In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Rho Sigma Chapter in Detroit, MI and did an interview with Angela Bullock the Basileus of the chapter.
The position of Basileus/president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Angela Bullock, who works in healthcare administration, has been in the position of Basileus for 1 year.
We interviewed Angela Bullock, who is a 1990 initiate of Sigma Gamma Rho at San Jose State University (Epsilon Omicron Chapter) and talked to her about her 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 felt a sense of duty to serve the organization that I love. As a natural leader, I wanted to help my chapter be successful and have worked to give back in any way that my time and talents can best be utilized. I genuinely enjoy my chapter sorors, so working with and for them was a no-brainer.
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?
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has Five Essential Programs that are executed annually on the local level across all the chapters. Rho Sigma is honored to host an annual Youth Symposium that focuses on uplifting, educating and empowering teens with tools to address current issues. Our 2023 Youth Symposium partnered with Oakland University, Oak Park High School and 2 other local Alumnae chapters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. The Symposium included several sessions on mental health wellness and college readiness. Another important program we executed in 2023 was Project CRADLE Care. This program was done in partnership with Brilliant Detroit and was a community baby shower focused on at risk mothers to provide support, encouragement and supplies to ensure a successful delivery and equip them to handle the first few months of motherhood.
Rho Sigma Chapter is also a proud annual host to Swim 1922 – an initiative developed in partnership with USA Swimming to help engage more members of the black community – especially mothers and children in the activity of swimming. Boosting swim competency has proven to help lower the incidence of preventable death due to drowning. This year, we partnered with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, Rho Sigma Foundation, SPEAR Foundation and another local alumnae chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho to hold this impactful community event. In 2019, Rho Sigma earned the distinction of having hosted the largest Swim 1922 event (pre-covid) in history.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. as a sophomore in college back in January of 1990. The members of Epsilon Omicron Chapter differentiated themselves on the campus of San Jose State University by being engaging, friendly, and dedicated to all women on campus regardless of Greek affiliation in a way that I had never observed before. My time with them as an interest solidified my commitment to the organization as the chapter allowed us to be involved with community service and other campus activities that piqued my desire to become a member. Perhaps the biggest differentiating factor that ultimately solidified my decision to join Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was the authentic demonstration of true sisterhood. I knew that my presence and work mattered and was valued at every level and that sparked something within my spirit that has not diminished in my 33 years of membership.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Financial and active since its chartering in 1936, Rho Sigma Chapter in Detroit is the largest alumnae chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in the State of Michigan. Our membership spans all generations with members from their early 20’s up to their 80’s and 90’s. Our chapter has a rich history of leaders at all levels of the sorority as well as pillars of the Detroit community and beyond. In fact, one of the charter members of Rho Sigma Chapter, Dr. Rosa Slade Gragg was an American activist and politician. She founded the first black vocational school in Detroit, Michigan; and was the advisor to three United States presidents. Dr. Gragg was also inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Rho Sigma Chapter currently provides support and supervision to four undergraduate chapters in the area including Alpha Eta Chapter at Wayne State University; Delta Epsilon Chapter at Eastern Michigan University; Iota Psi Chapter at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and Xi Upsilon Chapter which is a Detroit Metropolitan Chapter for smaller universities in the Detroit area. As a matter of local process and policy, we provide advisement, financial support, training, and mentorship to all four chapters. Beyond that, as many of the members of Rho Sigma Chapter are alums of the local undergraduate chapters, several of the sorors go above and beyond to ensure the success of the undergrads. Rho Sigma works to build true bonds of sisterhood with our undergraduate sorors.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
Building and strengthening authentic connections among our membership is an ongoing priority for our chapter leaders. We do this through several mechanisms, both formal and informal. For example, new members are paired with a mentor at induction. We have social meet up activities in celebration of the 22nd of every month. Moreover, we conduct training and activities that allow members to engage and get to know each other beyond the meetings. Another helpful mechanism for connecting is social media including group chat forums (such as GroupMe) that are exclusive to the chapter and specific committees. Other activities, including our annual Round Up help to promote engagement and build connections among the members. Additionally, we are currently in plans for a chapter retreat in the late Spring.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
Jump in! You can start small wherever your comfort level and experience will allow. Join a committee and volunteer to lead something. Talk to other leaders, shadow leaders and study the ins and outs of the organization (and the specific area of interest) to build your own knowledge base. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and remember to uplift and celebrate those around you who help you to succeed. There is no secret formula to leadership – the biggest thing you can do is stick to it even when it gets tough and keep a servant leader’s mindset to do it for the greater good and not just for the glitter and the glory of a title.
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?
Because I joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. at the young age of 18, the sorority has essentially raised me into the woman and leader I am today. With invaluable opportunities for leadership from the beginning, I was continuously challenged to rise to the occasion and strengthen my skills. I learned from strong, intelligent, graceful, hardworking, beautiful women how to do the work and show up and make things happen with excellence, integrity, and respect. They showed me through their example that leadership is cultivated through engagement, encouragement, and support.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard shows the full diversified extent of what is possible from our Black community. Beyond parties and colors, Watch The Yard helps to bring depth to the history and experience of the D9.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I know that being a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has helped me to be more confident in how I present myself, better at working with all types of people and stronger at driving major challenges to positive resolution. Beyond that, many of my lifetime best friends are a direct result of my membership in Sigma Gamma Rho and that alone is priceless.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
For me, Sisterhood means being there, having their back (and them having yours), a listening ear, a word of encouragement, a tough conversation, a road dog for new adventures, a thought partner, a collective of goal aligned women, a sea of smiling faces, role models, mentors, family, a sense of belonging. Through good times and bad, sisterhood is both powerful and under-rated and I wouldn’t trade the sisterhood of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. for anything.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Angela Bullock for her work as the Basileus of the Rho Sigma chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1936.
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