In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Psi Zeta Chapter in Fort Worth, TX and did an interview with Brittany N. Course 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. Brittany Course, who works as a Data Engineering Manager at Charles Schwab, has been in the position of Basileus for a couple of months so far.
We interviewed Course, who is a Spring 2008 Alpha Eta Zeta (Memphis, TN) Chapter initiate of Zeta Phi Beta 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 motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
I am most motivated by the sisterly support of my fellow chapter members. In my first few years in the chapter, the leadership at the time believed my experience would be a benefit to the chapter. I am encouraged to continue to learn and share that experience to enrich the members of Psi Zeta. Together, we can then enrich the community of Fort Worth, Texas.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
Psi Zeta’s mission is to foster collaborative partnerships, advocate for social change, and promote academic excellence that positively impacts the Greater Fort Worth area. In the social and political climate that Black Americans continue to face daily, we cannot be silent and inactive. It is our responsibility to answer the call for change.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
The receptiveness and inclusivity of the members are the attributes that attracted me to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. As I started attending events and getting to know the members in the chapter, I felt like I belonged and had similar goals and aspirations. The founding principles aligned with my morals and values.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Psi Zeta is a multigenerational chapter of mostly Texas transplants. Many members of the chapter are not from Fort Worth, or even Texas. We often tease that we have more people associated with Mississippi than Texas. We have an array of occupations and backgrounds. However, the chapter culture is one of genuine friendliness, and we love to have a good time. We work hard AND play hard. I believe this diversity in background and generations is what makes us unique. It is easy to “find your people” as we say.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Psi Zeta currently sponsors the Sigma Omicron chapter at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. Our 3rd Vice-President and Undergraduate Advisors are committed to building relationships with our undergraduate Sorors. They have established embellishment programming and training to make sure they are developing into well-balanced young women, who value their responsibilities to school and Zeta.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
I recognize that Zeta is just a portion of most of the members’ lives. Everyone has a full and busy plate. Time is our greatest commodity – be respectful of it. Start the meeting on time and move the business efficiently. I was intentional on building relationships with chapter members. Many people join a sorority for the sense of sisterhood. Reach out to people and check on them. You never know how your kind words could brighten someone’s day. At the Chapter Retreat this year, the members passed around notebooks, where each person wrote an note of encouragement for that particular Soror. When you’re having a rough day, open your notebook to be reminded of your support system.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
Read your bylaws to see what qualifications are required for each role. Plan to obtain those prerequisites over time. Shadow the person who currently holds that role in your chapter. Oftentimes, joining the associated committee is the best way to learn what it takes to be successful in that leadership role.
How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?
I became a member of the organization at 18. I was learning how to be an adult woman and a Finer woman at the same time. I was molded for leadership from the time I became a member. I am so grateful to the members of my graduate chapter who took the time to teach me. These women were another set of grandmothers, aunts, and sisters when I was so far away from my bloodline. There are so many names that I could list, but I want to specifically recognize Audrey Johnson. She was my Undergraduate Advisor, who took me under her wing and cared for me like her child. Even to this day, she still gives me advice and acts as a sounding board.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard helps keep Greek life relevant. Black Greeks are having a hard time keeping their place on the campuses of colleges and universities. Oftentimes, we are seen more as a liability than an asset. When we can show the world that we are not just social clubs, then the impact is increased, and the importance of longevity is recognized. We also want the world to know the effect on the community doesn’t stop at graduation.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is a connection between women that fosters a sense of belonging, community, common values, and collaboration on a unified goal.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Brittany Course for her work as the Basileus of the Psi Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1937.
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