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 Pi Gamma Chapter at Western Carolina University and did an interview with Mariah Youmans 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 Mariah Youmans 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 Communication Science and Disorders 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 a chapter president means that the work is never done. As chapter president, it is my duty to speak on behalf of my chapter, as well as ensure communication between my chapter and all other entities in which we hold obligation. Whether it is helping think of different fundraisers for the chapter or different bonding events I make sure that we are doing all that we can do as a chapter. As the President, I ensure that we remain our best, from making sure all of our chapter’s data is up to date and all deadlines are met, to checking in on my sisters; the job of the president is constant. Being that we are the reactivation chapter of 4 years, it has been a lot of work, but being the chapter president of the Pi Gamma Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated has been the most rewarding experience that I have had at Western Carolina University. If I could do it all over again, I would choose the same path each and every time.
What made you decide to attend Western Carolina University for undergrad?
I decided to attend Western Carolina University for undergrad because of the Communication Science and Disorders program. I know that WCU’s program is one of the best in North Carolina and I wanted to surround myself with that success. Having lived in North Carolina I had many options of colleges to choose from, but after visiting WCU for the first time, I knew that it was the school for me. I knew that it was a school in which I could make something of myself, and I did just that. Also, I love the Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains, definitely the most beautiful mountains to wake up to in the morning.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
This year the Pi Gamma chapter has really focused on getting our name out on campus and in our community. Being at a PWI we have really tried hard to get involved in as much as we can on campus. Being on a college campus, we have really focused on different struggles that college students go through. Some struggles may include the worries and stress dealing with debt, preparing for future, and different ways to be safe in the environment they are in. We listened and understood what students were going through and we created programs that will prove beneficial to students. This academic year we have hosted many different programs such as “Paint Your Problems Away” which allowed students to come and paint or color to help relieve stress as we approach final exams. We also hosted a “Rape Aggression and Defense” program with the WCU Police Department to educate students on different self defense techniques to protect themselves when they are in certain situations.
When planning what we want to achieve, we focus on the needs of our community and how we can maintain that sense of community; with that, we are constantly doing volunteer work. As a chapter, we volunteered with residential living and assisted with “Freshman Move-In”, helping freshmen move in on campus and get settled into their dorm room. College can be a very challenging transition for some, and we wanted to ensure freshmen students knew what a Catamount welcome felt like. When “Family Weekend” came around, we volunteered alongside the Dean of Students to help students prepare. As a chapter, we packed family weekend goodie bags by welcoming the families of the students on campus and gave the families tickets and a schedule to all of the family weekend events. We recently participated in Stompfest at Western Carolina University and won $1,000 to put into our chapter account and that is a huge accomplishment for us! Stompfest really helped unify greek life on campus. It truly was an astonishing experience to see all of greek life come together for such an event. It just goes to show how greek life can work together to improve the community!
Although we live on campus, we are truly aware that our community extends beyond our campus and we look for ways to extend our reach further into our community. Recently we volunteered at the Cullowhee Community Garden, picking up trash and helping plow holes for for future plants that will be planted. The Cullowhee Community Garden is a donation based garden in which local gardeners are able to grow their own fresh produce and also donate some of their produce to help feed people within our community. Not too long ago North Carolina had the 8th highest rate of food insecurity in the nation and we are truly humbled to do what we can to improve that ranking. Community is very important to us, because that is where change happens; and we intend to continue putting our all into everything we do, especially our community.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
I am originally from Philadelphia, PA. My aunt is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and I had the privilege of growing up around her and her line sisters. My Aunt is very determined, strong, passionate, and NEVER gives up. Now that I am older I see that is every Delta women I have ever encountered. A woman who is about her business, who isn’t afraid to try something that many others told her “wasn’t going to work”, and a woman who wants to see a change in her community. Being surrounded by women like this was inspiring. It led me to be the woman that I currently am today. After doing my research to ensure this was the sorority for me, the Five Point Programmatic Thrust stood out. Delta has programs that reach out and help people from many different walks of life but their primary focus is on the black community. That means a lot to me because my community helped raise me and I feel it is extremely important to give back. Delta Women have continuously gone above and beyond the job or task they were/are supposed to be doing. Delta women truly are about their business. Lastly, I was really hoping to gain the sisterhood that I have gained. Before I pledged, I really struggled with finding a group of women who support me and push me to be my best. I saw that the sisterhood Delta Women have was something unmatched. This is a sisterhood I am thankful to say I am a part of!
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
My sisters and I agree that what makes the Pi Gamma chapter unique, amongst others, is our bond. Our passion and determination to make a difference, not only in the lives of one another but in our community, is inspiring. We bring a new and refreshing perspective to Western Carolina’s campus that the student body truly loves. Moreover, we may bend but we never fold. THAT is the true meaning of true sisterhood.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
Being that we live in a digital world, it is important for undergraduate chapters across all orgs to really watch what they are putting on social media. I think social media is a good tool to use to represent your organization. I think chapters should really focus on publishing what their chapter is doing in regards to programs, volunteer work, and awards. It allows people to see the work that you are truly doing. Anything on social media can go viral and it may not always be something positive that is going viral. Being cognizant of what you are posting on social media will also help in the long run when people are getting into their careers.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership has many different definitions. To me, leadership is ensuring that everyone else around me is on the right path. It is pushing everyone to be the best that they can be in everything they are doing. It means being honest with others and wanting to see success for them. Sometimes leadership is knowing when to follow; it is important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are to help the people around you become successful.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black greekdom because it is strengthening our black community. It shows the different things NPHC is doing within different communities. It puts a positive light on future college students and shows that they can truly make a difference in the world we live in. I would call it the digital Essence magazine for my generation!
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood to me is knowing that there are people always there to help build me up whenever I fall. It means having a home away from home. It is knowing that there are people there who support me and want to see me be the best that I can be. It is knowing there is someone who accepts my flaws and loves me just for who I am. It truly is having an unbreakable bond with someone that can’t be broken.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I will be graduating May 11th, 2019. After I graduate I plan on attending graduate school to receive my Masters of Arts in Speech and Language Pathology. I will go on to establish my own therapy practice with a focus on patients who have intellectual disabilities. As a Delta Woman I know that no dream or job is too big. I know that wherever I go I will stay in touch with the Pi Gamma Chapter and get involved with an Alumnae Chapter to continue to give back to those around me.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Mariah Youmans for her work as the president of Pi Gamma Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1984.