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 brothers of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.’s Alpha Chapter at Morgan State University and did an interview with Devon Campbell the president/polaris of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Devon Campbell 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 Electrical Engineering major and talked about his 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?
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. was born of the Civil Rights Movement of 1963. Our founders actively fought oppressors in Baltimore City in an effort to gain equal rights and representation. Fifty-five years later, the Alpha Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. is still working toward that goal. As the fraternity expands, it is important to recognize that the Alpha Chapter sets the pace for what is expected from other chapters and members within the fraternity. As Polaris, I am given the opportunity to promote that vision. It is truly an honor to serve in the same position that my founders have served and to build upon their efforts. I come as one, but I stand as one thousand.
What made you decide to attend Morgan State University for undergrad?
I graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, the number one public school in the city of Baltimore. I had all the stars aligned for me to attend another top school in Maryland and one tiny, yet crucial mistake cost me my attendance. I submitted my application 5 minutes late and was wait-listed for the following semester. I was heartbroken, but I had to look at my other options. My back-up school was Morgan State University. I didn’t want to go because it was often regarded as “the 13th grade” of my high school. However, going to Morgan was one of the best decisions I could have made. Morgan has so much history and has extensive opportunities for those willing to work for them. My experiences at Morgan have made me the Morgan Man that I am today and I am proud to say that I am a Morganite.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
The fraternity lives by the five principles of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity, and brotherhood. Given that most of our programs cater to students, many of our chapter’s initiatives are geared toward scholarship and leadership. Let’s be honest, students come to college for one reason: to make money in a lucrative career straight out of college. This starts with making good grades that reflect well on your transcript. Our goal is to give you the tools necessary to see your career goals come to fruition.
What made you want to pledge Iota Phi Theta?
I did not know much about Greek Life when I first came to college. No one in my family was Greek and the closest exposure I had to Greek Life was Stomp the Yard. During my Freshman year, my goal was to change the notion that Morgan was the “13th grade” and help create a name for the school. I knew that I could not achieve this goal on my own; I needed a platform that would exist during and beyond college. One day while studying in the library, I was introduced to Thomas “Tex” Dean. He mentored me during my freshman year and helped me secure my first internship. One day, he sat me down and shared the fraternity’s history with me and told me that the fraternity is looking for men that like to set themselves apart from the crowd, men that are proactive instead of reactive, and want to help build something from the ground up. I was fascinated by the stories and the passion that was in his words. Little did I know, he was the three-time Grand Polaris of the fraternity. He had as much a role of building the fraternity as the founders. I look to be as influential as he has been in his many years in the fraternity.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
My chapter is unique because it is the Alpha chapter. It is the first chapter of the fraternity and much of the history of the fraternity comes from this chapter. We set the standard for what many of the chapters should look like and we encourage other chapters to raise the bar higher.
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?
It goes without saying that each chapter needs to be active on social media. There are people actively working to shine a negative light on Fraternity and Sorority Life, but it is our duty to address these misconceptions portrayed in the news. My chapter uses our social media to highlight our programs and community service projects, showcase our strolling and stepping abilities, and promote discussions with our community.
What does leadership mean to you?
In short, a leader should possess the ability to develop and clearly communicate his/her vision to others. The leader is responsible for ensuring that the vision comes to fruition by establishing goals and motivating his/her team to help achieve these goals. When these goals are met, a leader shares the success with the team. However, when the goals are not met, the leader must accept the consequences.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I like to think of Watch The Yard as the unofficial NPHC historian. They work diligently to preserve the name of Black Greekdom and ensure that the amazing feats of the Divine 9 are documented. “If it isn’t on Watch The Yard, it isn’t good enough.” I think they help set the standard of how Greek Life should look, and I hope to continue to watch them grow and develop their platform.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Many people think that a brotherhood is simply a group of men that share the same ideals and network. However, to me, it is much more than that! The brothers in my fraternity are family to me. These are the people that I confide in and who genuinely care about my well-being. It is a nice bonus to know that I can ask a favor of any brother and get a guaranteed response, but for me it is more important to know that the bond is genuine.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I’m currently in my fourth year of studying Electrical Engineering. I have been fortunate enough to secure internships for the past 3 years and I am looking to secure one final internship as an Embedded Software Engineer before going full-time. I would like to give back to my community by helping the students gain opportunities in their respective fields. Before I retire, I want to start my own non-profit geared toward helping the homeless get back on their feet.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Devon Campbell for his work as the Polaris of Alpha Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to the founding year 1963.