The nation is tuning in tonight to watch Vice President Mike Pence and vice presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris debate heading into the 2020 US Election. We really only hear about their political stances (for clear reasons), that it’s hard to envision them once as students, walking through campus, attending classes, and participating in college organizations, but we wanted to think back to a time before their successful public service careers. Tonight, we’re spotlighting Phi Gamma Delta of which Mike Pence is a member and Alpha Kappa Alpha of which Kamala Harris holds membership.
Phi Gamma Delta
Phi Gamma Delta, or more popularly referred to as Fiji, is a social fraternity that was founded at Jefferson College in 1848 by six college students joined together in a dorm room with the goal of creating a secret society.
Their mission “unites men in enduring friendships, stimulates the pursuit of knowledge, and builds courageous leaders who serve the world with the best that is in them.” They state their vision is “to be an active, vital force of men who courageously live our values and make a positive impact on college and community.” Phi Gamma Delta promotes its philanthropic efforts which focus on organizations such as Donate Life, The USO, and The Red Cross while encouraging their members to seek out other volunteer opportunities that enrich their communities.
Fiji has a comprehensive recruitment system laid out on their website and seeks out members who “fit our ideals and values so that they may perpetuate the good name of the Fraternity. It is only through persistent and systematic recruitment that we can spread the benefits and positive impact of Phi Gamma Delta effectively.”
Phi Gamma Delta has inducted over 196,000 members (brothers) since its inception and currently has over 11,000 active undergraduate members stretched over 143 chapters. You’ll recognize Fiji members on graduation day by their custom graduation stoles and purple and white spirit cords.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha is a sorority started by nine college students in 1908 at Howard University. The founding members had a dream to create “a support network for women with like minds coming together for mutual uplift, and coalescing their talents and strengths for the benefits of others” in a male-dominated time. Alpha Kappa Alpha is the first historically African American Greek-lettered sorority.
Their mission is “to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of “Service to All Mankind.” Alpha Kappa Alpha mentions in their history that its founding members “were conscious of their privileged position as college-trained women of color just one generation removed from slavery. But at the same time, they were sensitive to the needs and struggles of the less fortunate in underserved communities in their hometowns and in other environs beyond their travels who were in need of goods, services, and opportunities beyond their reach.”
Membership is by invitation only and the organization seeks women “who will promote, uphold, and extend its policies and programs.” Philanthropic efforts are focused on health, wealth, family, education, human rights, and parity issues. They seek to promote education and encourage students to attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), raise community awareness of critical issues involving women’s health and wellness -- specifically for African American women, financial planning assistance, arts enrichment, and global impacts.
Alpha Kappa Alpha currently has over 300,000 members spanning across 1,024 chapters internationally. You’ll recognize members on graduation day by their pink and green spirit cords.
While then-students Mike Pence and Kamala Harris surely had big aspirations, we bet they never thought they’d be in the positions they are now. Are/were you a member of Phi Gamma Delta or Alpha Kappa Alpha? If so, let us know in the comments!