In this interview recorded during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Arlean Leland and Lavdena Adams Orr, class of 1976, and Robyn Jones and Patricia Darlene Elliot, class of 1977, discuss their membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and how it impacted their lives during and after their time at Brown.
Leland opens the interview by explaining how important it was for her to orally document the first historically Black sorority to be founded on Brown University’s campus. The interviewees elaborate on the history of the organization and highlight the scholarly successes of each other as well as the emphasis the sorority put on academics. They also recall some of the community service projects they participated in while at Brown.
The interviewees backtrack to share their backgrounds and how they decided to attend Brown or attend the sorority. Leland explains that she was valedictorian of her class in Gary, Indiana, and recalls receiving an invitation to an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority scholarship tea because of her valedictorian status. This led her to both Brown and the sorority. Jones speaks more specifically about finding Alpha Kappa Alpha through her roommate. Adams Orr talks about growing up in Richmond, Virginia, being a first-generation college graduate, and her parent’s push for her to attend an Ivy League school. Elliot similarly covers her first-generation college graduate track from Columbus, Ohio, and cites Miss Porter’s School for Girls as the reason she found Brown.
Leland, Adams Orr, Jones, and Elliot continue to discuss various aspects of the sorority’s influence on their lives today and also speak to individual experiences with academics, professors, and specifically Deans Ripley and Karen Romer, during their time on campus. They each summarize their career tracks after Brown before concluding the interview.
Pembroke Hall, Brown University