Alpha Kappa Alpha, class of 1976-1977


In this interview recorded during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Arlean Leland and Lavdena Adams Orr, class of 1976, and Robyn Jones and Patricia Darlene Elliot, class of 1977, discuss their membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and how it impacted their lives during and after their time at Brown.

Leland opens the interview by explaining how important it was for her to orally document the first historically Black sorority to be founded on Brown University’s campus. The interviewees elaborate on the history of the organization and highlight the scholarly successes of each other as well as the emphasis the sorority put on academics. They also recall some of the community service projects they participated in while at Brown.

The interviewees backtrack to share their backgrounds and how they decided to attend Brown or attend the sorority. Leland explains that she was valedictorian of her class in Gary, Indiana, and recalls receiving an invitation to an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority scholarship tea because of her valedictorian status. This led her to both Brown and the sorority. Jones speaks more specifically about finding Alpha Kappa Alpha through her roommate. Adams Orr talks about growing up in Richmond, Virginia, being a first-generation college graduate, and her parent’s push for her to attend an Ivy League school. Elliot similarly covers her first-generation college graduate track from Columbus, Ohio, and cites Miss Porter’s School for Girls as the reason she found Brown.

Leland, Adams Orr, Jones, and Elliot continue to discuss various aspects of the sorority’s influence on their lives today and also speak to individual experiences with academics, professors, and specifically Deans Ripley and Karen Romer, during their time on campus. They each summarize their career tracks after Brown before concluding the interview.


Recorded on September 22, 2018 in Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD‘94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Alpha Kappa Alpha, class of 1976-1977. Interview. By Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. September 22, 2018.


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated had its humble beginnings as the vision of nine college students on the campus of Howard University in 1908. Since then, the sorority has flourished into a globally-impactful organization of nearly 300,000 college-trained members, bound by the bonds of sisterhood and empowered by a commitment to servant-leadership that is both domestic and international in its scope.

As Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown, it has maintained its focus in two key arenas: the lifelong personal and professional development of each of its members; and galvanizing its membership into an organization of respected power and influence, consistently at the forefront of effective advocacy and social change that results in equality and equity for all citizens of the world. Source:

At Brown University, the Iota Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded by fourteen black women undergraduates. The leader of this enterprise was Janis DeFrantz ’76, whose mother had been affiliated with the sorority. Alpha Kappa Alpha became inactive at Brown in 2012.

Arlean Leland and Lavdena Adams Orr, class of 1976, and Robyn Jones and Patricia Darlene Elliot, class of 1977, established their friendship through this sorority. After graduating from Brown, Adams Orr and Jones went on to become OB/GYN’s, Elliot became a physician, and Jones became a lawyer.