Historic Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Incorporated Comes to Rollins

December 14, 2023

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority induction ceremony at Rollins.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins welcomes to campus Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest established Greek-letter organization for Black women.

On Sunday, November 19, Rollins made history when the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated as the second National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)—Divine Nine—organization on campus. Often hailed as America’s premier Greek-letter organization for Black women, AKA initiated 12 Tars into the Upsilon Pi chapter, marking a momentous achievement and milestone for Rollins and the Central Florida African American community.

With more than 100 members from the Orlando AKA and Rollins community in attendance, the chartering ceremony was conducted by AKA South Atlantic regional director and Orange County Clerk of the Court Tiffany Moore Russell.

AKA chartering ceremony
Photo by Scott Cook.

“We are so excited to embrace these 12 extraordinary ladies into our beloved sorority, and I am confident they will make long-lasting contributions to the Rollins College campus community,” says Russell. “These young ladies represent academic excellence, service, and sisterhood. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish at Rollins.”

Founded at Howard University on January 15, 1908—hence the chartering’s start time of 7:08 p.m.—the international service organization has more than 400 undergraduate chapters in the U.S. Membership is by invitation only and is based on the depth of commitment and vision of the host institution, which must show a rich legacy of service and leadership in education and advocacy.

AKA chartering ceremony
As sponsors of the undergraduate chapter of AKA at Rollins, members of the AKA Psi Theta Omega Graduate Chapter inducted the students into the sisterhood.Photo by Scott Cook.

Since the 1960s, there has been a persistent interest in establishing AKA at Rollins. This year, the Psi Theta Omega Graduate Chapter of metro Orlando chose to sponsor an undergraduate chapter, marking a significant step toward realizing this goal. The ultimate chartering of the Rollins chapter reflects a culmination of efforts.

“Students and their consistent interest year after year in the establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated are the reason we were able to make this dream a reality,” shares Bronwyn Holder, fraternity and sorority advisor. “As we seek to provide meaningful and impactful experiences and strive to be a more diverse and inclusive campus, the addition of cultural fraternities and sororities will provide more opportunities for our student body. As AKA joins Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated as another NPHC organization on campus, I have high hopes for the impact these organizations will have on our community.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha chartering ceremony
Photo by Scott Cook.

AKA is dedicated to fostering high scholastic and ethical standards and ultimately aims to create a sense of unity and friendship among African American college women, nurturing a supportive and inclusive community. The enduring legacy of AKA and the strong women the organization produces propelled chapter president and biochemistry/molecular biology major Kalen Roberts ’26 to join.

“Both my mother and grandmother are AKAs,” shares Roberts. “I grew to associate all of their characteristics—their emphasis on strong bonds, compassion, charitableness, strong leadership—with the sorority. As I grew older and was exposed more and more to the distinguished women of AKA like Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Kamala Harris, I better understood the type of changemakers and leaders who come out of AKA. To me, being a part of AKA is about taking that first step toward becoming like the women I’ve admired all my life.”

AKA chartering ceremony
Photo by Scott Cook.

With such distinguished AKA members, it’s no wonder the sorority embodies a commitment to “Service to All Mankind,” contributing positively to society through selfless service and outreach initiatives. The Rollins chapter already has plans to kick off the spring 2024 semester with a school-supply drive for underfunded elementary and middle schools.

“Belonging and mattering are essential to student success and well-being,” says AKA member and Crummer marketing professor Tracy Kizer, who also serves as special assistant for DEIB strategic implementation at Rollins. “Both faculty and staff are highly invested in seeing the students thrive socially and academically. Socially, the sorority will allow the students to have an increased sense of belonging and positive identification, and within the sorority itself are opportunities for undergrads to serve as chapter, regional, and national officers, supported by extensive training and mentorship. It’s truly a proud moment for Rollins as we mark this monumental progress of bringing the chapter to campus.”

The 12 charter members of the Upsilon Pi chapter are:

  • Megan Anderson ’24
  • Jordyn Burnett ’26
  • Ani Henry-Walker ’25
  • Shalisa Knowles ’25
  • Bupe Kunda ’25
  • Ophelia Lukamba ’25
  • Bree Martinborough ’25
  • Olivia McCoy ’26
  • Savannah Nurse ’24
  • Kalen Roberts ’26
  • Chanel Thompson ’25
  • Chanice Thompson ’25

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