This week we chat with Paulette Walker of Valrico, the 25th national president of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a national service organization for predominantly black, college educated women. She has been involved in sorority activities at local, regional, and national levels for more than 45 years. Walker served as director of undergraduate programs and internships in the University of South Florida’s College of Education until July 2011. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and a doctorate degree in education administration and supervision from the University of Michigan. Walker was acknowledged by area Tampa Delta members at an appreciation ceremony in September.
Q: In four sentences or less described the role of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.?
Answer: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Since its founding in 1913, Delta Sigma Theta has clearly distinguished itself as a public service organization that boldly confronts the challenges of African Americans and, hence, all Americans. Over the years, a wide range of programs addressing education, health, international development, and strengthening of the African American family have evolved. In realizing its mission, Delta Sigma Theta provides an extensive array of public service initiatives through its Five-Point Program Thrust of Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement.
Q: Did you pledge the sorority in college? Why does it remain such an integral part of your life?
Answer: I was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta in October of 1966 through the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter on the campus of Michigan State University. While involved as an undergraduate student and member of the sorority, I vowed to an uncompromising commitment to service, which is the essence of Delta Sigma Theta. For more than 45 years, I have upheld that promise. My sorors are my sisters and our strength is in our service.
Q: Was becoming president of the national organization something you had longed to do? Why or why not?
Answer: No, I had not planned a Delta career ladder of success. In fact, I probably did not even deem myself as a leader. However, others saw something in me that I did not see in myself. It was their words of support and encouragement that led to me applying for my first leadership position in an alumnae chapter — candidate for chapter president; although I had served as president of my collegiate chapter. The rest is history, but I never sought any position for which others had not encouraged me to become a candidate.
Q: How can you in your national role and as a well-known Tampa Bay area educator serve as a role model for young women hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Answer: I would hope that my actions would speak for me. Let me not just talk about grace, humility, honesty, and compassion, but let me live it.
Q: Do you have a room at your home where you display sorority paraphernalia?
Answer: Visitors to my home often tell me it looks like a Delta museum. Trust me, there is no doubt when you enter my home that you are entering the home of a Delta.
— Kenneth Knight