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 women of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Eta Omicron Chapter at West Virginia University and did an interview with Airiana Bryant the 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 Airiana Bryant 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 Speech Pathology and Audiology major and talked about her 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 a chapter President is a rewarding experience. It means that I get to lead my chapter into the right direction and contribute to the growth of my chapter. I get to help my chapter flourish and excel in my own way, while also continuing the legacy that the women who came before me left. I want to leave a mark on my chapter so that they will confusing to leave a mark on this campus going forward.
What made you decide to attend West Virginia University for undergrad?
I decided to attend West Virginia University because even though I am from WV, I knew that it was going to be a change that I needed. There are so many different people that go to school here. There are people from different areas, backgrounds, and cultures and I needed that. I knew that I would get the full college experience not too far from home.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
This past semester, we were our doing community service almost every single weekend. Our next initiative is trying to get the rest of the Africa-Americans on campus involved in the community with us. We go to a PWI and only about 4% of the student population is black. So, getting out there in the community and doing positive things will allow us to leave a mark on this campus, and this community together. Also, it will bring the black community on this campus together in the process.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
Before attending college, I knew nothing of the Divine 9. I never thought that I would want to join a sorority. Once I got on campus and was introduced to black greek culture, I was very interested. I am not very close to many people in my family. It has always just been me and my grandmother, and she was three hours away from me now. I wanted a family. The Zetas on campus at the time were friendly, welcoming, and treated each other like real sisters. They had just gotten rechartered and had already came in with highest GPA for sororities and March of Dimes Most Improved Chapter Award. They were putting in work. Once I did my research, there was no other way for me to go than Zeta.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Extraordinary Eta Omicron chapter was actually chartered as a Black Panther chapter in 1993. At that time, tensions were running high between races on this campus. They came in strong and unified and made strides in this campus.
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?
I think that posting all of the things that we are doing and trying to do is a good thing. Social media is a big factor in everyone’s life now so getting the word out there about how much chapters are doing in a way that everyone will see it is essential. Submitting positive things to pages like Watch The Yard also makes a big impact. People, whether they are Greek or not, look at these things and can gain inspiration and interest in what we are doing.
What does leadership mean to you?
You are there to guide people in the right direction. You will need to be tough, but also be able to balance that out with being a shoulder to lean on in times of need. You will need to have the ability to take responsibility and be held accountable for everything that happens under your command, good and bad. You have to do the right thing and make tough decisions. You have to believe in what you stand for and what you are doing. When you are a leader, you have to have the passion to lead no matter how hard it gets. You have to be the person that people can put their trust in.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard sheds a positive light on the Black greek community. It shows how hard we are working and serves as an inspiration to everyone looking. It highlights more than just stepping and strolling. It shows off the excellence of ALL of our organizations and represents the legacy of Black greek culture.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is being there for each other and always having each other’s back. It means being a shoulder to cry on and a confidante. Also, it is being able to give and receive sisterly correction when needed. No matter what, I am able to call any Soror that I know and they will be there. People from all different backgrounds, cultures and races come together in this organization as sisters. No matter where I go, any state and any campus, the sisters that I have there will welcome me with open arms and automatically have my back. It is an amazing feeling.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I plan on going right to graduate school. I also would like to move to a different state. I want to get involved with some of the speech pathologists in the community in whatever state that I am in. I plan on finding organizations that help people with disabilities in the community since that is what I am passionate about. I want to continue the work that I have done here in whatever state that I venture off to. I would also like to join a graduate chapter to continue my work with Zeta.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Airiana Bryant for her work as the president of Eta Omicron Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1993.
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