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 Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Beta Tau Chapter at Morgan State University and did an interview with Alexis Samuels 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 Alexis Samuels 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 Actuarial Science 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?
Serving as the Basileus of the Breathtakingly Thorough Beta Tau Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has been an honor. The Beta Tau chapter was charted December 15, 1954, on the campus of Morgan State College. Being chapter president allows me to be at the forefront of the chapter ensure all initiatives and National Programs are being executed. With the advice from our past Basileus, Kalyn Williams, I have connected with other Sorors from both undergraduates and graduate chapters to assist in planning of future events. They also have provided guidance for me to ensure sustainability of the chapter.
What made you decide to attend Morgan State University for undergrad?
Morgan State University was not my first choice of college. Actuarial Science is a very specific degree and there are only a number of Universities across the USA with an Actuarial Science Bachelor’s degree program. I planned to attend Georgia State University, but Morgan’s Actuarial Science Program offered full ride scholarships. I was granted the opportunity to apply and became a Travelers EDGE Scholar, which is a full ride scholarship program for those interested in Actuarial Science. On the other hand, I come from a family of HBCUs. My mother attended Grambling State University in Louisiana, and my older sister attended Fisk University in Tennessee. Looking back, I am blessed of the decision I chose to attend Morgan State as the opportunities and resources the school provides is amazing.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
This year, the Beta Tau chapter is starting a new initiative called “Life Lessons with Sigma”. One aspect that lacks at Universities is the preparation of life after college. We want to improve how college students are prepared when they graduate. These “lessons” will include life hacks, self-care, and financial literacy. We want to not only focus on the financial habits after college, but also inexpensive ways to make your daily tasks easier. Our goal is to have students better prepared for life after graduation at the conclusion of this series. This would be an ongoing initiative for the chapter when new leadership steps in.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
My Mother, Soror and Friend, has been my biggest influence growing up. My Mother crossed into Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. during her undergraduate tenure at Grambling State University. I joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Beta Tau chapter because of their dedication to their mission and the tangible presence they provide on the campus of Morgan State University. The Sorority’s mission states that we enhance the quality of life for women and their families. Their National Programs prove the action of its members supporting the mission. On campus, the Beta Tau chapter held events related to these programs and consistently carried themselves in a positive manner at all events. The chapter made you feel welcome and never left out, which encouraged my decision to become a member of the this illustrious sorority.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is unique because all of our founders are educators who fought to create a sisterhood that stood for Greater Service, Greater Progress. We also were the ONLY sorority founded at a PWI.The Beta Tau chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc was the first undergraduate chapter in the State of Maryland. The Beta Tau chapter is Breathtakingly ThoRHOugh because of our dedication to Sigma. During Boule in July of 2018, the Beta Tau chapter won Outstanding Undergraduate Chapter of the Year on an international level. We strive to ensure we are helping the community through Sigma Service. In the Fall of 2016, we have had our largest line since the 1970s of 14 young ladies.
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?
Being in a digital world if it’s not on social media, nobody knows about it. Undergraduate chapters must have an online presence to make themselves known throughout their respective colleges/universities. Our chapter uses social media to not only promote our events, but promote the chapter. In the Spring of 2018, we had a “Love Your Crown” social media initiative. During this one-day initiative, we reposted ladies who posted a picture with their natural hair and why they loved it, using the hashtag #LoveYourCrown. Because each person would tag our chapter page, it brought more traffic to the page and awareness of whom we are as a chapter. As a social media initiative for Women’s Empowerment Month in March of 2019, we will be spotlighting one Soror every day of the month to showcase their accomplishments. Undergraduate chapters should utilize social media to their advantage. Spotlight your members and their accomplishments! This will give character to your social media page rather than a page of flyers.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization, but a leader can be shown in many ways. I consider a leader as one who influences individuals to become the best they can be. They are the ones who continue to move forward and fearless through all obstacles. Qualities of a leader include being resourceful and having strong communication skills. I believe a leader should value honesty and respect, treating others with dignity, empathy, and even compassion. Leaders humble themselves when mistakes are made by recognizing their wrongs and make it right. Leaders strive to make a change when they notice a change needs to be made. They are the ones who stand strong and let nothing tear them down.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black Greekdom because of the resources and support it provides. Watch The Yard supports all D9 organizations across the nation. They recognize accomplishments, initiatives, and even new member presentations. It serves as a way to see what other chapter in your respective fraternity/sorority are doing and accomplishing in a POSITIVE aspect and not negative. There are a number of pages that show the negatives of Greek life, but Watch The Yard promotes the success of D9 organizations both current students and alumni. They go into the history of these organizations, providing a space for those wanting to learn more about the sororities and fraternities in a non-biased way.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood means having a group of women you bond with, grow professionally with, and a support system for the rest of your life. Having a sisterhood means you treat them as blood sisters. Your sisterhood is your second family. You go through hardships together and build each other back up. Within a sisterhood, you never have to worry about anyone judging you because you are always accepted for who you are.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
In May of 2019, I plan to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science with a minor in Business Administration. I am blessed to say I have accepted a full time offer with J.P. Morgan Chase. I will be a participant in their Tech Connect Software Engineering Program in Wilmington, Delaware. I do plan to further my education and receive my MBA. After graduation, I will support all the new members and new leadership of the Beta Tau chapter, as those before me did.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Alexis Samuels for her work as the president of Beta Tau Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1954.