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 Kappa Phi Chapter at the University of Maryland – College Park and did an interview with Sydney King 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 Sydney King 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 Information Systems and Marketing 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?
With having the opportunity to serve as Chapter President for my chapter, it has allowed me many great opportunities for me to exemplify my leadership skills. My experience thus far has been both an educational and rewarding experience. I have had the pleasure of networking with members in my organization itself but also within the Greek community. I have learned so much from the various retreats I have attended, one being the Maryland Greek Leadership Conference, where I was able to meet other presidents and executive board members across all the greek councils to develop ways to improve our campus community.
While I have had many enjoyable moments as president, there have also been moments that required me to step out of my comfort zone, as well as face my weaknesses in order to be the most effective president I could to get the job done. I have learned that serving the role of president does not come easy, I have also learned the value of teamwork and trust when it comes to running a chapter.
With operating a small chapter, all of whom are my linesisters, we are very close which helps us perform well and work together efficiently. However, I also had to learn the principle of “business versus pleasure”. My linesisters and advisors too have also been very supportive throughout my entire time in this position. They have guided me in learning the procedural business of how to operate a chapter, as well as served as shoulders to lean on when needed.
Despite the numerous amount of leadership positions I have held during my time here at the University, being chapter president has been the most unique experience thus far and has made me a much stronger leader. I have learned how to handle business with the people that I consider family, while also being able to lean on and learn from other greek leaders on campus all to help bring relevant issues to our campus through each of our individual core values.
What made you decide to attend the University of Maryland – College Park for undergrad?
I decided to attend Maryland because I felt it was the right place for me where I could be challenged and grow as an individual.
After several college visits, Maryland was the first school I felt was home. Not to mention, I also come from a Terp family so that was a tid bit of influence too. My orientations and student visit days at the business school also really influenced my decision as well. As as young incoming freshman back in 2015 sitting in the lecture hall seats of Frank Auditorium in the Robert H. Smith School of Business- I immediately felt welcomed to the school and saw it as the best fit for me to grow in my career.
Almost 4 years later, I can definitely attest that my time here at UMD has prepared me for a great future in store. I have been able to establish a great network to enhance my professionalism. The business school really ensures that all students are prepared to enter the workforce with a global mindset and strong background to be the best. There are several networking events that allow students to gain practice and establish their own networks so that everyone can receive great opportunities in the future. I have learned how to build my brand and pioneer my path to reach great heights of success.
Through my internship experience at Northrop Grumman, my study abroad trip to Cape Town, South Africa, and rigorous courses I have taken have all made me a stronger person and leader as well. Maryland has been my home away from home and I will forever be thankful for the people I have met here as well as the opportunities that have been provided to me during my time.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Two big initiatives that our chapter is focusing on for this year are cross-council relations and mental health awareness.
To expand upon cross-council relations – we attend a school where we are fortunate to have four councils present that represent the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life. They include IFC( Inter-fraternal Council),PHA( Pan-Hellenic Council), MGC( Multicultural Greek Council), and lastly NPHC ( National Pan-Hellenic Council). While we are fortunate to have all four, sometimes it often times feels divided due to differences in chapter protocol and communities. As Greeks, we should not only work with those within our chapter, organization, or council, but rather put all our initiatives and principles together to unify each other.
For our chapter specifically, we are working with not only other organizations within different councils through programming but also community service events so that we can improve relations but also give back to the community to support great causes.
As far as mental health awareness, we believe that this is a topic that is difficult to address, but is also very important for the campus community to understand. There is a plethora of research being conducted in regards to mental health illness and one of our goals as a chapter is to bring awareness especially to the African American community with an outlook on how to seek treatment and increase awareness. Also, with Physical and Mental Health being one of our five programmatic thrust, as a chapter we strive to put on extensive programs to not only bring awareness but also help make it a more comfortable topic to eliminate the stigmas within our society.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
With growing up with one younger brother, I had always wanted to have a sister. My brother and I are very close and I would not trade our bond for anything; however I always wanted to know what it felt like to have a sister in addition to being a sister. When I came to the University of Maryland, I had an idea of greek life since both of my parents are a part of the Divine 9 ( mother – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and father- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.) , but I wanted to find out for myself what greek life was really about.
I started doing my own research and began to attend the events that the Kappa Phi Chapter held on campus and really resonated with the core principle values that the sorority adhered to maintain. I was inspired by the programs that were put on by the current chapter at the time and the national programmatic thrusts that the sorority abides by to execute their initiatives. Also, I am a strong believer in giving back to the community through public service.
Coming from high school and being very involved with community outreach and giving back to several non-profits, I wanted to continue those same efforts in college as well. Most importantly, I wanted a strong sisterhood which was very important to me. I wanted to be able to give back but alongside those with the same mindset to help make a difference.
Today, I am forever grateful for the sisterhood that I have been blessed with through Delta. Not only has it helped me grow in several ways establish a great network, but has allowed me to share this everlasting bond with my mom and aunt whom I can call my Sorors and of course my line sisters whom I am so blessed to have to share this sisterhood alongside me and my journey that I will forever cherish.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The thing that I appreciate the most about my chapter is that everyone is really close and helps each other when in need. We have a very close relationship with our advisors as well, who too were initiated through Kappa Phi and I believe that is a strong component of our chapter dynamic.
Looking deeper, the Kappa Phi chapter overall has a strong and positive reputation not just on the campus at University of Maryland but on a higher level as well. When I attended the Regional Conference this past May 2018, several people came up to myself and my advisors notably recognizing the chapter for all of the hard work that we do and for all of chapter’s achievements as well. It says alot when your chapter has such a positive image on a regional and national level, and that made me proud to serve as President for Kappa Phi. Lastly, the sisterhood within our chapter is very strong. Sorors will come back for alumnae events and chapter programs to support the chapter and build relationships so that the strong sisterhood maintains and continues as a tradition moving forward. Overall, the network within the Kappa Phi Chapter is so strong and connected so I really appreciate that I am able to have such a strong support system that I can count on through my future endeavors.
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?
With the digital world increasing with new technologies day by day, I believe it is very important that undergraduate chapters be very mindful of how they present themselves via Internet. Not only is it important to represent the chapter in a respectful manner but as individuals as well. Anything that is posted on the Internet can be accessible, so for undergraduates especially it is important to be mindful on what is posted.
As undergraduates a lot of us are in search for full time employment opportunities post-graduation or other circumstances that help us progress in the future- so it is imperative that we post on social media with appropriate content. Also, members in undergraduate chapters serve as leaders on campus so there is always someone watching how members present themselves. It is important that members strive to create a positive outlook for not only the chapter, but themselves individually and for the campus as well. Overall, chapters should create guidelines or abide by ones that might be set in place by the national organizations/ school policies so that they ensure the chapter is represented in a positive manner as the use of Internet increases overtime.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means working together with others to help evoke change. With being a leader, sometimes we are faced with difficult tasks, but it is important to never give up and maintain strong communication in order to ensure to get the job done. Also with leadership it is important to understand the value of teamwork to make sure things are getting done in an effective time manner. I am a strong believer in working together and communicating with those I am working with so that everyone is on the same page and works effectively to reach the end goal. The effects of strong leadership are very rewarding and it is important to me to create a tight bond especially within my chapter so that we can achieve our goals and maintain a strong sisterhood.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black greekdom because it allows for members across the Divine 9 to be unified across a portal that represents chapters worldwide. Also with Watch The Yard being a digital platform, that helps promote events that occur across chapters via the Internet, especially since the use of technology is continuously growing within our society. Watch The Yard is a very special component to Black greekdom because it helps instill that while there are different organizations, there is still the same mindset of strong network of sisterhood/brotherhood with a focus on scholarship and community service overall.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood means that no matter how hard things may get during times of tribulation, there is always that network that one can rely on to uplift and support in times of need. This bond is like no other and is such an important aspect within the greek life community. The relationships that are established are for a lifetime and at the end of the day there is always someone there to support one and their future endeavors. I am extremely grateful for the sisterhood that I have gained through Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and would not trade it for anything as it has helped me grow in several ways and I am excited to see the growth in my journey moving forward.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After my graduation in May 2019 from the Robert H. Smith School of Business , I plan on continuing my education to receive my Master’s of Science in Information Systems. I am currently enrolled in the Plus One program which allows me to start taking courses now during my senior year so that I can obtain my degree by May 2020. During the summer, I plan on completing an internship for which I currently have an offer at Northrop Grumman Corporation as a Systems Engineering Intern in Baltimore, Maryland.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Sydney King for her work as the president of Kappa Phi Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1974.