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 Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s Psi Chapter at the University of Minnesota and did an interview with Samson Ghirmai the Polemarch (president) of the chapter.
The position of Polemarch in Kappa is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes as the Polemarch of a single letter chapter. 20-year-old Ghirmai does it brilliantly and has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.
We sat down and spoke with the Industrial Systems Engineering major and talked about his position, goals, future and what it means to be a member of a Black fraternity in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
The Progressive Psi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc has been at the campus of the University of Minnesota since Saturday April 19th, 1924. Being Polemarch of this historic chapter is an honor. I have the opportunity to continue the legacy of the brothers who crossed before me, and at the same time work with the brothers on the yard now to create our own. I’m extremely proud to be the Polemarch this year and to be a NUPE in this bond. It has aided in networking with other Polemarch’s and brothers within the North Central Province and across the country. The relationships that I have made, I will never take for granted.
What made you decide to attend the University of Minnesota for undergrad?
I attended Apple Valley High School which is only 25 minutes away from the University of Minnesota. My family didn’t want me to go far from home. Since I’m in Minnesota, didn’t leave me many options honestly. I wanted to pursue engineering and the U has one of the best programs in the country. The school is located in between two major cities and has three campuses. It doesn’t feel like a college town. There is literally something to do or see in Minneapolis or St Paul any day of the week. The U of MN is a unique school with a lot of history that you learn to appreciate because there isn’t anything like it.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
As well as following the national undergraduate initiatives, Psi chapter is focusing on communicating with the campus community. Having discussions that affect the individuals on our campus. Also checking in with campus leaders in possible collaboration opportunities to have a more united community. The campus changes every year, and we feel like we need to stay in touch with those that support us. As well as conducting more fundraisers and community service projects with our fellow students and Psi alumni. The goal is to have a more united community, especially since only 4% of the student population is African or African American.
What made you want to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi?
I’m originally from Eritrea, I had no Greek background or information before entering college. I was apart of a Living Learning Community called Huntley House for African American Males my freshman year. Through that I met Brother Malik Day, former Psi Chapter Polemarch. He helped all the freshman with their resumes, helped generate connections with local companies, find scholarships, and have fun with parties on the weekend. I didn’t know he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi until my second semester. He took me out to eat, answered any questions that I had, and introduced to me to other brothers of Psi. Most importantly, he kept in touch and helped me out with anything that I needed. I pledged The Progressive Psi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi because those brothers live by the motto “Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor” every day. It’s a family that I’m proud to say I am apart of. No matter when you crossed, the brothers are always there to help or just kick it with you. Nupes don’t cheat, we Achieve.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Every chapter will say that they are different from everyone else. I believe what makes Psi chapter different from everyone else, is the people that have crossed over the last 94 years. Each era is different from the last, but we all share the same chapter. The brothers that we have here in MN all have different stories and experiences that have made Psi what it is today. Athletes, Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors, School Administrators, Fathers, Soldiers, Teachers, Celebrities, Journalists, and the list goes on. You cannot have a successful chapter without brothers who take the time to learn from each other and pass it down to the younger generations. The Progressive Psi Chapter has had different faces over the last 94 years, but has always stayed true to one thing. Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor.
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?
I personally attend a PWI, and not many people on campus know who/what the Divine 9 is. Living in the digital age, social media has allowed individuals to network and share their content easily. The music industry is a great example. Chapters now have these tools to show what they are doing and who they are. This is especially helpful at PWI’s. The campus can now see your community service, you upcoming events, strolls, updates on graduates, and the list goes on. You can also network with other chapters all over the country with a press of a button. Something that we shouldn’t take for granted. You aren’t limited to your campus and chapter anymore. Use your social media to share the things that you are doing on campus. If you got athletes, show their stats and game pics. If your brother or sister got an award, post it. Let the community know what you are doing on your campus.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important because it shows the world what we are doing in a positive aspect. Chapters are able to share what they are doing at their campuses as well as dope pics and videos that deserve to be shown. Greek life is having a lot of bad media recently, but Watch The Yard shares the stories that need to be shared. There are no other sites that share accomplishments of D9 graduates, undergraduate/alumni chapters giving back to their communities, probates, step shows, news from different schools, and the list goes on. Watch The Yard unites us, and is a space for us to thrive.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood to me means that we have each other’s back no matter what. I can always call my brothers in need of aid, grab food, study, or kick it. Its amazing knowing that we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but we all have the same love for the fraternity. One thing that I will never take for granted is being able to ask for help from those who came before me. No matter how long they’ve in the bond, they will take time out of their day to check in. Whether it’s about the chapter or life in general. Always looking out. When traveling or going to a conference, I can hit someone up from the chapter out there or meet someone for the first time and its always love. The bond is strong and those that are fortunate to be apart of it can agree.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I still have two and a half years left to complete my major, so I’ve got some time. I currently don’t have a set plan on what I want to do after I graduate. I know that I want to continue to help my community in whatever career field that I choose to pursue. I’ve had thoughts to become licensed in an area of trade so that I have experience and opportunities in different aspects of the workforce. As well as support my brothers here at Psi, or the NUPES wherever I end up living at. As my prophytes have aided me as an undergrad, I want to pay it forward with those who come long after my student days are done.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Samson Ghirmai for his work as the Polemarch of Psi Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1924.