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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Shayla Owens the Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho at University at Albany

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 sorors of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Lambda Omega Chapter at University at Albany and did an interview with Shayla Owens the Basileus/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 Shayla Owens 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 Criminal Justice and Sociology major and talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership on campus in the digital age.

Read the full interview below.

What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?

To be a chapter president means that I must represent not only my chapter, but my sorority with respect, class, and dignity. I am the face of my chapter, meaning that I must represent Sigma Image and be ready to handle any challenges while also keeping my head held high. I must also be a person that my chapter can depend on.

What made you decide to attend the University at Albany for undergrad?

I decided to attend the University at Albany, SUNY because it has one of the top Criminal Justice programs in the country. I’ve always known that I wanted to become a lawyer at some point in my future, and this program has given me the tools I need to now to grow and succeed.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?

This year, my chapter will be doing more community service within the Albany community. We are planning to have a scholarship brunch to reward a student for high scholastic achievement and leadership development.

What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?

I knew that Sigma Gamma Rho was for me when I met Sorors who were all so unique, yet they all formed a bond through similar values and morals. After doing research, I learned that Sigma Gamma Rho was the only D9 sorority founded at a PWI. I know my founders have fought hard for my sorors and I to be in the position we are in now. They have faced adversity in order for this sorority to exist which speaks volumes about the kind of women they were and the kind of women who are in this organization. I love my sorority and everything it stands for such as serving the community and bettering the lives of women and their families.

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

My chapter is unique because we are truly lavishing. The women in my chapter have made connections with each other and we support each other through everything. We are well known around campus for our friendly smiles and positive attitudes. Everyone in my chapter holds leadership roles in the chapter and in other organizations as well. We have helped host Area IV meeting in October and have welcomed other sorors from across the region to our home in Albany with open arms and sisterly love.

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?

It is important for undergraduate chapters to showcase their talents, strengths, and service. The purpose of these organizations is to make a change in the world for the better, and with the digital world we live in, we need to represent ourselves with respect and show the upmost respect for our organizations and founders.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means to take initiative, but to also ask questions so that you can lead others in the right direction. No one is perfect, but with the right guidance, we can be not only leaders, but trailblazers, and influence a nation of younger generations.

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

Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom because it connects Black organizations in a positive light. This is a space for people to interact through similar experiences and come together to support one another, in a society that does not always support us. Watch The Yard also helps facilities conversations that may be difficult to talk about, but are very much needed in Black greekdom.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood is more than a word or a simple feeling. It is a conscious action that you must make in order to keep the relationships within the organization growing and glowing. The sisterhood you join is bigger than yourself. It is the foundation that my sorority was built on. I am my sisters keeper.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Currently I am in the Criminal Justice BA/MA program, finishing my last year of undergrad and starting my first year as a masters student. After I graduate with my masters in 2021, I plan to prepare for law school and start a career in my field.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Shayla Owens for her work as the president of Lambda Omega Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to March 31, 1990.

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