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Leadership Highlight: Janae Coachman the President of Zeta Phi Beta at Johnson & Wales University

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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 sorors of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Delta Phi Chapter at Johnson & Wales University and did an interview with Janae Coachman 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. 20-year-old Coachman 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 Culinary Arts & Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship major and talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership on campus in the digital age.

Read the full interview below.

What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?

Having the honor to be the chapter president of Delta Phi truly means a lot to me. Delta Phi was charted November 29, 2016. Since we are a newly charted chapter I feel so privileged to be the chapter president. With that being said I’m able to help shape the chapter and bring in uniqueness now that will go on and continue to grow several years down the road.

Photo Credit: Verdetta Turner @mzdetta

What made you decide to attend the Johnson & Wales University for undergrad?

Picking a college was pretty hard for me. I’ve always known I wanted to move to another state and I’ve always had a passion for cooking food. The problem was finding a good fit for me. I was accepted in to quite a few different universities, but I wasn’t interested because none of them offered culinary arts. For the longest I was battling if I was going to have to choose another major or not. Landing at Johnson and Wales was truly a blessing. I talked to a few of my high school counselors about culinary schools and I had a few different options. Finding a school that was of my standards and comfortable enough for my parents to let me move away at the age of 17 was a huge stressor. About a week later, after I had spoken to my counselor, Johnson and Wales sent me an application in the mail. I felt it was a sign from God, so I filled the application out and did research on the school. I ended up receiving a large scholarship award from the school and I met with the Michigan representative. I’ve loved the school ever since! Being that this school had 4 campuses it was pretty easy for me and my mother to agree to Charlotte campus. After all my best friend went to school at A&T which is only an hour away from me.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?

This year our chapter’s main initiative is mental health. There are so many people who go suffer in silence on a day to day basis. I think that it is important that we create a safe environment where students are comfortable enough to be open and seek help when it is needed. Nine time out of ten there is someone you know that is taking antidepressants. Everyone needs someone to lean on. Identifying triggers or signs that a friend or a loved one is going through something is a start. Our first program that is being held this year is called “Be Aware Mental Health 101”. This program is to inform students about available resources on campus and tips to help someone who may be showing signs of poor mental health. This is going to improve our community by losing less students, helping, and giving more hope. Letting someone know you care sometimes is all they need. Depression is an ongoing battle and we’d like to make a change.

Photo Credit: Emoni Franklin @inome___

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

I wanted to pledge Zeta because I felt it fit me best. Besides, the way my mother raised me goes hand and hand with our sorority principles. When I first went to meet the greeks they were so organized and friendly. I’ve always been a loving and kind person and why not join something that resonates well with yourself? I also did community service projects with these ladies and giving back has always been something that I’ve felt great about doing. Something that stood out to me is they did community service quite often. I’ve been going to church in North Carolina since my freshman year. Before I crossed I ran into the Zetas in church together a few times. That melted my heart because having a relationship with God has always meant the world to me. Seeing those ladies there at the same time made me feel like I would fit right in with them. A couple of those ladies changed my life forever. One of our charter members, Shavashia Grant was also a member in a choir i’m in on campus. Interacting with her gave me a sound mind and helped secure my decision of joining this great organization.

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?

Our chapter is very unique because it was charted at a very small PWI. We were the second NPHC organization to charter at this campus. With that being said, a lot of students on campus have never been exposed to greek life. Our chapter is great at programming and keeping students involved on campus. Also, we partner up local non- profit organizations such as Florence Crittenton home. Which is an organization that helps young mothers in need.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?

Undergraduate chapters should use social media to shine the light on all great things that they are doing within their chapters. I think that all achievements that members are achieving outside of their sorority/fraternity should be shared. A lot of greeks are doing great things in the world and we should let the world know! I also think it’s important that we comment on real world issues when problems arise. Having an opinion means everything, and showing that we care could make a change.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me leadership means accountability, being inspiring and standing firm. A true leader will not only hold themselves accountable but will also hold their team accountable as well. A well oiled machine works better when everyone is on one accord with each other and striving for a common goal. Also a leader must be aspiring, no effect leader has been known for being plain mediocre. All of the leaders that I currently look up to and admire stand out and inspire me to be a better me and to keep striving for greatness in life. Lastly, a leader stands firms on their own personal beliefs and the tough decisions that they make to enhance their team.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?

Even though we are in the 21st century, there are a lot of young adults that have not been exposed to greek life or HBCU’s. I think that Watch The Yard shines a positive light on organizations and young black people who are doing great things.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood means that you will always have a helping hand. A sister is someone who is kept near and dear even when you aren’t on the best of terms. I love my sisters because they always have my back without a doubt. It’s a good thing to have someone you can count on through thick and thin. I came to charlotte by myself with no family. My sisters stepped in and I can truly say I have a great support system.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation I plan to work in food and beverage hospitality. Being that I am a senior I am lining up all opportunities that may benefit me career wise in the long run. I’m interested in traveling and working my way up in the industry. I would like to go back to school at some point to become a registered dietitian. I love to cook, and I also love to be a help to others. Becoming a registered dietitian gives me a chance to do both.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Janae Coachman for her work as the president of Delta Phi Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2016.

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