Founded at UNC, Alpha Pi Omega – the nation’s oldest Native sorority – turns 28

The nation’s oldest Indigenous sorority — Alpha Pi Omega (APiO) — turns 28 on Sept. 1 in remembrance of Founder’s Day. The sorority founded its first chapter, UNC Alpha Chapter, in 1994, and now represents more than 130 tribes over the years and has 24 nationally chartered chapters.

APiO was founded by four women representing the Lumbee and Coharie tribes, known to the organization as the Four Winds: Jamie Goins, Shannon Brayboy, Christina Strickland and Amy Locklear.

Hayley Jacobs, senior and current UNC chapter president, said APiO’s mission is to support Indigenous women through college and life.

“Having an Indigenous sorority on campus is so important because we are the minority of the minority,” Jacobs said in an emailed statement. “Sometimes that means we may need a little more support.”

Mikayah Locklear, the organization’s vice president, treasurer and historian, said her favorite memory is the night she officially became a member of APiO, a group she says has become part of her identity.

Jacobs said her involvement with the sorority does not end after graduation, as she plans to join one of APiO’s regional professional chapters.

“We want to make sure these girls still feel included in the events in the years to come – not just when they’re at university, because our goal is to support them throughout their lives and not just in college. ‘university,” Jacobs said.

The sorority’s motto is “My sister as myself”, and APiO has expanded its chapters to other institutions such as Oklahoma State University.

Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, who attended OSU and is APiO’s top public relations director, said she’s held the position since 2006, and it meant the world to her when there were other women. who could sympathize with his experiences.

The National Student Clearinghouse, which publishes reports on student pathways and enrollment trends, reported a 21.8% decrease in the number of Native American students who enrolled in public four-year institutions in 2020.

“Having a culturally sensitive community, like Alpha Pi Omega, in place on campus helps create a sense of belonging, fostering an additional bond and an additional reason for an Indigenous student to push for a way to stay if the going gets tough,” Krehbiel-Burton said in an email.

Since APiO’s founding at UNC in 1994, the sorority has established 14 undergraduate chapters and 10 professional chapters across the country.

Locklear said that since joining the sorority as part of the “Volunteer Beams of Balance” – the official name of the group of women who joined the sorority in the spring of 2022 – it has given her comfort, strength, knowledge and more. skills.

“Last summer I was able to attend our Great Gathering in Minnesota and be surrounded by so many sisters who have gone before me,” she said. “Being at that time and doing business was an honor and an opportunity to develop skills for that context.”

Victoria Chavis, a UNC alumnus and current APiO student organization advisor, said she helps with planning the organization’s events, checking grades and making room reservations.

“I really appreciate that the sorority’s mission is to create support and be support for Native American women in higher education,” Chavis said. “As a sister, when I came back to work here – I started working here again in 2017 – it felt natural to me.”

Locklear shared that sentiment and said she finally felt at home once she joined the sorority.

“Being on a PWI can be extremely difficult and trying to find your place where you feel at home. It was even harder for me coming from a rural and tribal community,” she said.

UNC’s Alpha Chapter was named APiO’s 2022 Undergraduate Chapter of the Year.

Alpha Pi Omega will soon be posting notices for their Semester Interest Meetings on HeelLife and Instagram for students interested in joining the organization.

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