In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s Greenville (NC) Alumni (Emerald City Nupes) in Greenville, NC and did an interview with Ismial “Roc” Harris the Polemarch of the chapter.
The position of Polemarch/president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Harris, who works as a health/ physical education teacher, has been in the position of Polemarch for one year.
We interviewed Harris, who is a Spring 2020 – Greenville (NC) Alumni initiate of his fraternity and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
I was motivated to take on the role because I felt that I had been under great leadership and was given the proper tools to take on that challenge. I knew I would have great support and the brothers in the chapter would help me overcome any obstacles I might run into. I was also looking forward to grow professionally and as a leader in the organization.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
We have some health initiatives that we want to meet in our community when it comes to cancer as well as mental health. We hold events with other services and do blood pressure checks and often hand out pamphlets about smoking and getting regular checkups. I think that the black community is afraid of what they will find when they go to the doctor so it’s important that is pushed by people who look like them. Mental health is also a thing that gets pushed to the back burner due to a lot our religious beliefs but it is real. We are looking to serve our community in that aspect as well. Currently we are looking to expand our Guide Right program into other counties. We hope to gain more members in our Kappa League program and give out more scholarships than even in the past which has helped a lot of students thus far.
What made you want to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi?
I’ve always wanted to be a member since I was about 16. Of course everyone knows that Kappas are the smoothest brothers of them all. Honestly though, I felt that the brothers I first came in contact were really professional and hardworking. They were outgoing and seem to have a purpose about them. I took interest in the fraternity at a young age by being around some older members and I guess that’s where the first interest started.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
We are considered a small chapter compared to the other chapters in our province but we have accomplished so much with the hard work of the brothers in this chapter. We are often recognized for our efforts and achievements and we are pound for pound on of the strongest chapters in our province.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
We allow them to sit in on our meetings to get the notion of how to do Kappa business. We also make sure they are represented on the provincial level with just recently one of the members being the Junior Vice President of the Middle-Eastern Province. We push them for positions and support their causes on campus socially, financially, and academically.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
Our chapter meetings generally help with most of that because we meet monthly and generally eat together about once a month as well. We check on each other often and make sure that each member is healthy and in good spirit. Social events often help and attending other Greek events help with that as well.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
Listen, learn, and put the work and it will come naturally. I never thought about being the Polemarch of my chapter this soon. I was called into the position because I put in the work and the other brothers and past Polemarch entrusted me to do the job.
How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?
Mentorship is something that I have been doing since I was 15 so I think it just comes naturally for me today. It has helped me in coaching, teaching, and as well with things like camps I have been apart of and events we have had with Kappa League. I often make sure that I build relationships with kids and young adults because sometimes all they need is one person to believe in them. I feel like every older brother in my fraternity has impacted me or has given me advice to become successful at some point or another. I don’t want to start naming because I might miss someone but just know they are all appreciated. Everyone needs mentors, not just kids and young adults.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
It promotes our black fraternities/sororities in a positive light when that is not always the case for all publications. Watch the Yard keeps fraternity/sorority and community members informed and show a lot of good things happening across the world and how we impact more than just our own entities.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
We really do a lot of great things in our community and have a great bond across the board. As a whole I think Kappa Alpha Psi is the most prestigious fraternity in the world. We have the best programs, professional development, collaboration, and networking. I also think we target and influence kids in a positive manner with our Guide Right program and keep them pushing for excellence throughout their secondary years.
Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood means a lifelong commitment of caring, supporting, and thriving as a unit and helping other brothers achieve their goals through consummate support and encouragement.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Ismial “Roc” Harris for his work as the Polemarch of the Greenville (NC) Alumni (Emerald City Nupes) which has a legacy that spans back to 1986.
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