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 Chi Eta Zeta Chapter in Cambridge, MA and did an interview with Marquita Burrowes the President of the chapter.
The position of President/president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Marquita Burrowes, who works as an Intensive Care Coordinator for Children’s Services of Roxbury (Boston, MA), has been in the position of President for one year.
We interviewed Burrowes, who is a Spring 2007, Rho Pi Zeta Chapter, Dartmouth, Mass 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 was motivated to take on the role of president of my graduate chapter by the dynamic leadership that has come before me. I am now the 7th president of the chapter in its 15th year, and I have been inspired by the previous 6 that have poured love, sisterhood, and dedication into the chapter. I am also a charter member of Chi Eta Zeta Chapter, so I have seen where it all started. Watching the chapter grow and seeing the dedication and commitment put in by so many, continues to encourage me to find purpose in this role and give it my all.
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?
During this sororal year, Chi Eta Zeta chapter will be awarding our Dr. Deborah Cannon P. Wolfe biennial scholarship to a deserving high school senior. Scholarship is Zeta Phi Beta’s FIRST principle, so we are always proud to stand on the shoulders of our Five Founders to bring a deserving young lady closer to the light of education. Chi Eta Zeta chapter is also looking forward to hosting our 3rd Annual Finer Symposium; a day of mental and physical wellness in the greater Cambridge community. This event has already had an amazing impact with workshops, vendors, and keynote speakers that teach our attendees how to make space for personal and community well-being across generations. Our goal as an organization and a chapter is always to follow in the footsteps of our Five Pearls and bring Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood to the greater Cambridge community.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
In my junior year of high school, I started to really buckle down and focus on my plans for college and my future. I started to distance myself from friends I grew up with that were taking another path at that time, and felt bad for doing so. My loyalty to my friends almost pulled me in a different direction. It was at that time that I met a group of very inspirational college women who intrigued me, poured into me and showed me that there was nothing wrong with holding myself to a Finer standard and wanting to take a positive path. These college women were a group of Zetas that I will forever be grateful for meeting. They showed me that Scholarship would be my gateway, Service would be my passion, Sisterhood would be my drive, and Finer Womanhood would be my standard.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Chi Eta Zeta Chapter is unique because we have women from many different careers paths and many different walks of life. Being in the Greater Cambridge and Boston area, education and scholarship are an especially big part of our community. We have the opportunity to strengthen the bond of our community through education with access to arguably some of the best colleges and universities in the world. We also have quite a few Sorors in Boston’s world renowned healthcare industry that are making strides for cultural change every day. When it comes right down to it, our chapter is full of dynamic and well-rounded women that are always ready to roll up our sleeves to make the change we want to see.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
We provide for our undergraduates by being a support to them both in and out of The Sisterhood. We strive to make genuine connections so that we can support them as members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., but also as sisters. We make it a point to advise, but still allow them the chance to make the decisions they need to make on their own. We also try to make career and network connections for our Undergrads as they transition out of the collegiate world and into the workplace.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
Our chapter has an internal mentoring program that we have found to be very successful. Chi Eta Zeta chapter has more than tripled in size in the last 3 years, so we had to come up with a way to make all Sorors, old or new, from the south or the north, feel comfortable and welcomed. Our mentors and mentees go over everything from meeting etiquette to where to buy the best paraphernalia. We also host sisterhood bonding activities throughout the year to get to know and learn from each other.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
To aspiring leaders within Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., I say this: Never be afraid to follow in order to lead. People think once they are in leadership roles, the weight of the chapter falls on them and they have to “figure it out” or do it alone. That is very much not the case. It is ok to ask for help and support. This is a SISTERHOOD. Help is there when you need it. I also encourage future Zeta leaders to take advantage of ZOL: Zeta Organizational Leadership. ZOL is a future-focused, nationally structured intensified leadership training program that serves as the blueprint for the Sorority’s leadership development and enhancement efforts. It was designed to ensure a future talent pool of leadership for Zeta on the national level of our Sorority by delivering consistent, high quality training.
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 would definitely not be where I am today if it weren’t for mentorship; in life or in Zeta. Soror Shatara Grimsley, Zeta Phi Beta’s 3rd Massachusetts State Director, was a huge mentor for me. Soror Grimsley taught me the business of Zeta and how to lead within our organization. Soror Salesia Hughes-Hibbert, Chi Eta Zeta chapter’s current Parliamentarian, stepped up at a time the chapter needed her. She took the lead and guided and mentored me at that time. These sorors, plus a host of others, mentored me in a way that led me exactly to where I am now and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black greekdom because it sits at the intersection of preserving our history, and curating a new future. Watch the Yard is a place where Black greekdom can hold onto its roots, while helping our culture stay relevant and move forward into the 21st Century.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I love being a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated because Zetas are a different breed. We all saw something in the standard that our Five Pearls set and we stayed the course. We are not women that move with the crowd; we are women that MOVE the crowd. We revel in being set apart.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood means to me, always having someone there to hold me accountable, support me, and allow me to support them. Sisterhood is empowering, loving, kind. Sisterhood means honoring myself and all others that carry the torch of womanhood.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Marquita Burrowes for her work as the President of the Chi Eta Zeta Chapter.
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