XI GAMMA OMEGA HISTORY
In the years prior to 1980, the undergraduate chapter, Rho, was a region-wide chapter, serving: University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State, Cal State Hayward, and Mills College campuses. Many of the women, who would become members of XGO, knew each other from their undergraduate years as members of Rho chapter.
Some women, after receiving their undergraduate degrees, moved back to their home states. A few joined the “supervising” Oakland-Berkeley area graduate chapter of Alpha Nu Omega (ANO). It was not long before some of the local sorority members lost contact with one another, as they became involved with their careers, with other organizations, and with raising their children.
Some maintained contact. Two met regularly for lunch, occasionally with Anita Harris, and discussed their concern that there were many inactive members in the area. Rhita Wilson and Sherrone Smith contacted former Rho Chapter (UCB) Graduate Advisor Shyrl Hayman to join them in forming a new chapter. Shyrl had remained active in ANO, holding various offices. In their discussions, they discovered that they shared similar visions for a new chapter. It was their desire to have a greater focus on giving back to the community. After further discussions, they decided to form another chapter, but knew there were many obstacles that lay ahead. Shyrl Hayman took the lead for gathering all the information needed to form a new chapter. While planning a meeting for inactive members, Shyrl Hayman contacted Regional Director Charlene D. Carodine and obtained the necessary forms and detailed directions for starting an interest group.
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A Quest for Excellence Through Timeless Service: A History of Xi Gamma Omega Chapter
California State University (CSU) Hayward was a growing campus in the Bay Area and was in the area where several inactive sorority members lived. The area was referred to as the South Bay Area. It was believed that the proposed Chapter could provide support to this area, and could also establish an undergraduate chapter at CSU Hayward, which was subsequently chartered as Xi Pi in 1984.
Reclamation efforts were spearheaded by Rhita Wilson and Sherrone Smith who had been in contact with other inactive women. They gathered over 200 names of women interested in becoming active in the sorority. Organized in 1980 to make a difference in the lives of individuals in the community, city, state, and world through the chartering of a new Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the group became Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha East-Bay Interest Group.
Once the Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha East-Bay Interest Group revealed the number of women interested, and detailed the need for community service programs in the Oakland area, the Regional Director approved the charter.
Xi Gamma Omega Charter Members in 2017:
(Front L-R): Lemyrtle Finley, Laura Saunders-Stephens, Sherrone Smith, and Donna Backstrom-Jones (Back L-R): Wayzel Fuller, Lois Walker, and Gail Johnson Murphy
The International President was Barbara K. Phillips. Far Western Regional Director Carodine conducted the inspiring ceremony for the 50th chapter to be chartered in the Far Western Region. Present and, also, lending support was Past International President Ida L. Jackson. Inducted as charter members of the Xi Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. were: Jacqueline Adams, Margaret Amoureux, Donna (Backstrom) Jones, Rosylin Bessard, Cheryl Bolling, Doris Brown, Jenifer Burns, Wayzel Fuller, Gail Gross, Anita Harris, Shyrl Hayman, Mabel Hazard, Michelle Jackson, Beverly Johnson, Thomasinia Johnson, Virginia Johnson, Cora Lewis, Lois (Madkins) Walker, Valerie (Miles Tribble), Gail (Johnson) Murphy, Aloysia (Rochon) Fouche, Laura (Saunders) Stephens, Lemyrtle (Smith) Thompson, Sherrone Smith, Vivian (Smith) Carter, Marye Thomas, Thomasenia Vann, and Rhita Wilson.
Chartered on May 1, 1982. Mayor Lionel J. Wilson proclaimed Sunday, September 26, 1982, Xi Gamma Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Day.” In 1983, the 53rd Far Western Regional Conference, in Pasadena, brought Xi Gamma Omega (XGO) its first “Firsts,” with XGO awarded Chapter of the Region in its first year of existence, the announcement by the Regional Director of Shyrl Hayman as Chapter President of the Year, and with national recognition for the Healthy Summer Project in 1983, XGO’s “arrival” on the Far Western Region landscape was complete.
Begun as a result of the early efforts of its “trailblazers,” the women of Xi Gamma Omega continue to strive and to do.