The Iota Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha has become the first Greek organization at Syracuse University to endow both an undergraduate and graduate scholarship through the Our Time Has Come Scholarship Program, thanks to a pledge from Sharon Brangman ’77, MD.
Brangman increased her gift to the AKA Iota Upsilon Chapter Alumnae 1975 Legacy Graduate Scholarship so that it would reach its $50,000 endowment prior to the Coming Back Together reunion, pledging a total of $23,000.
“We were very close and I wanted to get us over the top to reach the endowment mark,” she says.
The campaign to fund the AKA Iota Upsilon Chapter Alumnae 1975 Legacy Graduate Scholarship was launched just before CBT 2017 by Michelle Walker Davis ’82 G ‘85 and Sonya Grant ’94. At that reunion, Davis and Grant planned an AKA dinner honoring Iota Upsilon’s 1975 charter members, a 17-member line called “Sizzling Sophisticates,” which included Brangman.
The chapter also supports the AKA Iota Upsilon Chapter Alumnae Endowment Scholarship Fund, which has raised $76,355 and funds undergraduate scholarships. “Our efforts over the years was born out of our sorority’s principles of sisterhood, scholarship and service, and also a desire to support our alma mater,” says Davis. Since 2016, the fund has supported six students.
One of the first recipients was Sonya Mattis ’17. She received the scholarship as she was heading into her senior year, which she says was perfect timing, as she spent the fall semester studying in London. “The scholarship allowed me to go abroad without many financial burdens. Being one of the first recipients of the scholarship that my chapter started was an honor and privilege to say the least, but to be able to use that scholarship to see the world was a blessing,” she says. “I held several campus jobs while attending SU without complaint. The AKA Scholarship provided me the wiggle room to focus more on my education and build lasting memories my last year at SU.”
For Brangman, the motivation to increase her gift was personal. “I was always that student who had to put a financial aid package together each semester to cover tuition and expenses,” she says. “There was always a worry about having enough to get through the semester.”
After earning her Syracuse University undergraduate degree in biology, Brangman attended Upstate Medical University, where she currently holds an appointment as Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Department of Geriatrics. She is a national expert on geriatric health care and Alzheimer’s disease, and leads Upstate’s efforts in a national clinical trial studying a new drug to slow Alzheimer’s disease.
“I think it’s important for alumni to do what they can at any level to relieve the financial stress for current students,” Brangman says. “Now, that we’ve hit the endowment mark, I hope alumni will continue to grow the scholarship so that we can impact more students in significant ways.”