In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.’s Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter in Georgia and did an interview with Pedro Alvarado the Polaris/president of the chapter.
The position of Polaris/president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Alvarado, who is a PhD student, has served in the position of chapter president for almost two years.
We interviewed Alvarado and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
It really means a lot for me to serve as chapter president. It gives me the opportunity to serve my brothers as we collectively serve our community. It also calls me, personally, to a higher level of accountability because my brothers, literally, gave me their vote of confidence in my leadership by electing me to be their president and I don’t want to let them down. Additionally, as the voice of our chapter to the community at large, there is also a responsibility to ensure that when I speak, I uphold our ideals and principles. I take the notion of being a servant-leader very seriously and work very hard to demonstrate that in all my deportments.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
At the present time, our chapter is preparing for the St. Jude walk. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides medical care for children suffering from various forms of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Many of the families St. Jude’s serves are black families. None of the families that St. Jude’s serves ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, lodging, and/or food. I am proud to say that the Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter has raised the most money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in all of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated for the last four years. This accomplishment is no small part because of Bro. Ronald “Red” Redic who works tirelessly to ensure that we raise as much money as possible for this worthy cause. His diligence and dedication are much more responsible for this success than my leadership is.
What made you want to pledge Iota Phi Theta?
I wanted to pledge Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated because several of our founders were non-traditional students. I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t go back to school to finish my undergraduate degree until I was 40 years old. I had always been interested in Greek life. Many of my friends were Greek and my wife is an AKA. So, while I was working on my undergrad degree, I came across Iota and found many similarities between the founders and myself. Not just the non-traditional student part, but also the commitment to social justice and the elevation of the black community. It was then that I decided to pledge an undergraduate chapter as a non-traditional student and join the brotherhood and “concept” that is Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated. It is one of the decisions that I have never second guessed.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated is unique to our organization in that we have brothers from many, many walks of life. We have neophytes who are near 60 years old and “old heads” who are closer to 30 than 40. We have members with degrees from A.A. to Ph.D; who work in trucking, K-12 administration, develop new flavors for Coca-Cola, are in graduate school, and are new college graduates. We are the “everyman” chapter that has room for any brother who wants to work hard for Iota.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
In my opinion, alumni chapters should promote the work that they do in the community on the behalf of their organization and they should promote the brotherhood/sisterhood that exists within. In this social media age, it is important for people to see Greeks, especially black Greeks, working towards our ideals and principles. Social media is one of the best ways to grow an organization, because you can’t grow what you don’t show. But social media can also be the Achilles heel of an organization if what you show doesn’t uphold the values of your organization.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership is about influence that is earned through a consistently good work ethic, steadfastness of character, and meeting the financial obligations of your national organization and the local chapter. Before I was elected president of our chapter, I was already a leader because I had earned the influence of our brothers. Influence means the brothers have trust in me and I strive to perpetually earn that trust by upholding our principles and by listening to the brotherhood. Leadership is also about making sure there is a vision for your chapter. When the chapter has a clearly defined vision, the brothers will rally around it and work synergistically to make it happen. When there isn’t a clearly defined vision, participation from the brotherhood becomes inconsistent.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black Greekdom because it highlights the positive work of our organizations. Additionally, Watch the Yard, demonstrates the level of unity that, I believe, all D9 Greeks should aspire to, by covering each organization as equally as possible and celebrating the accomplishments of all our organizations. I’ve never seen Watch the Yard throw shade or promote the throwing of shade, nor have I seen Watch the Yard put out negative stories. It’s all about promoting the best of us and the best of our work.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood/sisterhood means that we should be promoting bonds of love, trust, and affection for one another. It means celebrating each other in times of victory, mourning with each other in times of sorrow, holding each other up in times of trouble, and holding each other accountable for the work we’re supposed to be doing. Brotherhood is one of the strongest attributes of Iota Phi Theta and the Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter. We genuinely care for each other. We support each other’s events that aren’t Iota related. We know each other spouses and kids. We hang out when it’s not Iota related. We’re not just frat, we’re also friends.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
The Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter serves as a resource to the undergrad chapter we support, which is the Eta Upsilon Chapter at Georgia State University. Obviously, we give them money because undergrads are always broke. But we also help them learn how to plan ahead, navigate university policies, find campus funding sources for events and conferences, and we go to a lot of their programming and community service initiatives. Most important though, is that we treat them as younger brothers, not just “those undergrads.” Our undergrads know that their voices and ideas are as valued as ours and that wherever we go, they’re always welcome to join us.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Pedro Alvarado for his work as the Polaris of the Epsilon Omega Alumni Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1976.