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Thankful for my BGLO


This past Sunday, I celebrated my 5 year AKAversary. For those that aren’t Greek, that means that I have been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha for 5 years. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was founded on January 15th, 1908 at Howard University in Washington D.C..  Given that African American people were not allowed to join predominantly white sororities and fraternities at that time, Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO) were established and Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first sorority for women of color. Today, there are 9 historically black sororities and fraternities (referred to as the Divine 9 or D9 for short) and I am a proud member of the FIRST and FINEST sorority for African American women. As I think about all of the things I am thankful for in the spirit of Thanksgiving and celebrate 5 years in my sorority, I am so thankful for my BGLO.

Growing up, I attended a pretty mixed, but still predominantly white private school. Although I come from what I consider to be a pretty traditional African American family, I often felt that I was missing out on parts of my culture. As I got older and started looking forward to college, I strongly considered attending a historically black college or university (HBCU). In the end, I decided against it for personal reasons (mainly because I think that diversity is extremely important and opted to go to a diverse school instead of one that was majority African American – but that’s another blog post of another day), but, I knew that I wanted to embrace my culture and join a BGLO. All I knew about historically black fraternities and sororities growing up was what family friends taught me. They would give me Greek lettered apparel and tell me that I should join in college (which, for the record, as a member of a sorority, I now realize that it is TOTALLY inappropriate to give teenagers Greek paraphernalia and I have no idea what they were thinking). When I got to the University of Miami in the fall of 2008, I was given the opportunity to see all the D9 organizations in action and make an educated decision as to which sorority I would attempt to join. For me, it became clear early on that Alpha Kappa Alpha was the only way.

Alpha Kappa Alpha

Photos captured by Tyler McCelland 

I wanted to join a D9 organization because I longed to be a part of something that was bigger than me. Notable D9 members include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Alpha Phi Alpha), Coretta Scott King (Alpha Kappa Alpha), Reverend Jesse Jackson (Omega Psi Phi), Dr. Maya Angelou (Alpha Kappa Alpha), Zora Neale Hurston (Zeta Phi Beta), Michel Jordan (Omega Psi Phi), Rosa Parks (Alpha Kappa Alpha), Bill Cosby (Omega Psi Phi), Toni Morrison (Alpha Kappa Alpha), and so many others. I wanted to be a member of this elite group of educated black people. I chose to become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated not only because of its rich history as the first sorority for African American women, but also because of the way the women of the Iota Nu chapter at the University of Miami carried themselves. They were the most involved women on campus and carried themselves with class, style, and poise at all times. I looked up to them and viewed them as the perfect examples of how college women should carry themselves.

5 years IN, I am proud to say that my BGLO changed me for the better. The day that I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was one of the best days of my life and it impacted not only my college experience, but the course of my life in a way that is often hard to explain to people who aren’t Greek themselves. I am so thankful for my BGLO, and here is how joining changed me for the better:

  1. New sisters – Becoming a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha changed my perception of friendship. Through joining, I didn’t just make friends, but I gained 17 sisters. The sisters that I gained are people that I know will be in my life forever. Greek women often say, “every friend isn’t your Soror and every Soror isn’t your friend” and while all my friends aren’t AKAs and I’m not friends with every single AKA that I’ve met, I know that through joining, I have a network of women that I can always count on.

  2. New experiences – After I became an AKA, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I learned the importance of networking and building relationships. I traveled and road tripped to other colleges. I participated in step and stroll competitions. I did more community service than I honestly would have done otherwise. I chaired events and gained leadership skills. I experienced so many things that I would not have experienced otherwise.

  3. Newfound confidence – I have always been comfortable in my own skin, but becoming an AKA gave me a confidence that I had never known. I became confident in my abilities and leadership skills and knew that I could handle much more than I ever thought possible.

  4. New sense of responsibility – Being a member of an elite group of women gave me a sense of responsibility. Knowing that other people, especially other young ladies that may have been interested in joining Alpha Kappa Alpha themselves, were watching inspired me to strive to be the best version of myself I could be and carry myself in a certain way. After all, I was not just representing myself anymore, but instead representing my sorority as a whole.

  5. New legacy to pass on – I often joke that my future daughter doesn’t have to be Greek, but if she is, she has to be an AKA. I share something with not only every member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, but also every person who is in a D9 organization. Through my BGLO, I became a part of a legacy that I look forward to passing on.

Did you join a sorority of fraternity in college? If so, how did it change you for the better? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

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