I wanted to go somewhere where no one could ever discredit my degree. The University of Michigan has an exceptional Nursing Program, a 97% NCLEX pass rate, and I got a full ride scholarship.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Nu Chapter has many phenomenal programs, but the two that stick out most to me are our LaRue Heard Johnson Scholarship Ball and our Literacy Awareness book drive. The LaRue Heard Johnson Scholarship Ball aims to improve the surrounding community by awarding three scholarships; two to high school seniors and one to a current student on campus to help with the cost of education because we know how much of a burden it can be. The Literacy Awareness Book Drive also helps us to give back to the surrounding community because we are collecting new and gently used books for students in grades K-12 and then writing messages in them for the students. We wanted to do a literacy drive because we know how important reading and comprehension is as you progress through school. So we thought it would be helpful and encouraging for students to get some of our favorite books as black
women/black people because we know representation in reading is just as important as representation in other areas.

What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
When I think of the women who are a part of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, I think of women who are leaders, innovators, and catalysts of change. They are the type of women that I strive to be. They are active members of the community and investing in our youth. I wanted to become a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated because I wanted to join with women who had the same mindset, desire for change, and love of sisterhood so that I can continue the vision that I have for myself. Delta has helped me to be an example and a reminder for young women everywhere that anything you put your mind to, you can achieve.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Nu Chapter was the first chapter to be charted in the state of Michigan on April 7, 1921. We were chartered by the only five African American women on the University’s campus at that time. Since 1921, Nu Chapter has sponsored hundreds of social action and community service events. Nu Chapter members played an active role in The University of Michigan’s Black Action Movement (BAMN) Acts I, II, and III. In the late 1960s, Nu Chapter raised funds to purchase African-American books for Ann Arbor Public Library. In the 1970s Nu Chapter members volunteered with the Maxey Home for Boys (i.e., the Juvenile Detention Program), and ran a tutoring program at Taft Middle School.
In the mid-1990s Nu Chapter established the first bone marrow drive for people of color at the University of Michigan–resulting in recognition by the University as an organization of prominent student leaders. In 2014, Nu Chapter held the 45th Annual LaRue Heard Johnson Scholarship Ball awarding two deserving high school seniors with a scholarship for higher education. Annually Nu Chapter hosts “Women Dominating Dominated Fields,” a program focused on bringing together predominantly African- American women who are leaders in fields that are commonly dominated by men: engineering, law, medicine, politics, and entrepreneurship. In 2014 and 2015 Nu Chapter was recognized by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as the national undergraduate Chapter of the Year.

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?
Since undergraduate chapter members are seen as leaders on their campus, I think it is our job to use our platform for good. Social media representation allows not only the campus, but the world to see our programming, service, and organizations at a smaller level. We can also use these platforms to speak on key events or issues that impact us and our peers on campus.

What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is multifactorial. I think leadership requires you to understand your strengths and biases, but also those in your chapter. Being a leader means making the decisions and sacrifices that no one wants to make and handling them with grace.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom because it showcases the positivity in Greek Life and not just the stereotypes. I think Watch the Yard is unique because it’s more than just stroll videos. You all always show service, job opportunities, and even the history which sometimes gets lost in translation.

What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is having a lifelong friend forever. The sisterhood in Delta has brought so many phenomenal women in my life who genuinely wish me the best, and have strived to help me in any way or capacity possible. I know that I can count on my Sorors to be encouragers, listeners, and so much more.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I graduate this May with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and University Honors. My short term goal is to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse. My ultimate goal in life is to be a leader in maternal child health in the African American Community. I would like to specifically focus on the health disparities associated with preterm labor, health outcomes for black women during and after childbirth, and disease prevention within this population.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Lauren Edmonds for her work as the president of Nu Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1921.

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