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s Collegiates Ignite, Inspire and Engage During the 9th Annual Collegiate Forum The 9th Annual Collegiate Forum took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, in Fort Washington, Md. (outside of Washington, D.C.) kicking off the 24th Annual Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital March 3. National second vice president, Chelsea Hayes, welcomed the delegates in attendance representing hundreds of chapters across the Sorority’s seven regions. Rev. Gwendolyn Boyd, 22nd National President and co-chair of the National Social Action Commission, brought greetings to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s collegiate members attending the forum. The theme for the day, “Ignite, Inspire, Engage: Catalyst for Social Change in the Next Century,” presented members with strategies to take with them as they continue the Sorority’s mission of service and social advocacy. “Understand it is our time to stand up, stand out and speak up. We encourage you to take your place. The next 100 years belongs to you,” said Soror Boyd. “Let the world know that the ‘D’ will never be silent.” Semhar Araia, founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network, was the guest speaker and addressed the members’ duty, as African-American women, to demand the respect due to all women. She recalled how her mother rushed to become a citizen of the United States, not for the benefits, so that she could have the right to vote. “Change starts with women. Your life, your story and your voice deserves to be heard, deserves to be respected, and deserves to have role.” said Araia. Araia shared that she followed her happiness, her purpose and her passion for service to make the most of her life, leading her down a path of working with internal affairs. She urged the collegiate members to be courageous enough to take self-discovery journeys, associate with other change makers, and listen to their advice. She provided them with several characteristics of change that they would need in order to be effective change agents including: goal setting, public appeal through social media, community coalition, and faith. “Change doesn’t start with someone else, but it starts with you and the way you live,” said Araia. “Change starts with the choices you make, the way you spend your time, and the messages you share with the rest of the world. You are representing yourself, your people, your sisters and sorors.” She advised members to create the spaces where they wish to exist by giving legislators and policy makers examples of their plans they intend to have realized. “When you find your passion it makes anything possible. It unleashes and ignites your power. When it comes to social change, passion is not an option,” said Araia. Araia gave the future change makers words of encouragement for the work ahead, stating that social change does not come easy, but is feels easy if you know the purpose for being there. She ended on a quote from Shirley Chisolm that states, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” The Opening Session was following by workshops presented by Dr. Pamela Ross, founder of Holistic Medical Consultants; Dominique Harris, senior policy associate for Cargill, Inc.; and Regina Scott, Midwest Regional domestic violence coordinator, which covered topics aimed towards: igniting a holistic approach to health; engaging involvement in politics; and inspiring awareness of domestic violence. s By Bernadine Williams Stallings JOURNAL Summer 2013 19


SummerJournal2013
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