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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: John McDonald the President of Phi Beta Sigma at Baylor University

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 brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.’s Nu Zeta Chapter at Baylor University and did an interview with John McDonald the president of the chapter.

The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old John McDonald has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.

We interviewed the Marketing major and talked about his 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 elected as president of the Nu Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. has been a true honor. I have been privileged to serve in a role that is not only responsible for leading my chapter, but also responsible for positively impacting the Baylor and Waco communities. Nu Zeta has the reputation of being a fraternity for the people. Over the years, previous chapter presidents have left a legacy of service that I am now responsible for continuing. Setting the tone and providing direction for the chapter is vitally important for our continued success, so I am intentional about building future leaders in the brotherhood.

What made you decide to attend Baylor University for undergrad?
As a native of Atlanta, Georgia, I decided to attend Baylor University because it best aligned with my faith. Baylor University is the world’s largest Baptist university and provided a safe space for me to be a young Christian. It also allowed me to experience something different since most of the people I knew went to schools in Atlanta. Attending a school in Texas gave me the ability to have a completely new experience while building a reputation for myself independently.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
The Nu Zeta Chapter is a chapter for the people. Our programs align with our national program’s initiatives of Bigger Better Business, Education, or Social Action. Each Friday afternoon, the chapter travels to a local recreation center and mentor young kids ages 5-12. Our chapter has mentored these kids over the past 10 years and have been able to positively impact them by being role models.

One of our signature events, For Us, By Us: Black Business Expo, promotes student entrepreneurship by providing their small businesses a platform to highlight their products or services: DJs, hair dressers, barbers, etc. Minority Business owners in Waco also attend and discuss the reality of owning your own business.

What made you want to pledge Phi Beta Sigma?
As an out-of-state student, I did not have any friends who attended Baylor University. During the fall semester of my freshman year, I met a group of guys that stood out to me as the leaders on campus. Before I knew that they were in a fraternity, they conveyed to me that my success at Baylor was important and that they would look out for me. The Sigmas looked out for me as if I was already a brother to them. I recognized that Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was genuine about brotherhood and began inquiring about membership. The Nu Zeta Chapter did more than just talk the talk, they actually put into practice, “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”. The brothers in the chapter before me were active in the community and harped on the importance of service. Their values aligned with my own

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
What separates the Nu Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma from any other chapter in NPHC is the fact we instill a mentality of greatness into all of members that goes far beyond the fraternity. Brothers leave this chapter to become doctors, engineers, architectures, and business executives. The mindset to have greatness in everything that we do has sustained the chapter since being charted in 2000. No matter which iteration of Nu Zeta you look at, there is a common mentality of greatness that will always be there.

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?
All chapters need to utilize their resources for the betterment of their organization and community. The digital world we live in allows us to broadcast all our messages to potentially millions of people. Greek Life is consistently under scrutiny for all the negative aspects of the NPHC. So, we need to make sure we are highlighting all the positives as well. Using digital platforms to promote community events, scholarship opportunities, and positivity allows people to see Greek life as the assets to their community that they were originally intended.

What does leadership mean to you?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In my opinion, that is what leadership is. Leaders are change agents in a community that see a need, and work endlessly until their goal is achieved. Hosea Williams, A. Philip Randolph, & Huey Newton are individuals who saw in a need in their community, and were willing to make sacrifices to see it through. Furthermore, you also must make sure that you are creating a positive environment for individuals that can one day lead in your place. Leadership is complex because people are complex, and as leaders we are in the people business.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black Greekdom for two main reasons. One, Watch The Yard promotes the positivity of Greek life. You are always seeing members of different organizations prospering whether they are joining their organization, graduating from school, or just helping the community. Secondly, Watch The Yard provides resources that help everyone. The articles that deal with finding a job after graduation or project management are tools that everyone needs to know to and makes all of us better.

What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood means that we will do anything for each other. As an only child, there were very few close friends that I would call my brothers. So that term holds a lot of weight to me. No matter what a person needs, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, your brothers are going to be there to get you through. That bond creates a sense of belonging in that you know that you will never be alone.


What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I will be moving to Chicago to work for Allstate in their Leadership Development Program. The leadership program is a three-year rotational program that consists of three different departments of the company. Furthermore, I would be continuing to grow in the fraternity by joining the Upsilon Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend John T McDonald for his work as the president of Nu Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2000.

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