So, You Want to Go Through an Alumni Chapter...
Originally posted on HBCU Lifestyle September 18, 2014. Revised January 30, 2022.
So, you did not join the Divine Nine fraternity or sorority of your choice in college. Whether the reason was something beyond your control or you chose to hold off, you are in the same boat with others who are interested in Black Greek life beyond the bachelor's or even advanced degree.
Let's be honest. Some fear that they may have missed out on the best years of their lives by not joining a Black Greek-Letter Organization during college. But, think of being initiated into a fraternity or sorority via an alumni (or graduate) chapter as a new beginning. Here is what you can look forward to:
A Professional Network
You would be with brothers or sorors who are into their careers, a few of whom will be well-seasoned veterans in their fields. That means you may have immediate access to guidance and career mentoring. Although college chapters have advisors and custodial chapters with the same kinds of members, an alumni chapter could put you in direct contact with these valuable folks on a more consistent basis.
Tighter Focus on the Business and Mission of the Fraternity or Sorority
Okay, I have a confession to make. Grad brothers irked the heck out of me when I was an undergrad. There didn’t seem to be an end to what I perceived as stale, non-productive criticism. Then I became an alumni chapter president and figured out that their feedback was anything but stale and non-productive; and it was normally right on time.
Alumni Greeks are people with more life experience. With a tighter focus on personal responsibility and accountability, you will not be far from an alumni member who respects the lofty demands of honoring their respective organizations’ business and missions. This is especially attractive if you're a college student who is told that you have wisdom beyond your years.
A Deeper Understanding of Service
Service is what we do in the Divine Nine, and we do it diverse ways. On a more impactful level, the Divine Nine has collectively been deeply engaged in servant leadership since the inception of each fraternity and sorority. The alumni chapter experience builds a deeper appreciation for service in a few ways. One, you will be surrounded by people who have likely built their leadership skills through the lens of serving others early in their careers. Two, you will be surrounded by those who have seen how the dysfunction of society has compromised the communities we serve. Three, you may sit in the company of brothers or sorors who are pursuing or have earned advanced degrees in sociology, fundraising and philanthropy, social work, criminal justice, public policy, education, social entrepreneurship and other service-related disciplines. Their knowledge can give true context to the importance of the work that we do in the Divine Nine.
A Deeper Understanding of Leadership
You will meet people who have been through it in their respective fields and industries. Some may have shiny titles, and they won't mind telling you that they have "paid the cost to be the boss." These brothers or sorors can give real-life accounts of what it means to guide a diverse group of people to meet a common goal--the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.
A Different Kind of Fun
One of the biggest misconceptions among college students who are interested in Greek life is that the fun ends after college. Honestly, that depends on the chapter. Hey, I have seen some seriously boring college chapters in my day. When I was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of activity in alumni BGLO life. Actually, I think they put a lot of undergrads to shame sometimes with our parties, cook-outs, basketball tournaments, etc. Actually, one of the events that has grown in popularity in DFW, even among college members, is the alumni Greek show. The best thing is that, as a professional, you will most likely be able to manage the cost of having a good time unlike you probably do or did in college. *smile*
The warning label is that alumni chapters are not perfect. Not being initiated in college does not mean that you will avoid sometimes ridiculous and thoughtless behavior. You will be dealing with other human beings with agendas and building a solid team will take just as much work as it does anywhere else. The glue, however, will be your commitment to an organization that has a distinct mission and aims to serve the community in which you live and/or work.
Like anything else in life, alumni membership in the Divine Nine is what you make of it. You just have to realize that what you would be doing is on another level from college.