Growing up in a predominately white town in a suburb of San Diego and attending private school had created identity holes and cultural gaps for me that I didn’t realize existed until I made it to college. I never was one to want to divide myself from others, or seek ways to separate myself from others, but the energy that permeated from Delta was something I had never experienced before.
What convinced me to join?
My journey to joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Omicron Chi Chapter (Stanford University) began here, after reading Paula Giddings’ book “In Search of Sisterhood” in the fall of 2006.
This book lays out the rich history of this tremendous organization, and my heart raced with excitement the more I learned about the wonderful impact this Sorority has had on American history, beginning with the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington, D.C. in 1913. I wanted to be a part of history like these righteous women. I wanted to think like them. I wanted to have a connection with them that was unshakeable, and I wanted to earn it immediately. I was convinced before I finished the book that this was something that I wanted more than anything I had ever wanted before in my life.
You already have a sister. So why were you in search of sisterhood?
This is probably the most complex question that I had to face when I aspired to join this sorority. There weren’t any doubts, but there were definitely some suspicions. I have one older sister, Cassandra, who is 5 years older than me. Growing up, Cassandra was my role model in a lot of ways, and watching her I was able to navigate my own life by looking at how she navigated hers. Due to our age gap, we never went to high school or college during the same time; when I was entering high school, she was entering college, when I was entering college, she was beginning her life as a young adult, and as a result I wasn’t able to connect with my sister on a social level until after we had both entered adulthood.
When I went to college in 2004, it was important to me to connect to a community of women who were my age, and women who could specifically understand the unique plight of navigating life on a campus like Stanford as a minority woman.
I was looking for something outside of basketball. By the time I was a junior at Stanford, I was already a two time All-American and Pac 10 Player of the Year. But those titles alone wouldn’t suffice.
I loved being a member of the basketball team, and I loved the sisterhood that came from competing in team sports. But by the time I was in my third year I realized that something was missing in terms of my identity outside of basketball. I was craving something deeper; a connection to women that wasn’t strictly tied to athletics.
Enter Omicron Chi.
“Oh So Fly” Omicron Chi Chapter, Stanford University
Like all sisterhoods, the people make it extraordinary.
Before I crossed, I remember having classes with some of the women who were Deltas. I remember admiring how they thought. I recall walking through campus on my way to basketball practice and watching them promote the impactful programs that they would put on for the community at large. They were always spectacular.
I most remember the excitement that I felt attending my first step show towards the end of my freshman year in the spring 2005. The Deltas were stepping at the annual event called Blackfest, and this particular year there was apparent public tension between the Deltas and the AKAs. They performed before one another, and both took clear shots at the other organization. With excitement I watched every move, and listened to the words that corresponded with the intricate steps. The AKAs were wonderful, and no one can resist the charming combination of pink and green, but Delta won that day. They had the benefit of being after the AKAs, but that didn’t even matter. They made their point about what they stood for: scholarship, service, and sisterhood.
It was that day that I decided I wanted to be on that same stage as those particular women. The way they carried themselves was friendly, classy and elegant, but at the same time strong and self-assured—not at all what anyone expected. I carried all of these thoughts silently in my head as I pursued my collegiate basketball career, and would constantly revisit them from time to time. I knew there would come a time when I would have to commit, and I was preparing myself for it.
Check out one of the only step shows I was able to perform, back in 2007. To this day, this remains one of the coolest and thrilling moments of my entire life:
As I observed the Stanford Deltas in all their glory, I felt a stirring sensation build inside of me, and felt more connected to my inherent purposes, which made me feel very happy and quite peaceful. Even though I wasn’t a part of the chapter, I already felt like I belonged to this particular group of women. I had never seen so many women with such diverse backgrounds working together for a common cause that shaped their lives in the most positive way. They were leaving an impact on the community, but you could tell that the greatest reward for them was the service, and how giving back made them feel about themselves and the sorority to which they pledge their time and loyalty.
It never felt exclusive in a bad way; it felt like a celebration of a sisterhood group that prides itself on an exquisite history of earning a reputation as hard working, bright and devoted to the right causes.
Another factor that largely contributed to my decision to pledge Delta had to do with the fact that many basketball players had done it in the past. I grew up absolutely idolizing the Stanford women’s basketball program in the 90s, and when I learned that several legendary players in the past had also pledged, it almost became a right of passage for me. It was something that had been done before, and that challenge was excitingly fresh for me, because I could fully understand what led these women to choose to pursue membership with Delta. That suddenly connected me to a greater purpose that went above and beyond my commitments to the Stanford women’s basketball program.
What did pledging Omicron Chi teach me?
What is the greatest lesson Delta Sigma Theta has taught me?
Point blank. This is the greatest trait that I have gained from the pledging process to becoming a member of Delta. Deference is a social skill that has to be practiced cooperatively, and that is probably what makes it so unique.
Deference is simply defined as:
1. Respect 2. Submission “in deference to” out of respect or courtesy to somebody or something
Although deference is pointedly marked with my relationship and personal experience with Delta, I believe it is something that actually connects the entire world, no matter what race or background one comes from. We can all actively participate in practicing deference with the people around us, no matter if you come from a sorority or fraternity or not.
Here’s how it looks in practice: If you are in a room with people and someone older comes in, you should always show deference for that person. Awareness comes first; action comes second. You could stand up and introduce yourself; you could offer your seat. The key is to be relaxed, but to maintain a high level of respect for the elder in the room. It is important for the elder to extend the same courtesy to you, but understand that there is an imbalance in the relationship that is inherently in the favor of the senior person. This is the reason why you want to showcase deference in the first place, so that you may confirm this reality. In Delta, this is common practice.
It helps you to establish high esteem when you are able to humble yourself and show grace towards people simply because it is the distinguished thing to do.
“Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Since its founding more than 200,000 women have joined the organization. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women. The sorority currently has 1,000 collegiate and alumnae chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea.
Delta Sigma Theta was founded on January 13, 1913 by 22 collegiate women at Howard University. These students wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to those in need. In March of 1913, the Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. performed their first public act. They participated in the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, D.C. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was incorporated in 1930.
For more information about Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, visit http://www.deltasigmatheta.org
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach