The initial organizational meeting was held on March 31, 1997 in Gulfport. Eleven interested sorors attended the meeting and with excitement, committed to the work that lay ahead. The interest group members included Angie Bass, Vanessa Dedeaux, Janis Dunn, Shunda Knight, Erica Lock, Sherry Rankin, LaKeelsha Rogers, Wanda Sanford, Marilyn Vertison, LaWanda Watterson and Sonya Williams.
The group begin working on the necessary details to establish the chapter and presented the information to the South Easter regional director at the time, Vanessa Rogers-Long. The interest group called themselves "Gulf Coast Pearls" and elected its first set of officers to begin the chartering process:
President – Sonya L. Williams
Vice president – Wanda Sanford
Treasurer – LaKeelsha Rogers
Assistant treasurer – Shunda Knight
Secretary – Erica Batson-Lock
Assistant Secretary – LaWanda Watterson
Photographers – Marilyn Vertison and Angie Bass
Vanessa Rogers-Long gave the group her blessing to begin service projects, additional members of Alpha Kappa Alpha came on board and the group began meeting on a regular basis. While most charterings take up to two years, an aggressive effort of organizing, planning and completion of service projects led to Upsilon Chi Omega’s official charter on February 7, 1998, a record 11 months later.
Today, Upsilon Chi Omega has seen much growth in its membership and continues to make strides in the communities throughout the Gulf Coast. The chapter provides service through its programs that align with the international efforts of the sorority, as well as through its own signature programs that are tailored specifically for the local community's needs. Upsilon Chi Omega holds true to Alpha Kappa Alpha's motto - "service to all mankind".
Upsilon Chi Omega History
In December 1998, due to the vision of 22 established members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, led by Sonya Williams (Barnes), the Upsilon Chi Omega chapter was chartered in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The group was on a quest to reactivate inactive members on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and establish an additional graduate chapter that could better service the western part coast, in areas like Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Long Beach. While the existing chapter was providing significant programs and services, the 190-mile coastline could definitely benefit from more like minded women focusing their efforts in underprovided areas.