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Leadership Highlight: Rick Jackson the Polaris of Iota Phi Theta’s Delta Eta Omega Chapter in Birmingham, AL

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 Delta Eta Omega in Birmingham, Alabama and did an interview with Rick Jackson the Polaris 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. Rick Jackson, who works as a Public Relations Manager & Media Spokesperson, has been in the position of Polaris for two years.

We interviewed Rick Jackson, who is a Fall 2005 Montgomery, Alabama initiate of his fraternity 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 motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?

I was honored to take on the role as chapter Polaris because I saw that my brothers looked at me as a leader. We were just chartering Delta Eta Omega, which meant that I would be the very first Polaris. I knew the great task ahead of me and was ready to step up.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?

Our chapter is located in Birmingham, Alabama which is rich with Civil Rights history. The uniqueness of our location gives us the opportunity to tap into our heritage and the very things that our fraternity was founded on. This year we plan to find service opportunities that allow us to continue the work of uplifting our community through empowering the Black population, in particularly our Black men and youth.

What made you want to pledge Iota Phi Theta?

I pledged Iota Phi Theta because it wasn’t traditional; the stereotype wasn’t there. After studying the history and seeing what this organization stood for, I knew I belonged there. I was the first and only Iota on Auburn University’s campus at that time, and it wasn’t easy. However, those moments solidified my decision to be an Iota man, and I wear my shield with pride.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?

Our chapter is unique because I feel that we all want to work together. We have minimal conflict and that really helps accomplish the greater goals of the organization. We were chartered on Juneteenth that year and I think that set a tone for us.

How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?

We love being a branch of support for our younger brothers in the area. It’s important to instill in them the things that they don’t learn in class. We enrich them with brotherhood and the ins and outs of being a positive male in life.

How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?

I think it’s important to realize that before Iotas we are all men. We have families, careers, and children. Being able to first connect on that level is the most important thing. It gives you a sense of concern and humility that is often lost in organizations and corporate settings these days.

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?

I’ll advise aspiring leaders to listen and delegate. You can’t do it all alone.

How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?

Mentorship is very important and has played a crucial part in where I am today. The thing that I’ve learned is mentorship is not defined by age. Your mentor can even be younger than you. Be open to it.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?

I think Watch The Yard is so important to our culture because it illustrates the positive side of Black Greeks. It gives us a peep into other organizations around the world that some would not have the chance to see. Iota is sometimes foreign to others, depending on where you’re geographically located, so Watch The Yard is a great avenue for educating about our D9 orgs.

Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?

I feel that I’m a part of something that matters. As we continue to grow, I feel that I’m writing some of history. Our motto is “Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One.”

Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?

Brotherhood means a lot to me. It transcends the organization. If we all showed true brotherhood to our neighbors and uplifted each other often, the world would be a much better place for us all.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Rick Jackson for his work as the Polaris of the Delta Eta Omega chapter.

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