For graduate chapters within Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., one of the highest honors a member can receive is the title of Soror of the Year. This member, chosen by other members of her chapter, exemplifies what it means to be of service to all mankind and sisterly to all chapter members.

2020 Soror of the Year: Gail J. Mitchell-Shields

Congratulations to Upsilon Alpha Omega’s 2020 Soror of the Year!

History with AKA Sorority. Inc. & the Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter
Initiated November 1972 – Beta Sigma, South Carolina State University
First Graduate Chapter – Beta Zeta Omega, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Joined Upsilon Alpha Omega January 2017

What does being selected as “Soror of the Year” mean to you?
I am very humbled and honored to have been selected as the 2020 Soror of the Year.  I feel earnestly grateful for the recognition given to me, by my sisters, for the work I have done.  The award means so much to me; that is, I do realize that any of the nominees could have received the award for the outstanding work that they do with every effort put forth.  However, for me, it means that my loving sisters feel that I have not only done my job, contributed my best and showed them what I have to offer, but they feel I stand out above the others.  I have done my work extremely well and they are proud of me.
Matthew 25:23
Well done, good and faithful servant. Thou has been faithful over a few things.

What do you feel has been your greatest contribution to Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter?
I would like to continue believing that my work and contributions to Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter are ongoing.  It is my prayer that through my role as Chaplain and Chairman of the UAO Sharing and Caring Committee, that I have blessed the lives, hearts and souls of my sisters. I pray that this year, during my tenure that I have shared, taught and given them examples of the “Power of Prayer” particularly during the most tumultuous time in our nation’s history.

Finally, I am a 2020 SAR Individual First Place award winner: Deloris Ham Oliver Service to Mankind Award.  Additionally, I have contributed my talents through recognition at the regional level.  Further, I am one of the first UAO Chaplains to render prayers at the regional level to hundreds of Sorors in our sorority.  The spirit of prayer was followed by a series of Bible Study sessions that featured our sisters and other spiritual leaders. I serve my sorority with pleasure.  I am a three-time Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient.  I have rendered each year, since my entry to the Chapter, 100+ hours in volunteer service in the name of Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter.  

Which committees have you worked with and what was your best committee experience?
I have worked on numerous committees since joining the Chapter.  To share just a few that stand out for me, as memorable, I should identify the Connections, Program, Membership and Sharing & Caring Committees.  I believe that it is important to offer assistance wherever and whenever I can. However, my greatest experience has been my work on the UAO Sharing and Caring Committee.  My work on Sharing and Caring has given me an opportunity to pray for, pray with, call, send cards, write notes, texts and email, and certainly reach out to Sorors; specifically, those I did not know very well and those that I just did not routinely have time to contact.  I was able to establish a connection, encourage relationships and pray with my sisters.  Further, the committee work helped me hone skills in pastoral coaching, spiritual writing and sisterly relations.

What was your best leadership experience with Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter?
My greatest leadership experience with Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter has been my opportunity to lead and work with my sisters on the Sharing and Caring Committee.  The leadership of the Sharing and Caring Committee has given me such joy and fulfillment.  As the Chaplain and committee leader, I had the honor of leading the prayers for the South Atlantic Region and plan spiritual messages with other Chapter officers.  I have had the opportunity to touch the lives of every Soror in some way.  Additionally, my experiences have allowed me to grow professionally.  Moreover, leadership in the Sharing and Caring Committee has afforded me an opportunity to lead through the woes of Sorors being sick, shut-in, losing family members, achieving goals in life and babies being born.  That is, remaining in a leadership mind-set when a myriad of life events are occurring and perhaps occurring simultaneously.

Further, leadership of the Sharing and Caring Committee has allowed me to see the value in collaborating with other groups, being a good listener, working with large numbers of Sorors, experiencing varied personalities, views, planning spiritual messages for the Region, Chapter and a myriad of committee meetings. The experience has certainly made me better able to lead skillfully and patiently.

What was the “Best of the Best” for you?
The Best of the Best for me is my Chapter and its leadership.  It has been a privilege and pleasure working under the leadership of Nicola McIntyre, Basileus and among my sisters as a leader.  Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter is an award-winning Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  I am so proud to pray, work and serve with the women of UAO. Most of all, I am so very proud to serve as their Soror of the Year.  I cannot think of a greater honor than being selected by my sisters and receiving their votes to represent them during these times in our nation.  I appreciate each of them greatly and stand proud as their representative for Soror of the Year.

What is next for this Soror of the Year?
My next steps involve my seeking more opportunities to shape, share and grow my talents as a certified life coach and minister.  I do plan to continue professional training in the area of Divinity.  It is my desire to continue to explore more ways to share the gospel, encourage prayer and share my talents in my chapter and sorority.

Former Sorors of the Year

2019: Mary Robinson
Georgette Sherman
Leslie Plunkett
2016: Koi Fisher
2015: Anika Doucette
2014: Pauline Hicks
2013: Adelma Stanford
2012: Nicola McIntyre
2011: LaKecia Gray
2010: A. Kenyatta Greer
2009: Madine Beeks
2008: Mary Matthews
2007: Bettina Durant
2006: Andria (Freemont) Daniels
2005: Nancy Warr-Bayonne
2004: Keesha Johnson
2003: CaSandra Smith

2002: Damita (Davis) Stanciel
2001: Janice McGruder
2000: Kathy Jackson
1999: Debbie Payton
1998: Cynthia Redd
1997: Angela Casey

1996: Beauty P. Baldwin
1995: Collette Johnson
1994: Geri Gonzalez