For many students, the journey to getting into college is over when they receive their acceptance letters.
Members of Charleston Southern University’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, however, are reliving that experience to help students at Stall High School in North Charleston start their own college journeys.
“We felt like we could really relate to the students because we were in their position no more than three years ago,” said Byron Melvin, the chapter’s secretary.
Jarred Major, president of the Mu Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Charleston Southern, said the organization mentored students at Stall all semester. They host monthly seminars to teach young men how to behave like gentlemen, help students apply to college with the “Go to High School, Go to College” program and helped students register to vote.
“What we like the most is the seminar because we can interact with them and see they enjoy it,” Major said.
The chapter hosted the “100 Men in Black” scholarship banquet earlier this month to raise money for a scholarship fund to go to two Stall seniors.
The applications are open to male and female students and will go out in the spring. Stall staff members will review the applications of students who meet a minimum GPA requirement and write an essay. The chapter will choose the two recipients.
Stall senior Antwania Heyward attended the banquet and has seen the impact Alpha Phi Alpha is making on her peers. She said she plans to apply for the scholarship, too.“Just to be in that atmosphere was very nice and to see the way they bond with each other,” she said about the organization.
Heyward said one of the things that affected her the most was when A.J. Matthews, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and a Charleston Southern junior, told the story of when he dropped football to spend more time focusing on his education. Matthews received an academic award from the chapter that night.“Put your education first because that’s the key to getting to where you need to go,” Heyward said.
When asked what obstacles prevent her peers from applying to college, she said courage.“They lose courage when things aren’t going well. It’s not so much applying. We have teachers and guidance counselors to talk to and help with that. ... It’s the courage and comfort within themselves,” she said.
Major said he got the idea for the scholarship because he saw the need while working with the students.
“A lot wanted to go to college, but didn’t have the tools or finances to go,” Major said.
“Education helps save you from your environment. We know the area, and just speaking with the staff, they told us how many at-risk youth there are at Stall,” Melvin said.
Major said it’s important to give back to students because they are our future.
“Sacrificing a little to give back shows our growth as a society where we can give to others so we can see success in our nation,” he added.
The chapter is still taking donations for the scholarship fund. Mail cash, check or money orders to 2225 Greenridge Road, Apartment 906, North Charleston, SC 29406. All checks and money orders should be written out to Charleston Southern University with “Scholarship Fund” in the memo.
If donating by PayPal, send an email to email@example.com.
“This is our starting ground. We want to see our interactions as this chapter of the fraternity grows more, where it’s not just Stall, but where our presence is known where we have enhanced our community,” Major said.
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560.