“I had the most amazing experiences at the university. Give back so that other students can have the luck that you had. It culminates in being able to say, ‘These were the best times in my life.’”–Neicy Wells
In 2019, alumnae members of the Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. (DST) gathered to celebrate 50 years of sisterhood, scholarship and service at the University of Georgia. In conjunction with the celebration the chapter established the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Fortitude 1969 Fund, an endowed scholarship addressing financial obstacles for undergraduate students.
Both the weekend they spent in Athens and the scholarship honored five generations of DST Bulldog alumnae. Leading the charge as president of the chapter’s anniversary committee was L.D. “Neicy” Wells (ABJ ’96), a motivational speaker and author living in Powder Springs, Georgia.
When Wells was in high school her mother worked for a local government agency in Atlanta and noticed that job applications from UGA graduates performed well. On the advice of her mother, Wells applied only to UGA, and it paid off when she was accepted.
As a first-generation college student, Wells often wandered throughout UGA’s campus to learn her way around. On one of her walks she met two upperclassmen who encouraged her to get more involved on campus.
“They took me under their wing,” Wells said. “They said, ‘You need to get active. You need to be involved. You need to make the university the experience of your wildest dreams.’”
Wells followed their advice. The Office of Minority Services hired her as their first student worker, and she joined the Committee for Black Cultural Programming (CBCP), eventually becoming its president, and was a member of the University Union board. In 1994 she was initiated into the Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, UGA’s first Black Greek Letter Organization for females, which was founded in 1969.
Wells with fellow members of the Delta Sigma Theta at the 2019 Presidents Club Reception.
Wells’ involvement with the organization sparked incredible passion. Through CBCP, she worked with University Union to bring Grammy-award winning Atlanta rap group Outkast to campus for the first time. “The performance helped put our campus on the arts and entertainment map,” Wells said. “It was just a wonderful experience.”
When the Zeta Psi chapter’s 50th anniversary arrived, Wells was a natural fit to help plan the celebration. She called on the assistance of the more than 600 alumnae from each of the chapter’s five decades. As the generations of sisters planned the celebration a goal emerged: to create an endowed scholarship that would make a lasting impact on future generations of young people.
Through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, the UGA Foundation agreed to match every $50,000 raised for the Fortitude 1969 Fund. With nearly $140,000 raised by Delta Sigma Theta and $100,000 matched by the UGA Foundation, the fund was established.
Wells doesn’t believe in coincidence, and she recognizes the people who pointed her in the right direction: her mother, those two upperclassmen and the sisters of DST. She commemorates the relationships made through DST in her book “An Anthology of Sisterhood,” a collection of poems, essays and stories from 22 of her sorority sisters.
Now, Wells supports and guides future generations of UGA students. As a proud UGA alumna she is a charter member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council and served as the Cobb County liaison for UGA’s Atlanta alumni chapter.
“I had the most amazing experiences at the university,” Wells said. “I learned to give back so that other students can have the same luck that I had. It culminates in all of us being able to say ‘These were the best times in my life.’”
Wells found a community on campus that extended beyond graduation. Through her volunteer roles with the UGA Alumni Association, DST and her financial support for the university, she’s ensuring the next generation of Bulldogs can find that sense of home she found years ago.