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 Sigma Psi Zeta in Fort Washington, Maryland and did an interview with Sharae Half Sharp 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. Sharae Half Sharp, who works as a Clinical Social Worker, has been in the position of Basileus since July 1, 2023.
We interviewed Sharae Half Sharp, who is a Spring 1998 Omicron Gamma 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?
It was time. Due to other obligations, I had avoided becoming chapter president for several elections. But now, I was in a place where I was ready to take the helm of my chapter and join the group of special women who had led the chapter before me. With 25 years of membership, I had the experience and knowledge and was ready to share and create and become the change I wanted to see. I wanted to see my chapter, Sigma Psi Zeta, R.I.S.E. (Reconnect, Increase, Support, and Empower).
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?
Sigma Psi Zeta Chapter will support the current International Grand Basileus’ programmatic focus of “The Extraordinary Power of S.H.E.”. This is an opportunity for Zetas worldwide to be intentional about Social, Health and Economic justice for women at home and abroad. Two of the local initiatives include: a. The Adopt a School Program. This program focuses on support for students and schools including, but not limited to mentoring, tutoring, internship opportunities, and financial and in-kind donations. Sigma Psi Zeta chapter will be supporting a school in our service area (Ft. Washington/Southern Prince George’s County). b. March of Dimes/March for Babies. Sigma Psi Zeta chapter will continue to support the March of Dimes to help fund the research, programs, support, and advocacy needed to turn the maternal and infant health crisis around and improve mom and baby health. Every year, we host a Skate4Babies event at a local roller-skating rink to raise funds for the March of Dimes.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
I am the first person in my immediate family to go to college. I grew up with no prior knowledge of sororities (or fraternities), except for what I saw on television. When I arrived at Bowie State, there was only one sorority on campus. As I matriculated through school and started my research into sororities, I looked at each one to determine where I would best fit. I traveled to other colleges and universities in the area and observed how members of the other organization interacted with each other and those around them. After evaluating each organization, Zeta is where I felt most comfortable. I could be myself; I saw myself in other members of the organization, and the programmatic thrusts aligned with the overall vision of my planned future. I was in college just as the internet was becoming mainstream, so I didn’t have the use of social media, but I knew that Zeta was a community conscious, action-oriented organization and that appealed to me. After conversations with my mother, I knew that Zeta Phi Beta was my choice.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Sigma Psi Zeta Chapter is the second oldest chapter in the county. We have a unique group of sorors from across the nation that come together to serve a common goal. The members of this chapter are committed to our community. Although we’re small in numbers, we make a large impact to the Ft. Washington/Southern P.G. County area. Sigma Psi Zeta is fortunate to have a delegation of Life Members, which gives us an increased voting strength for a chapter our size.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
My chapter does not sponsor an undergraduate chapter but as a mom of an undergraduate soror, I support her and her chapter’s activities. I support her and encourage them to attend sorority events on the International, Regional, and State level. Fully understanding the financial strain on undergraduates, I make sure that she is registered for conferences because “A Good Zeta is a Well-Informed Zeta”.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
I approach fostering unity and camaraderie by communicating, having clear goals and giving expectations, always showing respect and appreciation, and making sure we build in some time to incorporate a Finer Fellowship, so sorors can also build the bonds of sisterhood in a less formal/official setting.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
To make sure you’re ready. It can be lonely at the top, but it can also be rewarding. At the end of the day, it starts and ends with the leader. The first advice I give to new members or members aspiring to leadership is to make sure you can financially afford the position. We spend a lot of our own money, so finances are important. I also encourage aspiring leaders to be humble. It’s not about you, but the organization/chapter and how you can make it better. Communicate. Make sure you’re giving the best version of yourself. Be clear. Be open. Provide and be able to accept constructive feedback. Plan and plan some more. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have fun.
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 have been blessed to have great mentors in my Zeta life. They have offered knowledge and wisdom, a listening ear, and redirection when I was getting off course. My Zeta mentors have educated me on leadership positions around the sorority and have exposed me to those positions. They make sure I am constantly learning and applying what I’ve learned. Past International Grand Basileus, Dr. Barbara West Carpenter has served a great mentor. She is always willing to drop nuggets of wisdom. She is direct and firm, but she’s fair. She leads with love and southern charm.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black Greekdom because it serves as a resource for current events relevant to the Black Greek community and those watching the Black Greek Community. Watch The Yard consistently shares the accomplishments of the Divine 9 organizations and its membership across the nation. Watch The Yard highlights the individual organizations and hold the flame to each of our respective organizations’ mission and purpose. Finally, for me, Watch The Yard is a digital historian for Black greekdom.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I love being a part of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated! I definitely made the right choice for me. I love that I have built bonds of sisterly love, support, and friendship that will last forever. I love that I get to share Zeta with my daughter and with my mother, who is a member of our adult auxiliary, Zeta Amicae. I love that I can absolutely be myself. I love that I can go coast to coast, anywhere in the world and run into my Zeta Sorors. I love that Zeta is growing our corporate partnerships exponentially and is now partnered with Google. I’m a Grow with Google Trainer and we provide Black women with career development and digital skills training. I could easily go on and on describing why I love being a member of Zeta Phi Beta.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is a strong feeling of friendship and support among women who are involved together in action. It’s a relationship. Sisterhood is an intentional act. Sisterhood embodies being Sisterly. As women, we can often lose the sisterly part of the Sisterhood. To me, Sisterhood means being patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Sisterhood is Love.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Sharae Half Sharp for her work as the Basileus of the Sigma Psi Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to .
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