The Campus Center Ballroom was alive last Thursday as Sigma Gamma Rho sorority hosted its fourth neophyte presentation since being chartered on campus in 2016.
The first historically black sorority on the University’s campus welcomed three new women, all of whom are biology majors, into their Tau Nu Chapter.
Freshman Jazzlyn Johnson and sophomores Dallas Hurst and Alexis Epps performed in front of a large crowd, reciting their organization’s history as well as “strolling” choreographed dance routines with enthusiasm and pride.
“It feels really good,” Johnson said. “I feel accomplished, and I finally get to wear and represent my letters.”
All three women expressed their interest in helping Sigma Gamma Rho grow on campus for the future since most of their prophytes, including their dean, senior criminology major Gracyn Brown, and assistant dean, senior business administration major Tyresha Willis, are graduating.
“Like a seed in the ground, a flower is going to grow,” Epps said.
The neophytes also hope to change the way organizations like theirs are perceived.
“Since our organization and chapter is the first black organization to be chartered on campus, it makes a difference,” Hurst said.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what Divine Nines do, what historically black fraternities and sororities are, so we have the opportunity to change that perspective, letting people know greater service and greater progress is our main goal while being educated is the first thing we want to accomplish,” she said.
Brown voiced great pride in helping these women become new members of the organization in her first term as a dean.
“Aside from bringing in more members, I think that they really have a chance to make a statement,” Brown said. “Because they are so young, they have time to learn what this campus needs, especially in our current environment, and provide it.”
Many members of Sigma Gamma Rho were on hand to support their new sisters, including current students from other campus chapters on other campuses, as well as many adult members from their graduate chapters.
Other Divine Nine organizations also attended, including the brothers of Iota Phi Theta fraternity.
Based on this show support, all three women felt that it will not be long before a historically black fraternity will charter on campus.
Johnson’s father, Richard, president of the far west region for Iota Phi Theta, agreed.
“I think that other Divine Nine organizations can follow suit with them,” Richard Johnson said. “The sisters of Sigma Gamma Rho have done an excellent job, a yeoman’s job of embodying what the University of La Verne is all about and helping out with the new vision in terms of diversification on that campus.”
Richard Johnson offered advice to his daughter as the leader of the new line under Sigma Gamma Rho.
“Tell your story and write your narrative in a positive way so that you are able to teach others but at the same time get involved with other organizations on campus so that you can learn from them as well,” Richard Johnson said. “It’s a two-way street.”
The brothers of Iota Phi Theta also joined in with their own stroll routines to add to the festivities after the presentation.
Dominic Honoré can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.