Alpha Kappa Alpha presents two new members


From left: Lauren Bellamy ’24, Amber Bellamy ’26, Kristina Sandiford ’24. Photo courtesy of AKA

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Tau Delta Chapter (AKA), Randolph-Macon’s only historically Black sorority, presented two new members in a showcase last week. AKA and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated (Iota), which also welcomed two members earlier this month, are a part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), a group of nine historically Black fraternities and sororities. The NPHC was founded in response to the denial of certain rights to Black students on college campuses.

“We usually refer to them as the “Divine Nine” because all of them have some connection,”  explained Lauren Bellamy ‘24, who serves as AKA’s president. “They usually work together in different organizations.”

With the two new members, the Tau Delta chapter’s membership is currently up to only three, and Lauren was the only active member before the presentation. This, she says, was an unusual situation, but the chapter is usually fairly small. “[Recruiting]’s harder when it’s a smaller school, and also a predominantly white institution as well. If you go to an HBCU campus, some of those chapters have over a hundred members,” she said. “But I also think Greek life in general are just struggling in terms of trying to get a lot more members. Hopefully, after this presentation show,  a lot more people will say, ‘Hey, that’s what I want to be a part of.’ So hopefully it’ll change.”

The presentation was a forty-five minute performance by the two initiates, and attracted a large audience of local Alpha Kappa Alpha and other Divine Nine graduates.

“Our presentation shows are very, very huge in the NPHC organizations,” Lauren said. “It’s something that everybody looks forward to, and it’s funny because for an introvert like me it’s one of those really nerve-wracking things. I remember with [the new members] Amber and Kristina, they were both like, ‘I don’t know about this.’ It is nerve-wracking, but everyone looks at it as like your big reveal to the world as whatever organization that you’re now a part of.”

Kristina Sandiford ‘24 is one of the two new AKA members who performed at the showcase. Though she’s an accomplished violinist, she said this type of show was new to her. “That was the scariest thing of my entire life, I can say that right now,” Sandiford said. “I can perform, but with an instrument. This was completely different considering I had to sing, and then dance, and then memorize, and stepping, and strolling, and I’m not used to all of that. My throat felt so dry. But it was a very good feeling afterwards.”

Amber Bellamy ‘26 is the second initiate, and Lauren’s younger sister. She also expressed nervousness about the presentation, but it dissipated as showtime approached. “Memorizing it all was probably the hardest part. Once I had everything down I wasn’t as afraid to do it in front of people,” she said.

All three AKA members described the presentation audience and Divine Nine members as a positive and supportive group. “Lauren had warned me, she said that, ‘oh yeah, you’re gonna get a lot of gifts,’” Sandiford said. “She did not say that it was like an entire table of presents just for me, and an entire table of presents for Amber. It literally filled up my dad’s car.”

Sandiford says that Lauren was her only connection to AKA before joining, but Amber and Lauren have both been interested in joining for years, after attending another presentation at Randolph-Macon. “From then on I knew if I would ever join a sorority it would be Alpha Kappa Alpha, just because I loved what they stood for, I loved how they were pretty girls, I loved that they were educated, I loved how they were about service,” Lauren said. “I’ve always wanted to be an AKA.”

“I was probably seven or eight when that [presentation] happened, so I don’t remember a lot of it.  I didn’t really get to know what happened until I got older and understood it a little more,” Amber said. “But [AKA] was something I was always interested in doing, especially after my sister.”

AKA is primarily a service organization. Lauren explained that the chapter is currently focusing on community programs that address climate change and mental health awareness. “Our current [initiative] is ‘Soaring to greater heights of sisterhood and service,’” she said, “We’re really trying to make sure that we’re paying attention to the need [in the community].”

Each member also expressed that AKA is a unique important social space to have in a predominantly white institution (PWI) like Randolph-Macon.

“I think the greatest thing about having AKA on campus is that I do get a space to be with other Black women on campus,” Lauren said.  “I do want to specify, it is a historically Black organization, but that does not mean only Black women are in it. There are white women, Asian women, and Latina women in the sorority. But it gives the space for us to join together, have similar experiences, get to stroll in one step but also get to just share in common sisterhood and fellowship as well, and also get to do service with one another.”

Amber and Kristina both hope that AKA can be a part of building a more diverse, multicultural community on campus.

“[AKA is] another way that I can connect with more Black people on the campus. There are quite a few, but in very dispersed groups,” Sandiford said. “I’m also in Black Cultural Society, for instance, and they had the Black Excellence Showcase. Men With A Purpose has a lot of Black men in it as well. But I will say there’s not many Black activities, so I was very happy that I was able to join this one, even if it is a very small group.”

Amber described growing up in predominantly-white middle in high schools. “I’m definitely used to it — even being in AP or honors classes and being the only Black girl in the room,” she said. “I feel like we still need even more Divine Nine because I think that can really help students of color and especially Black students who are interested in Greek life to be a part of something where they can see people who relate to them and who are there for you as a sisterhood, you know?”

“More outreach about AKA and Iotas are needed,” Amber added. “Hopefully we can continue to bring more Divine Nine organizations on campus, it’d be really cool and add a lot of value to Randolph-Macon. Doing more outreach to the students of color is really important as well throughout the admissions process and everything. I think it’s super important to get to a place where we can call it a diverse student body and not always have to be a PWI.”