Jaleesa Morris is a senior at the University of Minnesota, and she is the president of Delta Phi Omega Sorority, incorporated (DPO). Today I sat down with Jaleesa to learn more about DPO and her.
Jaleesa, tell us about Delta Phi Omega Sorority, incorporated.
Delta Phi Omega Sorority, Incorporated, is a national sorority whose philanthropy is children’s education and literacy. Our national sorority was found on December 6th, 1998. From there we have established chapters and colonies all over the US. Our colony here at the University of Minnesota was founded on May 1st, 2011.
Children’s education and literacy advocacy is what we believe in. Last week was Delta Phi Omega’s literacy week. During this week we took the opportunity to spread awareness and shed light on children’s education and literacy on and off campus. Just the other day we went to a transitional house in Minneapolis, which is a living complex where families struggling with homelessness stay for 12-18 months as they find permanent housing. During our time at the Passage house we assisted the children in writing short stories and acting them out in small groups. Delta Phi Omega started partnering with the Passage House after I started tutoring there biweekly last year. We hope to continue building our relationship with their organization to ensure future collaborations. I tutor at the Passage House biweekly in their pre-k room. I help the children with letter/color recognition, rhyming skills, penmanship, engaging in social interactions, and much more. I have been tutoring for three years because of DPO. The sisters in DPO are required to do a certain amount of services hours each semester. Aside from that we are also involved with social activities on campus. DPO has mixers with other fraternities and sororities such as dinner gatherings, and causal get-togethers like study nights. We have five pillars: friendship, loyalty, honesty, sisterhood and respect. We base our values on those pillars, and we use them as guidelines for our behaviors. During recruitment, we tell the young girls who are interested upfront what we believe in because I think it’s really important to join DPO for the right reasons.
What do you think set DPO apart from other sororities on campus?
We have won the outstanding recruitment award for the past two years. During recruitment we host movie, glam, game, and service event nights. We try to make each nigh interactive and exciting. Also we really try to have a conversation with the young ladies who are interested and get to know them. We try to accept the young ladies as who they. My sisters and I, we all have our quirks and we are all different from each other. Each of my line sisters, including myself is all originally from other countries. The diversity that we have within DPO shows people that we don’t hold any kind of racial bias.
What does DPO seek in recruitment applicants?
Every student can certainly come to recruitment. We have the young ladies submit an application, which the executive board reviews. They have to hold their GPA at a certain standard, and they have to put thought into their application, interview. How do they present their application? Did they rush through it? Is it well written? Was the application completed on time? All these factors are important.
How did you join DPO? Does the life in DPO turn out to be exactly what you expected?
My best friend from high school was in DPO, and she talked a lot about it and asked me if I wanted to join. I wasn’t sure because I just transferred in and I wanted to get my feet on the ground. I ended up going to recruitment in the spring. Prior to recruitment, I would chitchat with these friends during breaks. I had the idea that they would be exclusive, because I wasn’t part of their group meaning I wasn’t at the U or in DPO, surprising they were all really welcoming and inclusive. I went to game night and dinner during recruitment. I had a blast. I was really glad that I could find multi-cultural sororities at the U, which I didn’t find at my old school. I was looking for women who can help me with my career. Within DPO, I saw these women who were in engineering, biology, psychology, finance majors and they were having the times of their lives and balancing it with school. I was surprised because I was already swapped with my academics, and I was like “how are you guys doing this?” I wanted to have that network and support system, so I chose DPO. Over the time, I have gained really great friends. We would run into each other in Coffman and just decide to have lunch together. Sometimes I will randomly run into a group of my sisters and wonder, “where did you guys all come from”. (Laugh) I have gained leadership experiences. I was the service chair last year and I organized all the service events. This year, I have been serving as president, which has helped me dramatically. I learned how to solve conflict, plan event, and work with the treasurer to create budget. Overseeing an organization can be really challenging, sometimes I just want to take time for myself, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I’m learning real world skills that I wouldn’t have learned from classrooms. As graduation comes closer, I’m reluctant to leave this lovely group of people.
How do you divide the work within DPO?
There is a handbook from DPO national laying out exactly the responsibilities of each member of the executive board members. We have our Vice-president, Salma Hassan, Treasurer, Arnette Lumapas, Secretary Crystal Ramsumair, and Historian Trinh Nguyen. Coming in to the executive board, I was really scared how I would handle the presidency responsibility. As graduation comes around, I don’t want to leave. It has been a blast. As stated in the handbook, the president handles conflicts. It’s a hard thing to get used to, but I have a really good support system. My vice-president and I, we talked about everything. We brainstorm to find the solution together. If it’s bigger than what we can solve, we bring together the rest of the executive board; if it’s bigger than the executive board, we bring together the rest of our colony. It’s very important to inform every sister what’s going on. As for the vice-president, she oversees all chairs. I don’t have to worry about event-planning and the chairs. I’ll ask her to give me the final plan. The treasurer oversees all bank accounts and checking-ins. We all work very well independently. I oversee the final product before it puts out. On top of that, making sure that we have constant communication is what made us successful too. Overall, I wouldn’t have functioned very well without my board members. I give them a lot of credits for what they have done, for tolerating my personality. They are phenomenal.
What do you think about the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chanting racist remarks in University of Oklahoma?
I think it’s definitely not acceptable and it contradicts with my belief with DPO. We have such a diverse group of sisters and I have been learning so much from them. Aside from learning the different food, different clothes sisters wear, we learn from each other in a far deeper level. Can we understand the struggles each person goes through? Can we understand each other as unique individuals besides skin colors? It’s great when the other person is different from us inside and outside because we can learn from them. That’s what we are here for, learning. It’s so much more engaging to hang out with a diverse group people. If everyone I hang out with likes to do yoga and running, like me, going to yoga classes and running will be all we do. Instead, I could do rock climbing, scuba diving with a diverse group of people. It’s crucial to be open-minded and step out of our comfort zones now and then.
If you want to know more about Delta Phi Omega Sorority, incorporated, click here for more information.