Wearing a flowing pink shawl and a smile from ear to ear, Evelyn Ingram stood proudly on the steps of Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel, surrounded by her 42 sisters. Sorority sisters, that is — but all the same to Evelyn Ingram.
“Even though I have two biological sisters, the sisterhood within the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) is an extension of that,” Ingram said. “We are intertwined by our shared love of community service, continued education for young Black women, and most importantly, fostering sisterhood.”
A short time later, Ingram, and her fellow AKA sisters were catching up over coffee, reconnecting, laughing and telling stories— doing what sisters do. With the sorority’s mission of cultivating and encouraging high scholastic and ethical standards to promote unity and friendship among women and girls, it’s no wonder the sisters had so much to talk about.
“Sisterhood and service are at the core of everything we do and who we are,” Ingram said. “I have this love of community service and connection, but my fellow sisters share the same love. For us to come together and combine that love to make a larger impact, it feels like I’m never alone.”
Since she was a young girl, Ingram had wanted to be an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman. Her mother, although not a member, was affiliated with the sorority while at Bluefield State College in West Virginia. When Ingram graduated from Syracuse University, she was eager to begin making an impact on her community. After completion of the membership process for Alpha Kappa Alpha, she was later initiated into the graduate chapter— Iota Nu Omega — in 1994. She served as chapter president from 2019 to 2022 and celebrates 29 years of membership in the sorority this year.
“What drew me to the organization was watching the way the sisters proudly carried themselves and focused on doing things to help others,” Ingram said. “My involvement has provided me with the opportunity to serve as a mentor and role model to other young Black women.”
AKA was founded in 1908 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The founders were among the fewer than 1,000 Black women enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions that year and included the 25 women who received Bachelor of Arts degrees from Howard University between 1908 and 1911. With this history in mind, the Iota Nu Omega Chapter focuses on cultivating academic sustainability and growth among young Black women.
This goal led the group to create the Alpha Kappa Alpha Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation. Each year the fund provides scholarship support for young women with the promise and potential to attend college or a higher education institution. We provide both financial oversight and administrative support for the scholarship.
“Many times we’ve had recipients tell us that without this scholarship, they would not be able to attend college,” Ingram said. “If our scholarship award can help them purchase books for a year or contribute to tuition, that’s a substantial commitment to their education and a resource that they may not have had otherwise.”
In addition to considering financial need, the sorority looks for recipients who demonstrate core values of community service, tenacity and dedication to continued learning.
“To really feel like we are having a direct impact on these young women and making a difference in their lives brings me joy. It really does,” Ingram said. “For all my sisters to come together, bring our love together and make it useful and impactful, to me is the best feeling.”