Deltas Offer Scholarships for Smart Takers
By Dianne Anderson
Out in the collegiate expanse, Caryn Lewis-Bugg is certain that someone could use $1,000 or more scholarship dollars, but that’s not what she’s seeing in their annual competition.
Judging by the slow response in applications, the organization is pushing its application date back to draw in more takers.
She is sure someone must need the money.
“We are struggling somewhat to get applications in. We have been reaching out to local organizations, churches and everywhere to see if we can get applicants because we know they’re out there,” said Lewis-Bugg, President of the Orange County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Part of the disconnect may be that COVID-19 has slowed down in-person meetings with guidance counselors, and the information isn’t circulating this year around campus as it has in the past. This time around, they have $5-7,000 in total to give away.
Students have until April 29 to apply. The application is available to download from their website, along with requirements and qualifications.
Availability is listed at $1,000 each, but she said allocations are according to rank as some students are super-overachievers with extracurricular activities. Others may have a 3.4 GPA, but a higher GPA would pull down a bigger scholarship.
She’s seen some stellar students come in at a 6.0 GPA.
“The 4.9 GPA might get $2,500 because they have just gone above and beyond. We really want to award their academic excellence and extracurricular and all of the things they’ve done,” she said.
Past scholarships awarded include some to the most prestigious colleges and state universities. Among them are USC, Columbia University, Howard University, and Spelman College.
She is a big fan of HBCUs, and there are many quality institutions to choose from.
“For those of us who graduated from an HBCU, we appreciate attending HBCU college fairs because they do on-site admission and evaluation. We’re trying to push HBCUs,” she said, but added that many students are still unfamiliar with the benefit of attending, or unaware of historically Black colleges.
The local Deltas services are focused on five program focus points, including economic development, physical and mental health awareness, educational development, international awareness and political awareness and involvement.
Coming up, they are also preparing for their annual May Week celebration, which includes top panelists, and participation from their many collegiate chapters. They are also in the process of incorporating several new international chapters.
While much of their outreach in the past year has been online, it hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.
Being virtual has opened up a new world far away with access to chartered chapters in Korea and St. Croix.
“We have a new chapter in Saudi Arabia, and two new chapters in Africa. We were up at 2:00 a.m., or up at all hours. We attended their chartering services because they were virtual. It was just a matter of setting our alarm clock,” she said.
For now, the majority of work they’re doing is on the political and social action side. They are nonpartisan, meaning they can’t push for one political party, but they can advocate for the community to be active in the democratic process.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re getting people out to vote, that they are aware the [June Primary] election is coming up,” she said. “Make sure you are registered to vote, make sure you vote, and make sure you assist the elderly that can’t get out to vote to get registered online.”
This time around, there are numerous issues to contend with.
She said they want to make sure the communities they serve understand it’s not just national elections that are important. It begins at the local level.
“You want to know who’s running for judge, for council, for school board. These are the people that move up through the ranks or state level, or your congress.”
For over 40 years, their sorority has provided over $250,000 in scholarships and volunteered countless service hours to the Orange County community.
She said that being a Delta means different things to different people.
Some join because they were probably an only child and wanted to be part of something bigger. Others join because it’s generational, their mothers, aunts and grandmothers joined. Still others want to get help from those in the know.
“When you’re a freshman it can be a lonely existence,” she said. “Being on a huge campus, they need support that they could rely on and reach out to, and to involved in various things that Delta Sigma Theta is involved.”
One thing is for sure, whoever comes into the Black Greek sorority is in for a personal and professional advantage that will last well beyond the college
“They would gain a lot of sisters immediately,” she said. “We’re still here and doing what we can do to support our community.”
For more information on the application, see www.orangecountydst.com