Norris Jennings, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
When Norris Jennings was asked to serve on the Silas Craft Collegians Advisory Board, he thought, “This is just another committee.” He quickly realized it was more than just another committee but a natural extension of his and his organization’s commitment to education. It was also an opportunity to honor Silas Craft - civil rights leader and the first African American principal in Howard County – who was a member Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Jennings says, “This has been very good experience for me. It keeps me focused on education and the young men in our community.
A national organization of African American men, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s primary goal is to develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities. Each year the Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter of Howard County contributes $500 to the Silas Craft Collegians Program at HCC and vigorously sell tickets to their fund-raising dinner at Hunan Manor. The Alphas have programs in all the high schools in Howard County and in two middle schools to encourage young men to maintain a 3.0 grade average and one of the fraternity’s national programs, “go to high school go to college”.
Jennings sees HCC’s role in the community as “providing opportunities for students to attend college that may not have had that opportunity and some who have the ability but may need additional assistance.” He thinks some of HCC’s programs, such as Silas Craft Collegians, distinguish it from other community colleges and “helps students receive the help they need. Sometimes students don’t understand what their needs are and do not know how to use resources that are available. These programs offer hope.”Jennings encourages other organizations to donate to the college by letting them know, “These are our students and our children. They need a helping hand and you can start by donating to the college. This is a good way to start to make a difference! He adds, “Do you know of any students that don’t need money? They may receive scholarships but it’s never enough. The college needs money to continue to offer the services that help students become successful adults. This is not a one-time donation but organizations need to make it a priority and continuously support HCC."