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Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Iota (Sweetheart) Profile #11: The Brave One

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Editor’s Note: When I first arrived at SIUE, I knew nothing about Greek Life other than what I had seen on ‘A Different World’, let alone heard of Sweethearts.  So when I heard that there was a line of Iotas that were reactivating the chapter on the campus, I was introduced to three Hearts that Spring semester.  One of them stood out as a natural born leader, and definitely personified what I thought a Sweetheart should be about—tenacious, fearless, and classy, all while supporting the brothers and being able to stand on her own, if necessary.

I can’t even begin to list all of her accomplishments here during her tenure in undergrad (seriously, I can’t, it’d be longer than this note) but if I was asked to describe her in a way befitting to how beneficial she was to Iota Phi Theta, Alpha Beta Chapter, I will say this:

Every chapter (should) have a Sweetheart cast from the same mold as our Eternal Sweetheart, Ms. Audrey Brooks.

She is ours.

Enough from me.  Meet Cristina Baines.

Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Name: Cristina D. Baines. Court Name: Ms. Visionary, “Nasty” Alpha Beta (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), Fall 2002.

What drew your interest to Iota Sweethearts?

When I started at SIUE, I knew I wanted to travel a different road. All but two of the Divine 9 organizations were active on campus. I truly didn’t feel Greek life was for me, yet I was very interested in being active in social and professional programming beyond those offered by other student clubs and organizations.  Bro. William White was diligently working to re-activate AB, and I was dating someone who expressed interest in the fraternity.  I saw that as an opportunity considering at that time, ladies became sweethearts by assisting an intake line complete their process.  The rest is history.

What is your current job title/business, and why are you in that field?

I am the Creative and Print Services Manager within the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications at Chicago State University. My undergraduate degree is in Marketing, and I also have an MBA. Most people assume the only positions in the marketing field are sales. Well, that’s not true. In addition to project management, I’m responsible for media buys, developing collateral for a 146-year-old institution, it’s five (5) colleges, 38 undergraduate and 26 graduate degree programs along with running the print production center. This role has enabled me to fuse my desire to run a small business along with being creative. Even though it can be stressful, I’m doing something I love.

Please name one aspiration you hope to accomplish in the next 20 years.

In the next 20 years I hope to be the Director of Creative Services for a Fortune 500 company. I also hope to have at least five more Coach of the Year awards as a youth basketball coach with the park district and being a mentor to young ladies.

How has Iota helped you in your endeavors, personal or professional?

Iota has afforded me many networking opportunities. Iota also helped me develop skills that are still useful today including event design and execution, contract negotiations and public speaking. I’ve also forged bonds with individuals that have spanned 10+ years. As a single mother on a college campus, there were moments that tested my character, but I was surrounded by compassionate individuals who reassured me that I could do anything and that they had my back. Some of those individuals allowed me to experience unconditional love and support. To this day I’ve had my share of challenges and I was able to call on some of these brothers and sisters. For that, I am eternally grateful.

What would you say to anyone considering membership in Iota Phi Theta/Iota Sweethearts?

Man, I could say a lot for this question, but I’ll just hit on a few things.

-I would encourage them to be certain of their decision. I’ve seen too many join or attempt to join for all the wrong reasons. The letter(s) are earned, not given.

-If you are chosen, answer the call wholeheartedly. Iota is bigger than just a chapter. We’re international! Be willing to contribute on and at all levels. Many of us have invested blood, sweat, tears and then some into Iota.

-This family is not for the faint of heart. While the challenges faced in and around 1963 are not the same, there are still struggles today for the organization, so do not assume life will be yellow roses.

-Do not only be concerned with what Iota can do for you. What can you do for Iota?

More from Cristina:

Unusual Bonus–>”It takes a special lady…” Even in the midst of my battle with cancer this year, I’ve been able to continue contributing to Iota with no one even knowing.  Too often do I hear excuses from within the organization about why things weren’t done or the time people don’t have, but based on my tests, they can save it.


(Images courtesy of Cristina Baines/Will Alston Photography)



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