On a night steeped with over 100 years of tradition and culture, history was made when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. presented a new chapter at Governors State University, which had never hosted Black fraternities and sororities in its 54-year existence.
Before a standing-room-only crowd in the Center for Performing Arts on Nov. 20, 13 new members of AKA were welcomed to the Upsilon Rho chapter.
AKA was the first sorority founded by African American women and now the first Black Greek-lettered organization on campus at GSU.
Celebrations started the day before with a private ceremony and brunch attended by 250 members of AKA, as well as family and friends.
At the formal charter presentation, GSU’s Acting President, Corey Bradford, greeted the crowd proudly wearing the colors and letters of his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. After leading all in attendance with the GSU call and response, he welcomed the new members of AKA to campus.
“I’m sure these 13 ladies are going to set the campus on fire!” he said, noting that he’s been married to an AKA for the last 30 years. AKA is a founding member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council – affectionately known as the Divine Nine – which represents nine historic African American sororities and fraternities.
Bradford praised AKA for being the first of the Divine Nine at GSU.
“We are just beginning,” he said. “For all the other Greeks out there, we want the entire Divine Nine on this campus.”
In a room filled with colorful Greek letters as far as the eye could see, the energetic crowd, family, and friends, gladly welcomed this historic moment.
Konya Sledge, director of student engagement and intercultural programs, said the night was exactly what GSU President Cheryl Green, also a member of AKA, envisioned when she became president in 2020.
“Dr. Green’s decision to bring Greek-lettered organizations to campus was born of a desire to attract more students with exciting new programs and initiatives devoted to fostering academic excellence and student engagement,’’ Sledge said.
Michelle R. Clark is President of AKA’s Lambda Tau Omega chapter, the graduate chapter that advises the new Upsilon Rho chapter.
Clark praised Green and GSU for welcoming Black Greek-lettered organizations where they had been a void.
“Governors State is doing a terrific job to help cultivate a rich student life environment. We appreciate Dr. Green for working with all the Divine Nine, and excited to provide mentorship to our new sisters on and off campus. This is a life-long commitment.”
The night included recorded statements from both Rep. Will Davis, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, Sorority, Inc. They commended AKA on its charter chapter and congratulated GovState on its first Divine Nine organization.
Members of the new chapter include:
- Nichaela Blackhawk Jenkins, sophomore majoring in Political Science
- Latonya Bryant, freshman majoring in General Studies.
- Joy Cromwell, freshman majoring in General Studies.
- Taylor Fason, senior majoring in Health Administration.
- Kaylah Griffin, sophomore majoring in General Studies.
- Tia Gunby, senior majoring in English.
- Alexis Hamilton, junior majoring in Social Work.
- Arvilia Jackson, junior majoring in Community Health.
- Imani Jackson, sophomore majoring in History.
- Serena Johnson, sophomore majoring in General Studies.
- Naomi Lewis, freshman majoring in General Studies.
- Janice Taylor-Jackson, senior majoring in Social Work.
- Nicole Thompson, sophomore majoring in Art.