SGRho chapters in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Culver City, Compton, and Santa Monica impact the lives of middle school and high school girls.
By Tracey Edwards
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.’s aim is to enhance the quality of life within communities through public service, leadership, development, and education of youth. One of several ways that the sorority does this is through their Rhoers program.
“Our goals is to help these young ladies develop their leadership skills,” said Lisa Griffith, Rhoer advisor for the Theta Upsilon Sigma Chapter (Inglewood). “We model our three pillars, which are scholarship, service, and sisterhood.”
Rhoers affiliates mentor girls through workshops, community service events, and sister shares where the mentors and mentees work together to achieve goals.
“We encourage the girls to develop bonds and depend on one another,” Griffith said. “We mentor them all the way up until they go to college, so that when they grow into women, they will know the beauty and importance of having strong women behind them, and supporting one another instead of bringing each other down.”
Workshops include financial literacy, etiquette, interacting with adults and peers, and time management. There are also college workshops that touch on career paths, financial aide packages, and college requirements. One of the most impactful workshops is on sex education.
“We live in a day and age where the kids have more access to information via the Internet, but it’s not always accurate information,” Griffith said. “We have a few sorors who are OBGYNs and a few who are nurses. They hold a two-part workshop where they teach the girls about basic sex education and the emotional part of it that goes beyond intercourse. They teach them safe sex and they answer whatever questions these young ladies have.”
Mental health is another issue that this program addresses.
“A lot of our girls, dependent on what their environment is, suffer from anxiety and depression,” Griffith said. “We talk about mental health and discuss ways to control our anxiety.”
The goal of the Rhoers program is to have the students achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher. Griffith said that she has seen girls start the program with GPAs under a 2.0, and their grades dramatically improved over the course of the program.
“We’ve had a number of young ladies who sat down, wrote out their goals, and figured out how they were going to achieve those goals,” she said. “And they actually followed through on it.”
There have also been positive improvements in behavior with the girls.
“Their attitudes have improved as far as how they interact with other young ladies their age,” Griffith said. I’ve had young ladies who had bad tempers, but over the course of a year, interacting with other sorors, they have learned how to control their temper and look at things from a different perspective.”
Confidence is another area where the girls improve.
“The girls’ attitudes to trying something new has just amazed me,” Griffith said. “Because a lot of them are very closed off. They’re just like, ‘I’m only going to do this, and that’s it.’ But as time goes on, and they encourage one another, they are very open to different things.”
This program, which was created nationally in 1939, is of great importance to many girls who are in the foster-care system.
“Some of them don’t have the luxury of having a mom and a dad to guide them, so they have to depend on somebody else,” Griffith said.
Recently, the local Rhoers affiliates participated in the Sigma Gamma Rho Greater Los Angeles Sigma Youth Symposium, which was held at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. This event is extremely important because the advances in technology have dramatically changed the workforce over the last couple of decades. The purpose of the event was to prepare high school students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries that they can pursue after college.
“We want you to start thinking about the jobs, and the careers, that don’t yet exist,” said Darin Gray, the director of the Viterbi School of Engineering, who spoke to the students about the future job market. “When I was here (as a student at USC) back in the ‘80s, there was no Facebook, there was no Google, there was no Snapchat. None of those companies existed. Those (tech) jobs did not exist. As you’re going forward, the jobs that you’re going to be competing for do not exist. It’s not just about doing well in your courses, it’s about being innovative and having that entrepreneurial spirt.”
Gray said that Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, did a study that showed that 70 percent of the current jobs will not be here in the future because people will be replaced by robots or automated systems.
During the symposium, the students learned coding from STEAM: CODERS; money management from Operation Hope; how mental health affects Black women; and preparing for college.
“The purpose is to empower our youth with information that they wouldn’t otherwise get,” said Kim Prepetit, director of the symposium and Theta Upsilon Sigma chapter president. “We want to make sure that they are aware of the programs that they can participate in, that they are aware of the different fields of study that they could be interested in, and get them hands on experiences that they wouldn’t get at their schools.”
Each Sigma Gamma Rho chapter has a Rhoer’s program.
Contact the Lambda Rho Sigma Chapter (Santa Monica) at www.sgrhosantamonica.com.