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 Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Alpha Alpha Alpha Zeta in Planning District 16 which includes the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, & Stafford as well as the City of Fredericksburg in Virginia and did an interview with Brenda B. Gates 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. Gates, who is a Senior Lead Engineer, has served as Basileus for over two years.
We interviewed Gates, who is a Spring 1989 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?
To be an effective chapter president that means you must persevere through challenging times; make many sacrifices of your time and family for the love of the organization; be a visionary to see into the future for the chapter; possess forward and positive thinking; have compassion by depositing encouragement, love, and support into others; and make difficult decisions on behalf of the chapter for the organization in a whole.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
For sorority year 2019-2020, AAAZ is heading up three major programs, Zeta Youth Auxiliary, Scholarship, as well as Zeta Adopt-A-School. The Zeta Youth Auxiliary Program will target girls in our communities to instill and provide educational enrichment, leadership developmental skills, interpersonal skills, as well as involvement in community service projects through social and cultural activities. For our Scholarship Program, we plan to give away at least one $500-$1000 scholarship to one high school student per county and city of Fredericksburg in Planning District 16. For our Zeta Adopt-A-School Program, we have partnered with Caroline County Public High School and collaborated with their “K-12 Profile of a Graduate” Program with a strong emphasis and focus on STEM, Workplace Skills, and Career Exploration. We are determined to serve Planning District 16 and to continue to make a positive impact in these communities.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s four principles of Scholarship, Service and Finer Womanhood aligned with my beliefs and goals in life. I believe in helping others and giving back to the community and those that are less fortunate. In addition, the sisterly bond that last forever and being a “Finer” woman affords me the ability to be successful in all that I do. Lastly, just to know that the Zetas and Sigmas are the only truly bonded brother & sister organization in the Divine 9 is amazing! This gives me a sense of protection that will consistently put my mind at ease.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
What makes Alpha Alpha Alpha Zeta (AAAZ) Fredericksburg Chapter unique is that we are a small chapter (less than 20 members) that continues to grow and we have made a huge impact in our communities. Whenever AAAZ is present at different community activities/events, I have heard people say, “I always see your organization around the community. It’s great to see others helping and giving back to us.” Those words of encouragement and belief from the community energizes our chapter to commit and do even more to the various community events. Over the past five (5) years, AAAZ has made many sacrifices and I am so proud of each member for answering and going beyond the call of duty within Planning District 16.
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?
We need to ensure we stay on top of new digital technology and utilize these opportunities to move our alumni chapters into a bright future.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means being a role model, accountable for your actions, communicating information, creative thinking, having compassion for others, making commitments, being honest, motivating and inspiring to others to soar higher, being strong, possessing intelligence, and standing firm for what you believe in. It also means making sacrifices and difficult decisions, as well as directing the chapter in a way that makes it more coherent and cohesive.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is very important to Black greekdom because it is a major hub of social media. It continues to build on the brand of the Black greekdom world; increases its visibility thorough building relationships via networking; and communicate amongst other Greeks, the world, and ourselves. This social media venue keeps black greekdom relevant, it makes Greeks feel involved whether on an undergraduate or graduate level, and it allows others to participate in activities around the world.
What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?
It means having an unbreakable bond and showing unconditional love through support, encouragement and assisting each other in reaching their full potential in life. Brotherhood/Sisterhood also means having friends with the same morals and values and to be able to agree to disagree in love and not hate.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Brenda Gates for her work as the Basileus of the Alpha Alpha Alpha Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2013.