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 Nu Delta Chapter at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and did an interview with Kia L. Proctor 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 Kia L. Proctor has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around her.
We interviewed the English major, Digital Media Studies minor 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?
Being Nu Delta chapter Basileus is an honorable position to me. After I crossed in November 2017, I held the position of Anti-Grammateus (secretary) of my chapter. So, I have always held a position but being president is much different. To my chapter, I am a voice of reason and guidance. To the outside, I am the face of my chapter and the delegate. This makes me very mindful of what I say and do more than ever before. My chapter was chartered 26 years ago, and I intend to uphold the brand that my sisters before me worked so hard to build. As an introvert, I lead a lot differently. Being president isn’t telling people what to do. It’s being a coach, a helping hand, and a support system. But at the same time, it’s being able to put my foot down and make the hard decisions. As a president, I have to listen twice as much as I talk and critically think 10 times more than anything else.
What made you decide to attend the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for undergrad?
I decided to attend UMES for many reasons. I didn’t want to be too far from home or too close. I am originally from Prince George’s County. Schools like Morgan and Bowie were too close for me. UMES, being two and a half hours away, was the perfect distance. My mother and friends from home are able to visit me without going too far out of their way, but I’m not tempted to go home every weekend. Another reason why I chose UMES is because of the size. It’s not too big or too small. When I first stepped foot on the campus, I immediately felt at home. I didn’t feel that when I visited other colleges. And most importantly, tuition wasn’t too expensive.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
In Spring 2019, we plan on having programs and initiatives that assist with issues in the African American community such as mental health, self-esteem, and college acclimation (especially for first-generation college students). The majority of our programs in the coming semester will fall under the Project Reassurance: Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations umbrella. We also have programs that will serve the purpose of strengthening the bond and expand the reach of the D9 orgs and the social fellowships on our campus.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I was always curious about Greek life. One of my aunts is an AKA and one of my mentors in the past is a Delta. So, I was exposed to some of the positive aspects of sorority life such as the community service and the sisterhood. However, I was skeptical about joining a sorority because of the stereotypes and horror stories associated with Greek life. Nonetheless, I thought that I should put those things to the back of my mind and do my research. I looked at all the mission statements of the organizations and Sigma Gamma Rho stood out to me. “Our goal is to achieve greater progress in the areas of education, health awareness, and leadership development.” This is the line that grabbed my attention. SGRho focuses on education and that is something that has always been important to me. I am a tutor in the University Writing Center and was contemplating becoming a teacher. Even outside of formal education, gaining and spreading knowledge has always been something that has been important to me. The seven illustrious founders of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. were school teachers, and this further solidified my interest. Once I went to the first interest meeting, the atmosphere and vibe that I got from the advisor, Dr. Harris, was friendly and welcoming. From that experience, I knew I didn’t have to fit a certain mold or change my personality to fit into SGRho. I was sure I was making the right decision.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Before we reactivated in Fall 2017, the Nu Delta chapter had been off the yard for 10+ years. We were tasked with trying to make a space and name for ourselves on campus. This is one thing that sets us apart from the other organizations on our campus. Although some organizations are reactivating or chartering on our campus, we are the youngest sorority, so it seems that we have to work a lot harder for our place. Within my chapter, we have a lot of different skill sets and personalities and this makes us unique. Because we all have different connections, goals, and strengths, we are able to uplift and assist each other a lot easier because what one person can’t do or doesn’t know, another person does. This also helps us to be able to come up with new, one-of-a-kind event ideas or ways to implement our national programs on a local level.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
I think undergraduate chapters need to ensure they are presenting themselves and their respective chapters in the best light. Oftentimes, it is easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of social media. I also think chapters should have a huge social media presence and lots of positive interactions with other people and organizations, especially since most people have accounts on social media. Aside from promoting events, chapters should showcase the accomplishments of their chapter and its members. No accomplishment or endeavor is too small for accolades!
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is multi-dimensional. Because I hold several other executive positions in organizations at UMES (English Honor Society president, Phi Kappa Phi student VP, and Hawk Radio secretary), I have truly learned the meaning of good leadership. A good leader is humble, decisive, and a mentor for those who are following them. Communication is very important as a leader. Being able to delegate, ask for assistance, and share ideas with those within your organization is key. Also, when difficulties arise, the president is usually the problem-solver. A leader must be able to communicate effectively and with tact. In the broader sense, one thing a leader has to remember is they are often the bridge from their organization their campus and other organizations or individuals. The majority of the time it is up to the leader to build rapport and connections.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard has been a positive showcase for Greek life. In today’s age, it is very important to shine a light on the activities and initiatives that different chapters and organizations are having outside of the usual stepping and strolling we see on social media. It allows people that have not joined an organization to see Greek life for what it truly is beyond the myths, stereotypes, and what they see in the media. It also has enough articles and information that Greeks can use to inspire change in their own communities and on their respective campuses. It also allows a space that Greeks can set their differences aside and focus on the commonalities in the functions of the different organizations and the purpose of Greek life in general.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
When you’re on the outside looking in, networking is one of the reasons to join an organization. However, when I joined SGRho, I realized that sisterhood is more than networking on a professional level. I’ve met Sorors from different states that were within my same major (English) and were able to assist me with homework or understanding concepts I couldn’t comprehend on my own. I’ve also read and given feedback to my Sorors that are writers or artists. Because UMES is basically in the middle of nowhere, it was initially hard to connect with Sorors around our age. We had to cultivate a relationship with the chapter at Delaware State University. The first time we visited their campus, we were welcomed with open arms and shown love and true sisterhood. I also realized that sisterhood transcends age. I have met older Sorors, especially within our graduate chapter (Mu Omicron Sigma), that I have made genuine connections with. Once I started my custom paddle business, they were extremely supportive even if they weren’t making purchases. Two of them told me that my creativity and my business inspired them to return to the arts themselves. On the other hand, sisterhood is also being able to correct or assist someone in a loving way. My sisters are those who have no problem telling me when I’m out of line or doing something wrong. This was especially important when I was a neo and wasn’t accustomed to being Greek yet. Sisterhood is always a two-fold experience.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
When I graduate, I know I want to teach English. My original plan was to apply for a resident teaching program in Prince George’s County that will certify me to teach middle school and high school English. However, I learned about a teaching opportunity in Japan where I would be teaching English to children ages 3-12. Planning and preparing to move across the country is both exhilarating and frightening since UMES (200 miles) is the farthest I’ve been from home. Being able to share my love of English with children who aren’t native English speakers would be a truly unique experience; so, this is my “Plan A.” I only have to commit to one year in Japan. If I get too homesick or don’t like the experience, I will come back home and get certified to teach in PG County.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Kia L. Proctor for her work as the president of Nu Delta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1992.