Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. The words ring in my ear like it was yesterday. Before I went to college, I didn’t know anything about Greek Life. My mom went to college but mostly focused on home and career. My dad went to the Army but had no time for the college GI bill.
I didn’t have any immediate family members in the area who went to college so it was something that sat in the back of my mind along with a faint memory of a movie called, Animal House.
When I got to SUNY New Paltz, Greek Life was like an early version of the Universoul Circus. I’d never seen so much Blue, White, Pink, Green, Black, Gold and Red in my life. There were lines of people pledging every where you looked and it seemed like the whole campus was singing all the time!
I admit, while entertaining, they all seemed like a little clique and all of that rubbed me the wrong way. I’d just left a bunch of cliques in Manhattan at Murry Bergtraum High School so I was well versed in the art of telling girls where to go and how to get there. I was a Bronx chick with a chip on her shoulder and the unrelenting desire to be herself.
It may sound cliche but college really is a place and time to find yourself. After two semesters on campus, I found myself disconnected from the friends I knew from Freshman Orientation and wondering just what was it that I wanted to do with myself? Then I met a young woman rocking a royal blue and gold track suit with a matching bag. She had a gold tooth in her mouth and before she could tell me, I knew she was from Brooklyn. Slick Rick had a gold tooth and I was a Hip Hop homegirl so that meant she was alright with me.
I mentioned that I’d never seen her colors on campus before. She simply stated, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Just like that. I’m not sure how the rest of the conversations went over the next few weeks but I recall feeling confident that this organization had room for me. When offered the opportunity to become a founding member of a chapter, I took it. I joined two Latinas from the Bronx and a sistah girl from the Polo Grounds in Harlem to form the first pledge line on campus; Precedence, Kappa Omicron.
But even after pledging, I still didn’t feel fulfilled on campus. Most of the time, I was happy running around with my new royal blue/gold outfits and new responsibilities. Yeah…it ain’t just a slogan…Greater Service, Greater Progress is real people! But honestly, at that time I’d dreamt of a career in the music industry. As luck would have it, I returned home and landed my first job with MC Lyte. She’s now an honorary SG Rho. I find that so funny because I never really talked about the sorority when we worked together so many years ago. Any-hoo…it would have been a blast to have Lyte on a pledge line trooping through New York City, Aurora hat and all!
Through the years, I fell in and out of the organization brushing it aside when I got too busy or too caught up. I’d meet women on trains, planes and automobiles who were active and encouraged me to “come back.” When not writing, I held positions that focused on community relations and youth development. I developed a passion for early college awareness and for getting girls off the block and onto college campuses. As a teacher and then later as an Assistant Principal, I saw how so many children of color find it impossible to dream past the next weekend. After many years I reconnected with my line sisters and along with that came a re-newed interest in community service and mentoring. When I launched my blog last year, my Sistah Girls embraced me with one big royal blue and gold hug via cyberspace.
So here I am on a sunny Friday afternoon in July, typing away as the Amtrak train speeds toward the national conference; The Boule. A wife, a mom, an entrepreneur and yes….a financially active member of Sigma Gamma Rho, Sorority, Incorporated. Just like that.
Stay fly, stay fabulous and rock on !
LA Drye is a workstyle specialist currently blogging about women in the workplace. When not ranting and raving here she’s on Facebook or you can find her on Twitter @washndrye