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 Sigma Epsilon Chapter at the University of Central Florida and did an interview with Bethanie Derice 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. 22-year-old Bethanie Derice 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 Sport and Exercise Science 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?
As cliché as it may sound, being chapter president of the Sophisticated Sigma Epsilon chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. means everything to me. As president, you are given the opportunity to continue the legacy of those who came before you. I have not only learned a lot about my sisters and organization but I have learned a lot about myself. I enjoy seeing how far our chapter has come over the years and playing an important role in taking this chapter to another level.
What made you decide to attend the University of Central Florida for undergrad?
Orlando, Florida is considered home to me. After graduating high school, I decided I was going to stay home and just commute to the University of Central Florida. I attended a very small high school and almost everyone I graduated with attended an HBCU. I knew coming to a PWI would force me to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
Our chapter focuses a lot on Z-HOPE, one of our national initiatives that touches the lives of men, women, youth and seniors. We do a lot of programming that covers cancer and mental health to bring more awareness within our campus/community. We also do programming where we make cards and/or care packages for the elderly, veterans, and other groups that may be in need. As well as making sure that we are always dedicating time to the youth through our Adopt-A-School program where we mentor and provide workshops for the students because the children are our future.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
Growing up, I did not have a mother figure at home. The go-to women in my life were my teachers and different women within the community. When I got to high school, I had one teacher who stood out to me the most. I admired everything about her and she was truly an inspiration. And guess what? Yep, she was a Zeta. I automatically became interested on getting to know more about the organization and Greek Life. First generation student so I didn’t have any one in my family who were Greek so I just knew what I saw. Once I got to UCF, the ladies on campus were so sophisticated and genuine. The work they did honestly spoke for itself.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Every chapter is unique in their own ways and honestly it’s because of the individuals who come through this chapter. For over 40 years, the women of the Sigma Epsilon chapter continue to aim for the highest level of sophistication and excellence despite the different walks of life and experiences. We learn from one another and grow with one another because it is important that the Sigma Epsilon legacy continues.
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 believe that undergraduate chapters should maximize the use of social media to highlight their organization and members and also use it as a networking tool. Take advantage of it! Inspire others and be inspired. Showcase what you all are doing such as service, events, and accolades. Remember to show love if you come across someone else accomplishments, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership embodies those selfless individuals who influence others to live up to their full potential. I believe that being a leader has a lot to do with the people around you. You have to be able to see the potential in others and challenge them to be great. As a leader, you also have to be a visionary. No dream is too big when you are taking the proper steps to achieve it. You must be passionate about what you are doing. If your heart is not in it, it is not for you. Leadership is not an opportunity to seek praise but to work towards the greater cause and focus on the people you are impacting.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is very important to Black Greekdom because it promotes Greek Life in such a positive light. Watch the Yard never fails to show us the amazing things that our organizations and members are doing all across the nation. It’s a great way to connect and/or even get ideas from other chapters within your organization. Watch the Yard is also educational, posting articles about current events and even historical figures within our organizations.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
To me, sisterhood means never standing alone. We hold each individual to a high standard and uplift each other to be better by challenging one another not only in Zeta but our personal lives. We are a very close-knit chapter and honestly, it feels weird going a few hours without talking to one of my sisters. Sisterhood is knowing that we will be there for one another regardless and that runs deep, not only within my chapter, but Sorors all around.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on obtaining my Masters in Athletic Training (AT) or attending Physical Therapy school. I will remain active within my organization and continue building my Zeta resume. As a undergraduate, one of the biggest issues I see is the transition from our undergraduate to graduate chapters. I want to help with closing that gap, making sure that undergraduates are getting all that they need to make a smooth transition into their local graduate chapters. The work doesn’t stop here!
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Bethanie Derice for her work as the president of Sigma Epsilon Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1978.