Digital Story

by Brendan Hilliard on November 19, 2020

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill remains to hold a population that is mostly comprised of white students. This leaves the population of students belonging to other minorities to be shockingly low. For perspective, the university population rate for Black students is 8% and for Latinx students is 7%. Although those percentages are low, it gets worse. Out of UNCs dense population of 29,911 students ONLY .361% identity as Native American. That’s roughly 108 students. These numbers are gross and shocking. With such a small population, you may now question how a native student can build a sense of community. When coming to a big university and walking around campus and not seeing anyone who looks like you, sometimes you may feel isolated. Many people at UNC-CH may agree with this sentiment, including sophomore Tiana Jacobs.

Tiana hails from the small town of Pembroke, North Carolina. She currently stands as a pre-public health major hoping to concentrate in nutrition studies. I found her perspective and what she did to build a sense of community as a Lumbee Native American on campus compelling and I excited to share with you.

“Alpha Pi Omega women are born not made.”

Tiana Jacobs

Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc., is the country’s oldest Native American Greek letter organization. Founded at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on Sept. 1, 1994, the sorority has more than 800 sisters representing more than 100 tribes nationwide and 24 chartered chapters. Within this community Tiana has been able to build a strong foundation. She shared that this gave her a new meaning to her life. Not only can she be surrounded by people who look like her and share the same experiences as her, she is also able to strengthen her ties to her culture away from home.

“We are truly a united sisterhood of indigenous women who are committed to each other, our communities, tribes, families, academic excellence and self-empowerment.”
– Alpha Pi Omega Sorority