In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the world, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorors of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Alpha Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter in London, England and did an interview with Dr. Romanda Dillon 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. Dr. Dillon, who is a Human Resource Administrator, has served in the position of Basileus for three years.
We interviewed Dr. Dillon, who is a Spring 2007 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?
Alpha Alpha Eta Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has only been around since March 12, 2014. Being president of this chapter is such an honor. We are the first and only chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. located in England and currently the only sorority located here. It has been a great opportunity to continue to blaze the path of Zeta across the world. I realize that not everyone gets to be a part of something so historic. Therefore, I am forever grateful that it is something I could take part in.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
As well as following the national initiatives of the Sorority, AAHZ is focusing on interacting more with the British community and organizations. We have planned fundraisers to raise money towards British Veterans, feeding the underprivileged of the local community and more. Also, with this year being our Centennial Sorority year we are celebrating this momentous occasion by focusing on our principle of Sisterhood. Our chapter members live all over the UK so we have made it even more of a point to plan bonding events and celebrations with each other throughout the year.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
When I started university, I did not know much about sororities and greek life. As my siblings and I were the first in our family to go to University, it wasn’t something that was mentioned in my household. However, when I got on campus, I noticed all the groups but the one who always stood for me were the Zetas. These were the ladies in my classes and clubs that I was naturally drawn to. They were always so welcoming, even before I knew they were Zetas and before they knew I was interested. As I started to research sororities, I felt like Zeta encompassed much of what I believed in.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Being the only female sorority located in England is what makes our chapter so unique. The fact that we have been able to support the local community, who for the most part do not understand Greek life has been an interesting process for us. When we were charter in 2014, we quickly saw that we would not only be introducing Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. to the local community, no we had to introduce the whole Greek system. We had to explain it is more than the Legally Blonde or the Animal House movies you see. We also had to explain it does not stop after college. That this is a lifetime commitment to the principles of our organization. We realize that this is something that we will always have to do as a chapter. When we introduce ourselves to different organizations over here, we are not just representing Zeta we are representing all Black Greek Life. It is something that we as a chapter take seriously.
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?
I think the digital world is a great tool to help bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate chapters. Through social media, we are showing that Greek life doesn’t stop once you graduate. In graduate chapters, we do it all from community services to throwing events and having social media to help us spread awareness to our chapters have been wonderful.
I think in today’s world it is important for graduate chapters to be tech-savvy. Technology is always changing and so are the platforms that people use to communicate. We must stay on top of what is considered the big platforms for sharing content and make sure we also have a place on there. It is also important for graduate chapters to have an updated site. It is a big turn -off to click on a broken link or a site that hasn’t been updated in a year or so. It always makes me wonder is that chapter still functioning if that happens.
What does leadership mean to you?
I think leadership is about supporting and enabling the members of the chapter to be the best they can be within not only the organization but also in all aspects of their life. Being the president of this chapter has taught me a lot about myself as a person and what type of leader I would like to be. I want to be the type of leader that the members of the chapter know they can always come to and ask questions. I try to always make myself available to the members of AAHZ be it for something Zeta wise or personal wise. I want them to know I am here for them. It has defiantly taught me that you cannot be selfish or petty when you are in a leadership position. When making decisions I try to remove my own emotions from the equation and think about the bigger picture. Also, leadership means knowing you will not always be right. However, you can learn and grow from any situation.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I think Watch The Yard has been important in showing that Black Greekdom is more than just stereotypes. On campus Black Greeks are thought of in terms of partying and strolling. However, Watch the Yard has helped to show that is not the whole picture. Black Greeks are often the leaders of their communities. We are putting in the work in terms of the service and helping to lead the world in change.
For graduate chapters Watch the Yard has been great in showing that it doesn’t stop at college. Sometimes people may think of graduate members as old and out-dated. However, Watch the Yard is helping us to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate greeks.
What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is very important to me. As an American, a black American living in the United Kingdom sometimes it can be a bit lonely. While I love my British friends there are some things they just do not understand. I have been over here for seven years now and there can be a bit of homesickness being so far away from home. However, when I am with my Sisters everything is okay. They understand what it is like being far from home and living in a different country. They understand how it feels when we watch the news to see what is going on in America and being concerned for our friends and family. From the moment I stepped in the UK and reached out to other members of the Sorority, it immediately made me feel a little less lonely. It is great to think that no matter where you are at in the world you have people that will be there for you and you can lean on during the tough the times.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
While there are no undergraduate chapters in the United Kingdom, we do our best to support not only undergraduate greeks but students in general. For our undergraduate greeks we make sure to know if any undergraduate members of the Sorority are coming to the UK. We will always be there to help welcome our Sisters or give them any tips we can. We had the pleasure of having one of our Sisters from the Bahamas spend a year in the UK a couple of years ago as she completed school. It was great that we were able to be there for her while she completed school in the UK. As a chapter, we also make sure to give to the National Education Foundation Scholarship that we have as a sorority. For general undergraduates, we have been able to give scholarships to high school seniors as they start their collegiate journey.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Dr. Romanda Dillon for her work as the Basileus of the Alpha Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2014.