Led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, the nine Howard University students who came together to form Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority were the scholastic leaders of their classes. Each also had a special talent or gift that further enhanced the potential of this dynamic group.
By 1909, with the exception of Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, the original group of women were comprised of college seniors.

Nellie Quander was elected president in 1911. Under her visionary leadership, Alpha Kappa Alpha initiated a dynamic plan of expansion. The first step of establishing a national body in perpetuity was taken in 1913 when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was legally incorporated.


The first chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, properly named Alpha Chapter, was established on the campus of Howard University on January 15, 1908. Alpha Chapter was founded by sixteen exceptional young ladies, nine juniors and seven sophomores. The founders were exceptional not only for their ability to envision such a dynamic sisterhood, but also for their individual commitments towards bettering the social condition of the African Diaspora. Later in 1909, the first Ivy Day was celebrated on the campus of Howard University, and was well attended by faculty and students. From 1908 to 1913, Alpha Chapter was the only chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and thrived on the campus of Howard University. Its members hosted events and participated in various service-oriented organizations on campus, setting a precedent for future sororities on Howard's campus. Today, the legacy of each of the founders serves as a benchmark for those who desire to fervently contribute to the success of the sisterhood. Moreover, for those placed in the unique position of passing through Alpha Chapter, the commitment and dedication to upholding the esteemed principle of “Service to All Mankind” is especially poignant.

With respect to the personal accomplishments of the sorority’s founders and incorporators, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle was not only the first college-educated woman to teach in Oklahoma, but she was the first woman in Oklahoma to receive a Teacher’s Life Certificate. Lucy Diggs Slowe was the first female principal of Shaw Junior High School in Washington, D.C. and the first Dean of Women at Howard University. Anna Easter Brown established an annual Negro History Exhibit within her community in North Carolina. Beulah Elizabeth Burke was dedicated to higher education and attended both the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where she received a Master’s degree in Home Economics.Nellie Quander, the first National President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, contributed the added dimension of a national organization by spearheading the incorporation of the sisterhood as a perpetual body. These accomplishments unmistakably illustrate our founders’ dedication to the organization’s goals. Their torch has now been passed to the current members of Alpha Chapter.

Since the sorority’s inception, the sisters of Alpha Chapter have worked arduously to uphold the legacy of the founders, while blazing new trails and reaching new heights of “Alpha Excellence.” Alpha Chapter has been recognized and revered for her ability to produce relevant and innovative programs, initiatives and service activities, all of which are designed to educate and galvanize the Howard University and surrounding community.

One such initiative began during the 1986-1987 academic year. Then presiding Alpha Chapter President, Malena R. Calvin-Rance, wanted to raise awareness on world hunger and homelessness and provide an opportunity for students to contribute to the solution. From her vision spawned the Malena R. Calvin Rance 48-hour Stop Hunger Fast. Through this initiative, the ladies of Alpha Chapter have partnered with Africare, the oldest and largest African-American organization devoted to development in Africa. Now in its twenty-second year, the Chapter continues to nurture this long-lasting relationship with the global organization. In Fall 2009, the Chapter re-implemented the 48-hour Stop Hunger Fast and began three new event initiatives to aid in raising money for Africare: the Care for AfrAKA Fashion Show, Balle African Party, and Care for AfrAKA Bowl-a-Thon.

In 2006, Alpha Chapter launched its first annual Stop the Violence Rally and Conference targeting inner city youth by expressing the importance of putting an end to gun violence. The program was initiated after a notable amount of shooting occurred in local D.C. public schools. Alpha Chapter has been recognized by Howard University, the North Atlantic Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, and the national body of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated for her achievements. Today, Alpha Chapter continues to work with D.C. area schools to help end gun and domestic violence through the Stop the Violence initiative.

In recent years, she has received several awards, including Highest Chapter GPA, most recently in 2009; induction into the North Atlantic Region 4.0 Club 2007-2010; North Atlantic Regional SPIRIT Award; Graduate Advisor of the Year 1996-2000; North Atlantic Chapter of the Year 1995, 2000, 2003; 2nd Place Chapter of the Year 2004; 1st place Chapter Exhibit Award 2006 and 2008; Howard University Organization of the Year 2001; Howard University Sorority of the Year 2002-2004, 2008 and 2010; and 1st place at the North Atlantic Regional Conference Step Show in 2009. The Alpha Chapter Step Team recently won 1st place at the 2009 Howard University Homecoming Step Show, 1st place at the 2009 and 2010 Rutgers University Step Shows, and 1st place at the Sprite Step Off Regional Semi-Final and Regional Final competitions. Alpha chapter's members continue to further the vision of the Founders. Ever-reflective on its past and working steadfast for an even greater future, the Alpha Chapter, after over a century, is "still going strong" and "will always carry on."

 

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