TROY - Carry on a conversation with Dexavia Turner and you'll hear words like "grateful," "thankful" and "we" more than words like "trailblazer," "innovator" and "I."
She's not one to tout her achievements, but the humble 22-year-old senior spent last year breaking new ground as Troy University's first African-American president of a National Panhellenic Conference sorority.
Turner, an accounting major from Tuscaloosa, served as Chi Omega's president on the Troy Campus from January through December 2015.
"It was one of the most amazing experiences that I've ever encountered in my life," Turner said. "It was very unexpected, to say the least. Chi Omega saw something in me that I didn't see in myself."
TROY Director of Student Involvement Barbara Patterson said Greek organizations throughout the University have seen an increase in diversity during the last 10 years.
"The student body is incredibly diverse, with students from multiple ethnicities and nations studying together, and the Greek system continues to become more reflective of that diversity," Patterson said. "It's a trend we've seen throughout the fraternities and sororities, and students like Dexavia have played a key role in making that happen."
As president, Turner was put in charge of 180 women, and the crash course in responsibility taught her lessons she’ll take through the rest of her life.
"I never thought that I would have to do anything like that," she said. "One lesson I want to share - a line in our symphony that holds true to every Chi Omega — is to be womanly always and to be discouraged never. That resonated with me when I joined Chi Omega, and I've been living that every day since I've been a Chi Omega. It's helped me so much throughout my experiences here and also with my future endeavors as far as my career is concerned."
Growing up in Tuscaloosa, Turner watched as most of her friends and classmates went to the University of Alabama.
But when she visited Troy, she knew she was destined to be a Trojan.
"I'm from Tuscaloosa, so of course a lot of people from Tuscaloosa go to the University of Alabama, but when I came to TROY, I felt like this was home. It felt right," Turner said. "TROY means so much to me. Now that I'm a senior, I appreciate it so much - the opportunities they've given me and (everything) I've been able to experience. It has been amazing."
Patterson said Turner has been an outstanding leader, not only in the Greek system, but throughout the University. Turner has served as a Student Government Association senator, president of the Student Advisory Council and a member of the New Student Recreational Center Planning Committee.
Turner is currently interning at Hartmann, Blackmon, & Kilgore P.C. Accounting Firm in Fairhope. She graduates this fall and plans to pursue a master's degree at TROY, then eventually become a certified professional accountant.
While she won't brag about being president of Chi Omega, she is proud of the accomplishment and hopes it sets the stage for the future of the Greek system.
"I was so grateful for that opportunity, and it meant so much," Turner said. "I hope that this means that our Greek system will be more diverse and be more open to all people and all different cultures and backgrounds, because we all have a different story and something to bring to the table."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Greek system at TROY. Turner is proud to be part of that tradition.
"The Greek system is very important to TROY," she said. "We as the Greek women and men on campus do so much for this campus, and it allows us to thrive. It gives us that sense of family away from home."