AKA’s Upsilon Iota Chapter Fosters Community Leaders

On December 8, 2018, at 6:08 p.m., the Upsilon Iota chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. (AKA) was chartered on the BSU campus as its first Black Greek organization.  Since then, it has been a space to empower Black female students at BSU and become stand-out members of their communities. The Comment interviewed line sisters Alexia Sutherland (‘24, she/her) and Maliyah Stewart (‘24, she/her) to talk about their experiences as members of the iconic sorority.

“I grew up seeing women in Alpha Kappa Alpha, in my community, my church community, and elsewhere,” Sutherland told The Comment. “There was always something about them that stood out to me and that I sought to emulate. It was the way they carried themselves and cared about service…joining the sorority has been a dream come true.”

Unlike Sutherland, Stewart did not know anyone in her community who was a member of AKA. When she came to BSU, she was attracted to the sorority’s uniqueness and saw it as an opportunity to grow. “I knew that I wanted to put my best effort forward and show what I could offer to the sorority,” she said.

Sutherland and Stewart were initiated into AKA back in November 2023. They have participated in and led multiple service projects and campus events, such as the “Let’s Talk” events where they hold discussion groups about various relatable topics for students to freely express themselves. In January, for the sorority’s Founder’s Day, AKA partnered with the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice for their school on wheels initiative. Here, they packaged backpacks filled with goodies and school supplies for children and students suffering from homelessness. 

“It was a great experience; we packaged over 100 backpacks,” Stewart reflected. “Every backpack I made, I added a little personality to it for the children, hoping they would like it.”

During the week of March 24, known as “Skee Week,” (a reference to AKA’s trademark call), AKA hosted several events promoting sisterhood and community relations, including a “Meet the Divine Nine” event where multiple black Greek organizations came to campus to speak to students.

“We try to do the best that we can to make sure we are active and attentive to our community,” Sutherland said about the organization. 

Since last fall’s initiation, Sutherland and Stewart are becoming the leaders they never would have expected to be.

Stewart noted, “I have grown in my self-perception and my identity. I feel like being in my organization has given me a sense of responsibility that I didn’t have before because I know I’m working hard. I love being able to spend so much time with other Black women who I admire and mentor me.”

“It gave me a sense of confidence, feeling like I’m able to do anything I want to do,” Stewart added. “It’s shown that my actions have a real impact on the community whether it’s here at BSU or around the South Shore.”

Those interested in the sorority may contact the chapter’s graduate advisor, Yleis Engerman, via email at yleisengerman@gmail.com

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