Meet Theta Phi Chapter
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated chartered the Phenomenal Theta Phi Chapter on March 10, 2018, at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The five charter members were guided by the sponsoring graduate chapter, Pi Gamma Zeta of Southfield, Mich. With the graduate sorors as guides, the five charter members, Kaylin Foster, Aminah Muhammad, Octavia Edwards, Sasha Freeman and Camille Rice, sought to emulate true scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood such as the five pearls of the organization.
Then Michigan State Director Soror Tonia Jenkins and Soror Elner Bailey Taylor, a former director in our state who became Great Lakes Regional Director in July 2020, attended the chartering ceremony as well as sorors from around Michigan. At the time of Theta Phi’s chartering, there were no active chartered Divine Nine organizations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Representing scholarship to the fullest, the charter members of Theta Phi have been given honors of distinction from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Sorors Aminah Muhammad and Camille Rice were the only undergraduates in the state of Michigan recognized at the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Michigan State Organization 99th Founders’ Day Luncheon at the Whittier in Detroit. Their recognition of scholastic achievement was presented by then Michigan State Director Soror Angela Philmore and Michigan State Organization Scholarship Committee Chair Soror Leslie Wilson-Smith. In 2019, Soror Camille Rice was also awarded the Mary Reid Harriett Gray Scholarship from Theta Phi’s graduate chapter, Pi Gamma Zeta.
Sorors from Theta Phi have also been given distinctions from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In 2019, Soror Octavia Edwards was named the “Student of the Year” for the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters by the Black Student Union organization on the U-M-Dearborn campus. Sorors Kaylin Foster and Sasha Freeman were given student leadership awards for their community involvement on campus. Sorors Aminah Muhammad, Octavia Edwards and Camille Rice were all inducted into Sigma Alpha Pi, also known as the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Within Sigma Alpha Pi, both Sorors Aminah Muhammad and Camille Rice received the National Engaged Leadership Award. Soror Kaylin Foster received the Emerging Leader Award and the Service Learning for her increased organizational teamwork and effectiveness while gaining leadership on campus. Sorors Kaylin Foster, Aminah Muhammad, Sasha Freeman and Camille Rice also received one of the highest forms of distinction from the University of Michigan-Dearborn by being named “U-M-Dearborn Difference Makers.” “UM-Dearborn Difference Makers” are at the forefront of their respective fields and improving the lives of others by making an impact on campus and in their local communities.
Within two years, the Theta Phi Chapter has participated in multiple community service events and social justice initiatives. Following the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. national programs, Theta Phi has hosted programs for the Zeta Prematurity Awareness Program (ZPAP). It has raised funds for Zeta’s March of Dimes initiative and participated in many March of Dimes walks.
Theta Phi participated in the Adopt A School initiative in which Sorors promoted reading and literacy to elementary school students from The Dearborn Academy. Theta Phi Chapter has also participated in the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Get Engaged initiative supporting awareness of breast cancer and domestic violence. For anti-domestic violence advocacy, the women of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the College Panhellenic Council on UM-Dearborn’s campus hosted a self-defense seminar, in which Theta Phi participated.
In addition, the Theta Phi chapter has also participated annually in the UM-Dearborn’s Take Back the Night event marching and taking a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence. For breast cancer awareness, not only has Theta Phi given out pamphlets and hosted events about it on its campus, but the chapter gave a breast cancer awareness presentation during the “Jean, Pink & Bling” event at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.
Theta Phi Chapter, since its inception, has also annually volunteered with the Festival of Trees organization, which is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to support medical research at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The chapter has participated in the Project Volunteers 100 event hosted by the Benevolence Project on the U-M-Dearborn campus; its aim to fight and advocate for those suffering from hunger, homelessness and poverty. During this event, sorors wrote cards to senior citizens and helped make blankets for sick children in St. Jude Hospital.
During Zeta Week, Theta Phi Chapter hosted a “Finer & Fit” event to amplify fitness through African dance as part the promotion of the Zeta’s Z-HOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) initiative. Theta Phi Chapter volunteered with Circle K International for Make a Difference Day and participated in the MLK Day of Service helping to clean the community. Additionally, the chapter hosted joint study tables with other campus Divine Nine sororities to promote education.
In thinking about sisterhood, Theta Phi’s members have participated in numerous Zeta conferences and sisterhood bonding events since the chapter’s inception. They include embellishment, undergraduate retreats, state meetings, regional conferences and national conferences, such as boule and ZOL (Zeta Organizational Leadership Program, an intensive certification training for the Sisterhood).
It was an honor for Theta Phi Chapter to attend its first regional conference in April 2018 in Springfield, Ohio. There, the charter members got a chance to participate and witness the historic unveiling of the Tyler Sisters Memorial monument at Perrin Woods Park! Hundreds of sorors from across the country attended the dedication ceremony, which was part of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s 2020 100th anniversary celebration. The new additions to the park included a picnic shelter, benches and a memorial plaque, which were dedicated to Myrtle Tyler Faithful and Viola Tyler Goings, two sisters from Springfield who helped to found our organization in 1920.
Theta Phi is humbled to have a direct link to our honorable founders through one of our charter members, Soror Aminah Muhammad. Soror Muhammad is a legacy of Soror Precious Petross Buckner (who also had the zeal to charter chapters of Zeta Phi Sorority Inc.). Soror Buckner was the best friend and fellow charter member with Soror Francis Faithful, the daughter of the Honorable Myrtle Tyler Faithful. Soror Muhammad got accepted into the Legacy Club and the ZOL leadership program in June 2020.
When understanding Finer Womanhood, it is the leadership that Theta Phi Chapter exudes that is a true testament to their dedication to their community as examples for generations to come. Not only has Sorors of Theta Phi contributed to their community through scholastic achievement and service, but they also desire to contribute to the feeling of cultural inclusivity and diversity on and off campus.
Soror Aminah Muhammad was Theta Phi’s first Basileus. Beyond being a charter member of Theta Phi, she was a founding member and President of the Behavioral Sciences Association on the UM-Dearborn campus. Soror Muhammad was also the President of the International Golden Key Association on campus. She also was a participant of the UM-Dearborn SOAR program and was the treasurer for the Association of Non-Traditional Students (A.N.T.S.). Through the SOAR Program, Soror Muhammad was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society.
Soror Kaylin Foster was Theta Phi’s first Anti-Basileus. She was a member of the Leadership Advisory Board for the Opportunity Scholars Program at U-M-Dearborn, where she served as the chair of the academic/professional development committee. She was a member of the Student Philanthropy Council. She also commonly practiced service as she worked for the U-M-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences and Letters Advising office. Soror Foster also hosted her own station on U-M-Dearborn’s WUMD College Radio.
Soror Camille Rice was Theta Phi’s first Grammaetus and is now the Centennial Basileus for Theta Phi. Soror Rice was inducted into Le Chapitre Omicron Tau of Pi Delta Phi: Société d'Honneur de Français, also known as The National French Honor Society. Soror Rice was selected as a student ambassador for the Higher Learning Commission representing the College of Arts Sciences and Letters for U-M-Dearborn. Soror Rice was the first President of the Toast of Dearborn-Career Best Chapter of Toastmasters International and is currently the Vice President of Education. Soror Rice also was one of the founding members of U-M-Dearborn’s Greek Unity Council, as well as the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Greek Life Bible Study Group.
Soror Octavia Edwards was Theta Phi’s first Tamias. Soror Edwards was a student leader at U-M-Dearborn and served as a Talent Ambassador for the Talent Gateway program which promoted personal professional development in students. She was the first Sergeant-At-Arms for the Toast of Dearborn-Career Best Chapter of Toastmasters International. She was a featured Student of the Month for the Office of Student Engagement. Soror Edwards was also a founding member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Greek Life Bible Study Group.
Soror Sasha Freeman was Theta Phi’s first Phylacter and is Theta Phi’s Centennial Anti-Basileus. She is an active leader in the U-M-Dearborn campus and has served as the President of the DECA association. With her interest in political activism, Soror Freeman has participated in College Democrats as well as in Student Government as the Speaker of the House. In addition, Soror Freeman was the vice president for the student organization She’s the First, which raises money to sponsor girls’ education in developing countries.Soror Freeman served as the Student Organization Advisory Council’s academic and professional chairwoman.
In 2019, for Theta Phi’s one-year anniversary, Alexis Currie and Jasmine Sizemore were welcomed into the chapter as Theta Phi’s first intake class.
Note: This is part of the Michigan State Organization’s online series “The MSO Great History Countdown! Our Centennial Journey to State Meeting” to leave a lasting gift to the state in honor of Zeta’s 100th anniversary. Histories from every graduate and undergraduate chapter in Michigan are being published in the month of September 2020 in the days leading up to the Centennial State Meeting. The project was approved under State Director Lynese Thomas’ administration, and overseen by MSO Epistoleus Earlene McMichael in partnership with MSO Historian Trudy Hale and Great Lakes Region Historian Norma Dartis.