In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorors of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Delta Kappa Sigma Chapter in Somerset, Middlesex and Union Counties in NJ and did an interview with Stacey Rodgers-Crooms 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. Rodgers-Crooms, who is a Director of Global Benefits, has served in the position of Basileus for two years.
We interviewed Rodgers-Crooms, who is a 1990 initiate of her sorority, 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 does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
Being chapter president means the women of my chapter have confidence in me to lead the chapter in a direction that reflects the sorority’s mission. It is my responsibility to keep the best interest of the chapter and my sorors at heart at all times, reminiscent of the obligation I took when I was initiated into Sigma Gamma Rho some 29 years ago. It entails many phone calls, lots of emails and almost 24/7 accessibility. My role includes encouraging friendships and accountability within the chapter, assisting others with solving problems, providing advice and maintaining impartiality. Easy? No. If it was, everyone would do it however, I couldn’t have asked to lead a more supportive, patient and encouraging group of women! It is indeed an honor to serve these women in this capacity.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
During this sorority year we will focus on many community service initiatives with three of our national initiatives providing the framework for all that we do. Operation BigBookBag (OBB) – In partnership with the local chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, OBB provides school supplies, mentoring and tutoring to children who may need a little extra support. The next is Youth Symposium. Held on the second Saturday of March by Alumnae Chapters nationwide, Youth Symposium is a unified effort to support our youth and is designed to highlight some of the prevalent concerns that negatively impact them: drugs, teen violence, abuse, low self-esteem, suicide, teen pregnancy, etc.These issues are addressed via workshops, mentoring and references to local resources. Lastly, we are planning to host a swim clinic called Swim 1922. Swim 1922 is a partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and USA Swim. Sigma Gamma Rho’s national partnership with USA Swim has provided swim clinics in various cities throughout the USA. The chapter’s local and support of national initiatives are designed to help young people acquire life skills, provide a safe environment to learn how to swim, gain education about water safety and models a behavior of service which encourages young people to do the same.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
In a word, service. I knew a woman who I had gone to high school and college with and she was always talking about her sorority and the work they were doing on campus. I never thought I was interested in becoming a member of a sorority but her commitment, devotion and high praise of the organization intrigued me. When speaking to various women of the organization what immediately stood out to me was that there was never any pressure to conform, there was an appreciation for the diversity of thought, experiences and points of view. I did a little research, attended a few functions of all the D9 sororities and realized Sigma Gamma Rho was where I belonged.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
We. Are. Family! Although we are a small chapter, we are hardworking and incredibly supportive of each other. I’ve born witness to such kind acts of love, including the famous 2-finger tap on the shoulder when one of us ventures off in dangerous waters, generosity and kindness. We are unequivocally aligned in supporting and promoting the sorority’s mission, impacting our communities and encouraging each other. Our focus is execution with excellence. We are all very busy women; women with families, jobs, educational aspirations, trials and tribulations who through it all stand together in Sigma. I love being a member of the Dynamic Delta Kappa Sigma chapter!
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
Creating an online presence is a powerful tool to reach various audiences. In order to establish an effective online presence, alumni chapters need to be consistent with the frequency of posts in addition to finding the right balance in what to post. Presenting the chapter in a consistent manner across various social media outlets helps control the perception of your chapter. Diversified content keeps the follower engaged; a balance between national initiatives, local programming and lighter content such as wishing a soror happy birthday or recognizing a sorority anniversary can be an effective tool in building awareness, dispelling the myths that surround Black greekdom, recruitment and education.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is the ability to influence others to work independently or in a cohesive group to accomplish a common goal. You don’t have to hold an executive office to be a leader.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
There are so many stereotypes and misconceptions about Black Greek Life. The only headlines that seem to make it to mainstream media or the extreme situations, usually involving a hazing violation. Watch The Yard is an important voice in showcasing all the great work done by members of the Divine Nine all around the world. Black Greek-lettered organizations play a vital role in uplifting the voices and concerns of the communities that remain under-served.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood to me is a bond between women where there is no competition, we celebrate each other, we disagree respectfully, we are impeccable with our word and we don’t take everything personally.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Supporting undergraduate chapters is an ever-evolving process. Young people are facing challenges that we couldn’t have imagined when I entered Sigma Gamma Rho. We try to find the right balance between interacting with them as young adults and guiding them with a gentle hand. Our support manifests itself in various ways, including but not limited to coaching, program support and attendance, financial support, leadership training and career counseling.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Stacey Rodgers-Crooms for her work as the Basileus of the Delta Kappa Sigma Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1974.