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 Kappa Mu Chapter at Sam Houston State University and did an interview with Yessica Ortiz the Basileus/president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a D9 sorority is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Ortiz 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 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?
The Kold-Blooded Kappa Mu Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc has been on the Sam Houston State University yard since November 22, 1984. Being able to hold the Basileus position for my chapter has been an honor. My time as Basileus has been both an educational and a rewarding experience, it has given me the opportunity to continue a legacy of the sisters that crossed before me built. It has provided a place in which I can exemplify my leadership skills and continue to grow as a woman. I have had the pleasure to network with many people in the Greek Life community, in all councils. Although, I have had many wonderful moments as Basileus, there have also been many moments in which I was required to step out of my comfort zone. I had to learn that to be a great leader you must know when to follow. I have learned that serving such a prestigious role does not come easy. With managing a small chapter, there has been many roadblocks, but it never has been anything that has not brought a lesson to me. Despite the numerous amounts of leadership positions, I have held in my short 21 years of life, being The Kappa Mu Chapter Basileus has been the most unique and educational experience thus far. It has not only made me a strong leader but a stronger individual as well, it has taught me that through hard work, dedication, and prayer there is nothing I can not do. I am extremely blessed and grateful to be able to hold the Basileus position for The Kappa Mu Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated.
What made you decide to attend the Sam Houston State University for undergrad?
I decided to enroll at Sam Houston State University because of their Criminal Justice and Education Programs. When I first moved to Texas from New Jersey, Sam Houston State was my first choice, but I decided to attend The Prairie View A&M University for a year because it was closer to home and I was not yet ready to leave home. After three semesters at PVAMU I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and follow through with what I truly wanted , and it was to attend Sam Houston State University. I have been here for a year and a half now and although it has been hard adjusting to being away from my sisters, I have managed to accomplish a lot in my time here and I very grateful for the opportunity both the my parents and the school are providing me with.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Kappa Mu has been closely working with bringing awareness to Breast Cancer. We took on this initiative because we believe that early diagnosis is key to a better prevention and a higher survival rate. We began the semester in August with a T-shirt sale that brought in great revenue, we also sold Frito Pies at the WelKome BacKK Day Party held by the Rho Pi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc and all the money raised from both fundraisers will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation after our Breast Cancer Vigil Event this upcoming October. I believe this will help our campus community in that it will further their knowledge on how to prevent Breast Cancer and how to deal with it once you are living with it. Kappa Mu has always been a Chapter that gives back to the community in tremendous ways weather it be at the Food Bank, giving out supplies for Operation Big Bookbag, holding event that will benefit the student body or even hosting study hours for students. We strive to better our community because we believe we must be the change we want to see in the world.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I always knew I wanted to pledge, but it wasn’t until after extensive research that I knew exactly what organization I wanted to join. I decided Sigma Gamma Rho because Mary Lou and the Crew were unafraid, unapologetic and zealous. The ONLY sorority that was founded in a PWI with the grand dragon of the KKK in their backdoor. They broke down barriers at Butler, and that is something that highly caught my attention. With being a Latina in a Black sorority there has been many tribulations, but I have embodied my Founders purposes and goals to their full extent. Sigma’s mission to enhance the quality of life for women and their families , through community service, civil and social action is something I have always done, at a young age I learned that I needed to give back to those who did not have what I was blessed to have, I have always loved to volunteer, especially at Lupus Walks. I knew Sigma Gamm Rho, was the right choice for me.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Kappa Mu, we have so many different personalities, so many backgrounds, and yet we are the smallest chapter in our NPHC Council. We might be the smallest but that has never been an issue for us, we put on successful events, we are always on the yard, we are always out there doing community service. Kappa Mu does not follow anyone else’s trends, we set our own trends and always exceed our own expectation. Kappa Mu never disappoints, and we will only grow from here.
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?
Social Media is a vital advertising form in todays digital age. As undergraduate chapters I believe we need to be able to keep up with our social media, put out information constantly and continuously be in the know. Social media is a great recruitment key therefore I believe that the quality of the material you put out; is also the quality of potential members you attract. Social media can have a major positive impact on one’s chapter if it is used correctly.
What does leadership mean to you?
Each of us think we have an answer to what leadership truly is or what it takes to be a good leader. To me, leadership can be embodied by being of service to others. I feel as though a leader must serve her team, and not the other way around, it is based on inspiring others and cooperation. A leader leads by example and actions for the greater good of those around her.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I know that Watch The Yard is important because it brings to light all the positive things Greeks everywhere are doing. It provides a positive platform for us to show everyone that we are not what others make us out to be. Watch The Yard always has the latest events that other chapters put on, it gives Greeks a spotlight to shine and show everyone else all their hard work and dedication to their respective organization. It has become a very useful tool for Greeks everywhere.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
I grew up with two sisters younger than me, so I know what it means to be a true Sisters Keeper. Although, I have two wonderful and smart young sisters that have been my rock throughout all these years, I always wanted to have a bigger sister or sisters around my age that would understand all the difficult situations that we go through on a day to day basis. Through Sigma Gamma Rho I have found my sisters and mentors. Being in a sisterhood is not always easy, we might bump heads, we might argue here and there but its never anything we can not get out of. Having each other’s backs, being there for each other and knowing that if one of us cries, we all cry, if one of us falls, we all fall and if one of us wins we all win! My sisters know that we have each other’s back through anything and everything, FOREVER.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I still have two semesters left to complete my bachelors degree; I am currently unsure what I want to do but I do know I want to pursue a master’s in education. My passion for teaching our youth grew mid-way through my college career and it is something I see myself doing in the future. I know that teaching is the right place for me, because teachers are the foundation of our system, without them we would not go far!
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Yessica Ortiz for her work as the president of Kappa Mu Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1984.