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 sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s Xi Iota Chapter at the University of South Carolina – Upstate and did an interview with Sherrina Black 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 Black 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 secondary education major and talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
The Xi Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was initially chartered as Xi Iota City-Wide on the 10th of February 1979 on the campuses of Converse College, Furman University, Limestone College, Wofford College, and USC-Spartanburg (now USC-Upstate). It is an honor to serve as the face of the chapter. I am thankful to have the opportunity to continue the standard that was set before me. Being a President places me in a spot where I can express my leadership abilities in the best way possible by making an impact on my chapter and my community as a whole. It has allowed me to connect and network alongside other Chapter Presidents in the Sensational South Atlantic Region and nationwide. Being Chapter President has made me realize that everyone watches you even when you donâ€™t think so. Being the best role model and representation for my chapter will always be my ultimate priority.
What made you decide to attend the University of South Carolina – Upstate for undergrad?
I’m from Pendleton, South Carolina. Yeah, I know that you’ve mostly never heard of it. It’s a small town right outside the city limits of Clemson. So I have always been pressured to attend Clemson. I had applied to multiple larger colleges in my area including University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the College of Charleston. However, reality hit and tuition was not looking too appealing to me. In actuality, the University of South Carolina Upstate was never even on my radar. A friend referred USC-Upstate to me and I noticed that they had an exceptional education program. So I applied and it took off from there. Being involved on campus allowed me to recognize the diversity, resources, and potential Upstate has. In my three years of attending this institution, I have not once regretted my decision.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provides an extensive array of public service initiatives through its Five-Point Programmatic Thrust of Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement. The Xi Iota chapter plans to implement programs that are centered around these initiatives including Adopt-A-Highway, Toys for Tots, voter registration drives, public study sessions, physical activities like Zumba, fundraisers, community service projects, March of Dimes, etc. Through many of these programs, we are always collaborating with other campus leaders. This creates ample opportunities to impact our local community on a much larger scale. Our goal is to be able to give back to our community in ways that others might not have the chance to do.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
For starters, I had no clue what Greek life was until college. Fraternity and Sorority Life is very prevalent on our campus so, of course, it grabbed my attention. Freshmen year, I became a member of an organization called A.Bevy. This allowed me to meet so many people and create so many lasting friendships. One in particular is Elena Cunningham, a former member of Xi Iota. She was a junior at the time and as genuine as could be. She helped me often around campus and served as a mentor of mine. Any question I had, she always found a way to get an answer. I could never forget that. Once she was initiated into the organization, I wanted to learn more information so I did some research and truly fell in love with what Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. stands for. Once you know, you just know. It’s a passionate feeling thatâ€™s so unexplainable.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Of course, every chapter is different from the next. The Xi Iota City-Wide chapter was the FIRST Greek-affiliated organization on the campus of USC-Upstate forty years ago. That has required us to set the standard which we still follow to this day. Xi Iota has shaped and has been shaped by its members who are now doctors, lawyers, educators, social workers, sales representatives, and professionals in all walks of life. It takes hard work ethic and determination to have a succeeding chapter and past Xi Iota has made sure this was possible by continuing to pass the torch. Cheers to 40 years of sisterhood and achievement.
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?
In the upcoming generations, technology has played a major role in representation across all organizations, especially collegiate chapters. Appealing to the public visually can be difficult at times, but with the right platform, anything is possible. Of course, Greeks know of each other, but it is much more difficult to reach an entire community at predominately-white institutions. It is critical that we not only rely on a digital aspect, but to sustain old habits as well. For example, displaying flyers around campus or spreading the word during tabling events can increase attendance. However, the digital world opens a whole new ballgame. It allows you to post chapter achievements and accomplishments amongst the members. Programs, birthdays, graduation celebrations, awards, athletic statistics can be displayed in a matter of minutes. Chapters can now reach more people than just those who attend the school. This also opens up the floor for networking purposes, program ideas, strolling videos, etc. Even though social media can often be viewed as having a negative connotation, it truly exhibits the chapterâ€™s mission and can be exceptionally beneficial for promoting programs and community service.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is about creating two things: inspiration and results. An effective leader influences others to succeed in their organizations, academics, and even life itself. I believe that encouraging others to take a step out of their own comfort zones enables people to see something in themselves that they would never be able to see before. People do more work when they are motivated and inspired by the right kind of leadership, not just by authority. Our collegiate advisor and past Xi Iota member, Kayla Greene, is the true essence of leadership. Kayla has always pushed the chapter members towards the right direction regardless of the situation. She has not only required more than what is expected, but will not accept anything less. She also allows us to learn and grow from any mistakes we make. Even when we seem unsure, she will reassure and affirm that everything will work out. Kayla has always been someone who is supportive of our goals and accomplishments inside and outside of the chapter. With her as our role model, we have no choice but to supersede all expectations. People must realize that standing with progressive leaders who are willing to do more through their actions leads to productive outcomes. A true leader inspires others, implements plans, and illustrates results.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is critically essential to the black greek community because it acknowledges and educates individuals on all aspects of Greek life. Many chapters are able to display their efforts and achievements to so many people through social media photos, videos, etc. Unfortunately, Greeks are often displayed negatively in the digital world and I believe that Watch The Yard does an excellent job at illustrating to the world that there are plenty of those who do stand behind the purpose and mission of their organizations. Every accomplishment deserves to be showcased. Watch The Yard allows all Greeks to come together as a whole and recognize other Greeks who are thriving and succeeding in all chapters across the world.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is a bond that goes beyond what any words could describe. It means being there for your sister no matter what and showing unconditional love through thick and thin. I am grateful everyday to even have the opportunity to be apart of such a strong sisterhood. It truly warms my heart to know that I can travel across the world, meet another soror, and be able to have a conversation with her like I’ve known her for years. It goes beyond being in a chapter because Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a lifetime commitment.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation in May, I plan on teaching high school mathematics at a local school either in the Spartanburg or Greenville area. I’ve become acquainted with the Spartanburg Alumnae Chapter and have developed many connections so I know that it will be an easy transition from the collegiate to the alumnae level. I also plan to complete my Master’s degree by 2025 in something concerning Student Affairs, but I’m not specifically sure where I want to go for graduate school. Whatever I do and wherever I end up, I know that my work and passion for Delta will never die.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Sherrina Black for her work as the president of Xi Iota Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1979.