Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., an internationally renowned and historically black Greek-lettered sorority, recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary on Jan. 16. 

The sorority was first founded on Howard University’s campus in response to the want for a sister chapter to the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and an overall desire to champion educational and service-based pursuits for the black community.

Since its historical conception with only five female founders, Zeta Phi Beta has grown considerably while celebrating significant firsts; for example, the sorority was the first to charter a chapter in Africa. 

The sorority maintains several factors that continue to promote its uniqueness. Its initiation process is private and its version of rush week involves doing research on several sororities and attending informational sessions. Furthermore, Zeta Phi Beta exercises a founding principle of finer womanhood, which has set the tone for its events and overall growth.

This “finer womanhood” aspect is what initially drew Dannelle Kirvin, the current Professional Support Intern at UNM’s African American Student Services and the former president of the sorority, to Zeta Phi Beta.

“We are the only sorority with that principle. It is a standard we hold our members to,” she said. “The genuine sisterhood and authentic women in the organization make Zeta Phi Beta special.”

Kirvin’s role as president involved a range of duties, such as being a liaison between the alumni chapter and the Greek Life office, ensuring the organization’s executive board is carrying out its duties, regulating membership intake and making certain that the sorority’s events and programs were reflective of Zeta’s core principles. 

Despite not imposing a community service hours requirement on its members, Zeta Phi Beta organizes several events annually, including but not limited to fundraising for the March of Dimes (a non-profit organization for mothers and their children), partaking in Holidays Behind Bars (in which members buy gifts for children affected by family incarceration), blanket drives, tree-planting and more. 

Kirvin emphasized the overall importance of black Greek-lettered sororities as an integral resource to the black community. 

“It is important to note that these organizations were founded during a time when it was not favorable to be black on a college campus,” she said. “These sororities make sure that black students are getting into higher education and giving back to their communities via scholarships and community service projects.”

As a testament to her own statement, Kirvin said that she had needed a strong, black female role model upon arriving on UNM’s campus. This drive coupled with the observation that her morals aligned with the principles of Zeta Phi Beta convinced her to join the sorority — a decision she is proud of and encourages others to consider.

Kirvin fondly spoke to the symbolic importance of Zeta Phi Beta celebrating its 100th anniversary: “It’s amazing to see a group of only five women create such a long-lasting and dynamic sisterhood that has maintained its reputation of being welcoming and genuine and holding themselves up to a higher standard.”

Beatrice Nisoli is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo and can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on twitter @BeatriceNisoli