My name is Wanda Blackman, and I became a member Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Senoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority Inc. in the Spring of 1990 at Binghamton University, our Alpha Chapter. At that time Greek Life on campus for women of color was dominated by organizations based on African American culture. I was pleased and excited, therefore, when a Latina organization was founded. I wanted to belong to an organization that I would be involved in beyond the college years, and now there was one geared specifically for me! I couldn't wait to join!
In the years that I have been a member of this organization, I have gotten more out of it than I ever could have imagined. I have had the opportunity to work systematically to enhance the lives of Latinas/os through our community services, and to develop relationships with incredible women which go beyond friendship.
There is a certain solidarity that binds me to my Hermanas, because we know that we share ideals and goals, and have worked together to fulfill them. I feel a certain closeness and have a sense of recognition with my Hermanas, even if I don't see them very often. I have made friendships with women that under other circumstances I would never have even met, and I am part of a network of women I admire and respect. Even now, years later, I am often taken aback by the depth of feeling and the passion that I have for my Hermanas and for my sorority. We laugh and cry together, debate each other, and hold ourselves and our organization to the highest standards. What I have learned as a part of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, about myself and about my culture is immeasurable, and to say that I love my organization dearly, only begins to describe what my Hermanas and my sorority mean to me.
Date of Posting: 30 May 2010
Posted By: Wanda Burgos-Blackman
Alpha Chapter, Spring 90
In 1994 I was thrust from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the quaintness and "country life," of Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country. There I was, an 18-year-old Puertoriquena from the Big Apple starting her freshman year at the University of Rhode Island.
How in the world would I survive such a transition and culture shock? Well, it wasn't long before I became involved in as many organizations as I could and began meeting people who I realized I could connect with. Among this group of people were a distinct group of women just like me--Latinas and leaders. But, there was something between them, something more than a simple "hi," between classes or a group study break at the library. They connected at every level. They were all active campus and community leaders, all shared a common vision of empowering Latinas and serving as role models for other Latinas who didn't think college was an option. It's funny, because as I met these women, it was their actions that I saw and them that I knew, not the sorority which they belonged to. Not once did they try to "sell" their organization to me, a freshman coming to college with a twisted image of the stereotypical Greek life which was common in the media.
So as a native New Yorker, not trusting just anyone, I began my research and after much "investigating" and many questions, I realized that this sorority, Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. was something I knew I should be a part of. The journey that decision embarked me on, is one that will be a part of my heart Hasta La Muerte.
That was ten years ago. I have since cried, laughed, been afraid and confused, but most importantly have overcome and succeeded, all with my Hermanas by my side. They watched me go through my college years, graduate and become an educator and to this day, as alumnae, our love for Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. continues to emanate from our pores and drive our efforts to serve our community.
As an alumna you get a whole different sense of Greek life. You don't feel like you have to wear letters everywhere or prove anything, but you do realize that why you pledged that organization in the first place comes full circle. It was so I could teach and show my younger sister, my cousins and as many Latinas as I could that being a woman is not a detriment, but an advantage; that being Latina is not a hindrance, but an honor and that getting an education is not a privilege, but a right. The memories, experiences and true bonds that I have made with my Hermanas are somethings no one nor anything can take away from me,ever, because like my letters, they're all branded in my heart and in my soul.
Date of Posting: 30 May 2010
Posted By: Soljane Martinez
Delta Chapter, Spring 1995
Why did I pledge Sigma Lambda Upsilon? Well, I didn't need friends; I had enough. I didn't need sisters; I already had four. I certainly didn't need the escandalo and jeers I received from most of the Brown University community. What I did need, and found, was the greatest personal challenge that could have presented itself. I truly saw my personality emerge in stressful and in happy times. My strengths and weaknesses jumped out at me with a clarity that could not have been possible under any other circumstance. I learned that I am the embodiment of the pillars of Latino families gone by. Like my mother and grandmother and great-grandmother, I am proud, noble, and wise. I hold up my family when they cannot stand. I am a conglomerate of the black, brown, white, and yellow people whose blood runs through my veins. My laughter is a comforting embrace and my feet always remain planted on the ground while I hold up the sky.
I never questioned my ethnicity. I have always been Colombian, even more specifically, paisa. I never questioned my position as future matriarch of the family. I never doubted that I had to be strong. But every day that I was on line, I thank my line sisters and my Hermanas for making me question these once-concrete beliefs. I was Chicana, Colombian, and Puerto Rican. I was not always right. I did not always have to be strong. I could be human and frail, because someone would be strong for me. I learned to appreciate my strengths and to accept and work on my deficiencies. I learned humility and let go of my hubris.
What began as a personal challenge ended as a personal turning point. Everything I learned on line will influence my life hereafter. I live by the ideals of Sincerity, Loyalty, and Unity. I never waver in my beliefs even though I was accosted and harassed by those who didn't understand. I make myself understood and valued. I am not an alfombra. The accolades I had received before I became an Hermana, 1994 Presidential Scholar, 1994 National Hispanic Scholar semifinalist, 1995 and 1998 Brown University Champlin Scholar, cannot compare to the pride and personal satisfaction I found in the fall of 1998 when I received my name: Hermana Zagala, the shepherdess. Like the shepherdess that my Hermanas saw in me, I will continue to move onto uncharted lands, look out for obstacles and harm, and keep my Hermanas, loved ones, and fellow Latinos close to me. I thank God that even though I didn't expect much when I began pledging, I gained the world.
Date of Posting: 30 May 2010
Posted By: Alexandra Ocampo
Delta Chapter, Fall 1998
One of the things that attracted me to SLU was the LADYS and the PEARLS program. Knowing that there were women trying to make a difference in young girls' lives made me see that I had many things in common with the women of SLU. When I met some of these women, it was as if we knew each other for years. I had a feeling of comfort and I knew that our relationship was going to grow stronger.
When I decided to take steps towards becoming an Hermana, I took everything into consideration. I knew this organization was filled with Sincerity, Loyalty and Unity and that was something I wanted to experience forever! Seeing the bond that these women had was amazing. I have been able face my insecurities and also understand my culture, my family and appreciate the true meaning of sisterhood.
My biggest accomplishment has been attaining GPA of 3.5. This has made me understand that it CAN happen if you put your mind to it.
I know being apart of this organization is going to be for life. Being able to impact a community is an amazing feeling and that is exactly what SLU does everyday.
When I think of SLU I think of LOVE. I love all of my Hermanas and they show me the same love in return. I am there for them as they would be for me.
Date of Posting: 30 May 2010
Posted By: Gloria Ramos
Omicron Chapter, Spring 2005