Members of a new sorority chapter are looking to help Asian-American students find not only sisterhood but cultural connections and an identity at USC.
Alpha Sigma Rho is a national Asian-interest sorority founded at the University of Georgia in 1998. Since its beginning, eight chapters in five other states have been chartered.
When the Theta chapter of Alpha Sigma Rho was chartered at USC in November, it became the university's first and only Asian-interest sorority. This semester is the chapter's first active semester at USC.
Ashli Mohammad, a second-year accounting student and one of the nine current sisters in Alpha Sigma Rho, said she hopes the sorority will grow as they continue recruiting at the beginning of the semesters.
“Even though we’re still starting off and we’re still pretty small, we’re a pretty good group of very strong women who are determined to make an impact on the USC community and show who we are,” Mohammad said.
Deanne Manuela, a fourth-year exercise science student who currently serves on the executive board of the sorority, said the emphasis on academic excellence and Asian awareness drew her to Alpha Sigma Rho.
“Academic excellence because I am a student, so that’s always gonna come first, but not only that, but Asian awareness because I already feel really strongly about women’s rights and cultural rights and cultural diversity and stuff like that," Manuela said. "It was really important for me to want to spread that growing when I pledged."
The most prominent pillar of the sisterhood is its strength in unity, Manuela said. Manuela believes this is particularly important for Asian-Americans, especially at a predominately white institution such as USC.
"Because you are a minority, sometimes you do feel small, and you do feel like you can’t be yourself or you lose a piece of you when you leave home and you give yourself to this school,” Manuela said. “A sisterhood is so much different, because you feel stronger bonds with these girls that you would be friends with anyway."
Brayleen-Dee Cepeda, a first-year art studio student and sister in the sorority, said she believes the sorority's sisterhood brings minority students together.
“We’re very much into sisterhood, strengthening the community and cultural diversity and inclusion,” Cepeda said. “It’s a good way to get minorities together, especially if people might feel isolated in a predominately white campus.”
Moving forward, members of the chapter say they're hoping to serve and engage the USC community while growing their sorority's membership and impact.
“I look forward to the growth of this organization and the awareness that we’re gonna spread and the impact that we can make on college lives," Manuela said. "I’m hoping that we can have a lot of sisters in the future,” Manuela said.