I didn’t have an unfailing admiration for Alpha before I joined the organization. Essentially, I oopsed my way into the fraternity because I wasn’t good at saying no or quitting things. I have this issue with letting people down and not doing what I said I was going to do. I’m not perfect, every one of my ex-girlfriends will tell you that, but for the most part, I’m glued to my commitments, and my word is solid.
Let’s get this straight before we move any further, by the time I haphazardly made my decision to pursue Alpha, I wasn’t interested in any other fraternity – I ruled them all out through the process of elimination.
Upon entering college I was completely unfamiliar with Greek life, and by the time I transferred to Central I had only a fleeting understanding of the NPHC organizations, so they all had a fair chance, even the Iotas; however, by the end of my research, it was either Alpha or nothing, but a huge piece of me thought “nothing” was the best option.
I was doing good work as a part of other organizations on campus, and I was proud of my accomplishments to that point. Eastern Michigan felt like a distant memory. Gone were the days of playing Madden endlessly in my dorm room and waisting day-after-day of my incredible opportunity to attend college, so I was happy to be involved in my newfound campus community.
Back to the original story, a couple other students asked me if I was interested in pursuing Alpha, and I replied not really. They were the ones who were genuinely interested. I was just kind of tagging along and going with the flow as I sometimes find myself doing. So, through peer-pressure, I made the decision to express interest.
The step that follows is the wrong way to express because they say discretion is essential, but whatever. (If you’re an interest, don’t do this.) It was Get Acquainted day at Central Michigan University – a beginning of the year, get to know each other tabling event for minority students – and I asked my friend and fellow NAACPer, Aaron Staley if he knew the Alphas and I told him that I might be interested. He said something to the tune of, aww man that’s great – you should do it! Aaron wasn’t Greek at the time, but if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be an Alpha today. I don’t know if I ever told him that, but if he reads this then he will know; thank you.
Aaron pointed me to one of the two Alphas on the campus at that time, and I decided that I was going to do it. With much fear and apprehension, I made my way across Warriner Mall; step (I shouldn’t do this.) by step (Why am I doing this?) by step (Sheldon, stop it right now!) by a few more steps. I finally made my way across the yard that I would soon run like Usain Bolt. I say that in jest.
My goal as an Alpha was never to run the yard. Ask all my neos, I would always tell them to let everyone else run the yard; we’re going to walk with the people. I think our strategy worked, but back to the fortuitous stroll to the gatekeeper of my destiny. “Uhhh Hi, my name is Sheldon, and I am interested in becoming an Alpha. Do you have time to speak about your organization?”
We had the conversation, and he told me that I was kind of late to the game, but next semester is definitely an option. Interest if you are reading this, if a Greek tells you next semester, they probably mean next year, or they don’t like you. You better make something shake right then and there because next semester will come and go and you will be sitting there with the crying emoji face.
I walked away from the conversation like okay, I did what I was supposed to do, but something just wasn’t sitting right with me. I had a gut feeling that I was supposed to be pursuing this right now, so I did what every person would do after they completed an interview. I sent a thank you note, on Facebook (Don’t do this for a real interview). I can’t remember exactly what that note said, but it must have worked because he responded differently than what I perceived of our conversation in the shadows of Smith Hall on that hot end of summer day.
Why was it different? In my Lil Uzi Vert voice, “It do not matter.” I just knew I was in the fold with the group.
Then it happened; on an Ice Cold November night, the 15th, if I can recall correctly, it was a Saturday; and I was about to be revealed to the campus. I could hardly believe it. Honestly, it didn’t seem real, but it was, and so was the fear.
My mother used to and still tells me, “If you have to do something and you are afraid; do it afraid, do it nervous, but not doing it is not an option. Your fears will be forgiven, and your faith will be rewarded.” She was right. I don’t think I had been the center of attention in anything since my church solo days at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church where I led “Shake, Shake, Shake” in the children’s choir.
Imagine this, there about 20+ Alphas around who are saying: you are going to kill it, you got this man, you know you know it – you just have to do it, THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.
They were not lying. The pressure was real, and I knew there were hundreds of people standing in the cold waiting to see whom the new Alphas were. Surprise, it’s just me!
It is my opinion and the opinion of others that I absolutely killed that show. It was all passion, there were real tears, I was telling them a story of real pain. I was telling them that I was a kid who was afraid of the world, afraid to talk to people, afraid to show emotion because I was called a cry baby in my youth, but on that day I could show my tears, and my passion and my new found admiration for the brotherhood.
I gave them a glimpse into my journey to Alpha, and a look at my freshly bald head with the letter “A” shaved on the side (The haircut was terrible – Thanks, Takyi). The show went off without a hitch, and we celebrated, but the celebration was short-lived because I had work to do.
I was super excited to contribute, and I had a vision for what I wanted my chapter to be and the yard as a whole. If I had to do it by myself, I would, but I didn’t have to. Dave was the only other brother in the chapter at the time, and he was focused on graduating. He helped where he could, but I would soon understand the grind to graduate and get on with life. We made it work, though.
My Dean and I put together a week of worship, which to my knowledge had not been done by any other NPHC organization. There were Christian orgs. on campus, and that might have been their lane, but we loved Jesus, too. That’s when the momentum started.
That’s also when some of the disagreements started. The Deltas offered to work with us, and we declined. Then there was friction.
Maybe it was just I, and I was probably wrong. My motivation was that I felt I and us as the Rho Delta Chapter had something to prove and I had that solo mentality/arrogance, so we went about it on our own. If I am remembering this differently than it happened, please let me know, but either way, I apologize – nothing but love for Theta Theta.
My time as an undergraduate Alpha was certainly enjoyable. Becoming a member of the Brotherhood granted you privileges of the Brotherhood and those rights were whatever you wanted them to be. Getting things done on campus was a lot easier from a political standpoint.
I traveled, a lot, to other schools, which was really fun but put a massive strain on my relationship at the time. I decided to end that relationship, not because of Alpha but because I thought it was time to move on. (An upcoming post will be dedicated to my role in the failures of all of my relationships)
Despite some minor hiccups, undergraduate Alpha was an amazing experience. My personal growth was accelerated through the process, and I can honestly say that Alpha helped shape me into the person that I am today.
Alpha helped me find my voice and in times of comfort and in the face of adversity. Alpha taught me how to lead, shoutout to the C.O.O.L. KID5 and W.HO.D.A.T. Alpha taught me how to cast a compelling vision. Alpha taught me about approachability, vulnerability, humility and much more.
From the day that I walked/stumbled/shook my way across Warriner to the moment you read this, my admiration for the organization and, more specifically, the brothers in the organization has grown. I wasn’t totally sold when I started my process and probably not even when I donned the letters, but just like anything else; we have to grow.
I’ve grown into these letters and myself. A few years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to express how I felt on my journey, but this story is still being written, and I want to tell more of it, and I will so stay tuned.
TO THE YOUTHS
WHO MARCH ONWARD AND UPWARD
TOWARD THE LIGHT,
THIS POST IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED