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 Beta Lambda Chapter at the University of Toledo and did an interview with Tiaira Smith 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 Tiaira Smith 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 Social Work 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?
To be chapter president you have to be a leader, obviously, but many people do not know what it takes to be a leader. To be a leader you must posses qualities that make people want to follow you. You have to be understanding, have active listening skills, know to work with other people, and always remind your members that every decision is a collective effort. You have to be confident in what you are doing. Running a chapter is a lot of work, and if you are confident in what you are doing people will be more likely to follow your lead. You have to be positive. If you are negative all the time, no one is going to want to follow your lead. Positivity can change the outcome of many situations because words of affirmation will attract that positive outcome. Lastly, always be a team player and never make your members feel their voices aren’t heard.
What made you decide to attend the University of Toledo for undergrad?
The University of Toledo has a very diverse administration and programs that extend opportunities that many colleges may not have. The school really cares about its students and make many efforts to ensure we graduate.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
This year, my chapter was able to bring back our Crimson and Cream Scholarship Ball. This year we were able to donate a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving young lady who expressed her need to be a leader and aspire others to push through oppression in the Black community. Initiatives like this help the Black community because we are providing opportunities for Black students to further their educational career. Especially when there is a high drop out rate for Black students due to financial problems. If my chapter has the opportunity to change that, we will do so.
What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?
Reading about founders and all they efforts they did really inspired me. Only after two months of our founding, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was the ONLY sorority who participated in the Women Suffrage March in March of 1913. The purpose of the March was for the advancement of all women. They endured so much hatred and racism during that march but that did not stop them. They kept going because they knew they were apart of something bigger than them, and I too, wanted to be apart of something bigger than me.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Beautiful Beta Lambda is unique because we strive for greatness. We strive to be the best in everything. We strive to have amazing programs that focus on issues that directly impact the Black community. We strive to have the highest GPA. Fall of 2016 we had the highest GPA across all councils on campus. We strive to give back to our community in anyway possible in the Toledo area. We focus on the betterment of our members by being overachievers.
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?
Definitely become more engaged on social media. Social media runs the world right now and if chapters or its members put themselves out there, they may come across an opportunity to really help themselves and/or their chapter.
What does leadership mean to you?
Refer to question about Presidency.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I love Watch the Yard because it is one of the few media platforms that show the positivity of Black Greek Life. In this age of social media, everything tends to be so negative. Social media has taken away the value and scarcity of Black Greek life because the negative aspects spread faster than the positive aspects. Many people do not know or understand Greek life and refer to social media for answers and understanding. But pages like Watch the Yard really do a good job at showing the true purpose of Black Greek life; which is the advancement of the Black community.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is one of the main reasons why I wanted to join Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I grew up an only child and I’ve always wanted an older sister. Now being in an organization with hundreds of sisters is more than I could ever ask for. Sisterhood means being loyal to each other, holding each other accountable, respecting each other, showing unconditional love, guiding each other down the right path, and helping your sister grow into her full potential as a women.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Since my major is Social Work, I plan to focus on mental health in the Black community. Mental health is taboo to Black people. We do not understand the detrimental effects it can have on someone. We must break those generational curses by informing ourselves and getting professional help. I plan on opening my own practice for counseling to increase the representation of Black people in the field of mental health.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Tiaira Smith for her work as the president of Beta Lambda Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1937.