Junior Michael Vante first heard about Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO’s) through the United Black Students club. He then joined the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, one of the nine historically black Greek organizations on campus.
Two years later, Vante became president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the umbrella group for the nine University of Miami BGLO’s. His term officially began at the end of spring 2013.
Originally from the United States Virgin Islands, Vante became passionate about the NPHC because it is “rooted in history.”
“A lot of the pride people have in their organizations is because of the history that they hold in terms of African-American history,” said Vante, who majors in English literature and Africana Studies.
After becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi in 2012, Vante continued to move up the ranks. He became the UM Association for Greek Letter Organizations (AGLO) representative for NPHC the following semester.
Vante then found himself becoming more and more involved. Eventually, the former president of NPHC had Vante going to events in his place to “groom him” for the position.
The NPHC, founded in 1930 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., came to UM in 1970. According to Vante, it was called the Federation of Black Greeks until 2001, when the organization’s adviser, Assistant Dean of Students Dayle Wilson, chartered the NPHC.
Notable members of various NPHC organizations include Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King.
Vante added that although the organization is historically African American, people of all nationalities are welcome to join.
Nationally, the NPHC includes the sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho; and the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta.
All but Iota Phi Theta are chartered at UM, and currently six of those eight are active. In total, Vante estimated that there are between 45 and 50 people in NPHC.
Vante explained that unlike the IFC and Panhellenic Greek organizations, which are largely philanthropy-oriented, NPHC is focused on what Vante called “community involvement” – the uplifting and fulfillment of minority communities. He said that more than anything, members of the NPHC work to educate and inspire change.
NPHC organizations still participate in charity events, too. On March 5, the NPHC teamed up with Alpha Kappa Alpha to put on a bake sale that raised money for the Relay for Life anti-cancer organization.
In less than a year, Vante has already made a big impression on members of the NPHC community. Sophomore Amber Williams, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, spoke highly of Vante and his commitment to the organization.
“All of my interactions with Michael have been really positive, and I really admire the manner in which he deals with adversity,” Williams said. “Michael is an excellent, heavily involved leader on campus.”
Vante refuses to take all the credit, however.
“None of my leadership qualities would come about if it wasn’t for the help of my e-board,” he said.
The board includes first Vice President Kiera Wallace of Alpha Kappa Alpha, second Vice President Brynn Freeland of AKA, Secretary T’Keyah Gadson of Delta Sigma Theta and Treasurer Kamari Durley, a Kappa Alpha Psi brother.
Mischael Cetoute, a junior in Alpha Phi Alpha, commended Vante for his community spirit.
“I can personally vouch for his professionalism when it comes to maintaining the best interests of the council over his own fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi,” Cetoute said. “Under Mike’s leadership, NPHC has increased its on-campus exposure and involvement in university-wide affairs.”
Vante said that, ultimately, NPHC members were about supporting each other.
“We’re different branches of the same tree,” he said. “At the end of the day, we make it a point to help each other.”