Rev. Dr. Robert A. F. Turner
"St John Baptist Church values higher education and prioritizes assisting students of all ages in academic achievement. Howard Community College is effectively educating students in our community, and we appreciate opportunities to be partners through our giving,” says Rev. Dr. Robert A. F. Turner, Senior Pastor of St John Baptist Church located in Columbia, Maryland.
Rev. Dr. Turner believes there is an endless partnership potential between Howard Community College (HCC) and his church to address the needs of minority students who are struggling, especially those who don't see college as an attainable goal. The church values being a part of the network of partners in the educational process, and Rev. Dr. Turner encourages other community leaders to take advantage of the opportunity to partner with HCC to explore how the students and community can benefit both in education and other areas.
"HCC's role in education is to be a resource to the community because when they are a resource to the community, the community becomes a resource to them," Rev. Dr. Turner said. "Because the college is more familiar with what's going on demographically, socioeconomically, and culturally in the neighborhood, the college is able to reflect those findings in their strategic plan, curriculum and degree programs."
Rev. Dr. Turner’s son is a student at the community college and is benefitting from the school's experiences - meeting new students and learning to appreciate different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.
"He is learning a lot about himself and life, as well as course content and information," Rev. Dr. Turner said. "He continues to be inspired to aspire to further develop gifts that he has. This makes me and our church proud to be givers and partners with HCC. The benefit that he is gaining through his HCC education is shaping his life and placing him in a position to achieve his personal and professional aspirations."
The college's interest in student development and academic excellence motivates the church to provide financial support, contributing to various student support programs including Ambiciones, a program for first generation Latinx students, the Silas Craft Collegians program for recent high school graduates, and Howard P.R.I.D.E., a program for Black male students.
"So often, higher education means greater opportunities for students, so giving for us is an investment into the future," Rev. Dr. Turner said. Several members of St John Baptist Church also serve as mentors for HCC students.
"We're not only giving over $20,000 in support of scholarships in 2021, but we are also providing over 30 mentors from our congregation to offer personal and professional support," Rev. Dr. Turner announced.
"Our involvement in providing workshops and mentorship is important to us because we care," he added. "We express the care that we have for students through our giving, but also through our presence. To give back by offering our time, professional perspectives, and personal guidance is the way we hope to make an impact in the lives of HCC students."