Exposure Leads to Expansion
Alexandria, VA – The August edition of the Alexandria Noir column shines a light on Mr. Rodney A. Robinson, the Immediate-Past Polemarch of the Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Mr. Robinson is a native Virginian who hails from Virginia Beach and is a proud alum of Old Dominion University. Mr. Robinson works as an electrical engineer with Booz Allen Hamilton. During this interview, Mr. Robinson shares how Kappa Alpha Psi helped enrich his life and how the Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter brings state-of-the-art programs to Alexandria’s youth.
Zebra: How long have you been affiliated with the Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi?
Mr. Robinson: I was first introduced to the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity by my uncle, who encouraged me to join the fraternity during my undergrad years at Old Dominion University (ODU). Upon my graduation from ODU, I pledged the Portsmouth (VA) Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi in the spring of 1997. Since then, I have always stayed active and served in several leadership roles in the local chapters wherever I lived.
I became active in Alexandria-Fairfax Alumni Chapter after moving back to Virginia in 2005. I’ve served in various roles, including a member of the Board of Directors, Chairman of multiple committees, 1st Vice Polemarch, and Polemarch. I recently completed a two-year term as Polemarch for our chapter, and I am currently transitioning these responsibilities over to the new Polemarch, Dr. Kenneth Taylor.
Zebra: What are the responsibilities of the Polemarch?
Mr. Robinson: A Polemarch is equivalent to being the president of an organization. It is my responsibility to ensure that all matters that pertain to the Alexandria-Fairfax Alumni (VA) Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi align with the five objectives of our fraternity, which are:
1. To unite men of culture, patriotism, and honor in a bond of Fraternity
2. To encourage honorable achievement in every field of human endeavor
3. To promote the spiritual, social, intellectual, and moral welfare of members
4. To assist the aims and purposes of Colleges and Universities
5. To inspire service in the public interest.
Zebra: The Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter has the honor of being the first established alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi in Northern Virginia. How has the chapter continued to build upon this achievement?
Mr. Robinson: Our chapter doesn’t consider ourselves to be the normal Kappa chapter. We continued to work through the pandemic by switching all of our meetings, programs, and events to online venues such as Zoom. We couldn’t let the pandemic shut us down. There was too much work in the community to be done. This dedication resulted in the Chapter being named the Eastern Province of Kappa Alpha Psi – Large Chapter of the Year.
We have built upon this achievement by continuing to grow our brotherhood. To date, we have over 200 members that range from recent college grads to those who are in their 90s. This dynamic is one of the many ways that we were able to continue to operate during these unprecedented times, by pairing the younger brothers up with the senior brothers who were not as computer savvy and were able to set up their internet service and Zoom accounts. This helped them to stay involved with what was happening in the chapter without the risk of catching COVID. It has also allowed us to continue to reach the community through programs aimed at the youth and the underserved.
Zebra: The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s motto is to establish Achievement in Every Human Endeavor. How has the chapter contributed to the Alexandria community?
Mr. Robinson: Our chapter started a new youth Aviation Program with funds we received from the Northern Virginia Urban League that allowed us to purchase flight simulators to go into our multi-purpose facility in Alexandria. These simulators allowed us to build upon our current Guide Right programs that are geared towards students in the 3rd-12th grades.
This year we enrolled 20 students to participate in the Aviation Program with zero cost being charged to the students. The program focuses on exposing the students to the field of aviation through STEM concepts. I believe that Exposure Leads to Expansion, and this program will show the students a multitude of possibilities. With funds received from the Virginia Aviation Board, we were able to offer 10 of the aviation students the opportunity to fly the planes firsthand at the Stafford Airport. They spent about 30 minutes with a licensed pilot flying the plane and were able to apply what they learned during the 10-week STEM-centric sessions.
I was very proud of how engaged the students were in the program and the enthusiasm they displayed during each session. I am also grateful for the Northern Virginia Urban League for having faith in our vision for the program and collaborating with us to take it to the next level of success.
Zebra: What’s the chapter’s most successful program and why?
Mr. Robinson: I am delighted to say that our most successful program is Kamp Kappa. We have been running this summer program for 27 years straight. This year will be our 28th year. The program is geared to young boys from ages 10-16 and offers the chance to go to Camp Snyder in Haymarket, VA, for six days in the woods to camp for real.
Cabins are not an option at our camp. The kids are fully immersed in the camping experience, from tents to sleeping bags to campfires, the whole nine yards. The camp is geared towards building self-confidence and teaching the kids how to work together with people they really don’t know.
Last year we totally had to pivot how we executed this program, and like everything else that the chapter did, we took the camp virtual. We mailed out 75 camping boxes to the students that included tents, sleeping bags, a camping stool, first-aid kits, books, and other camping necessities to round out their experience. The camp sessions were led by various members of the chapter and focused on survival, team building, hygiene, education, and military options, and even included the Street Law program to expose the campers to the judicial system and teach them how to respond when getting stopped by the police.
Zebra: Is there anything that you wish more people knew about the Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi?
Mr. Robinson: I would love for the Alexandria community to support the Alexandria-Fairfax Kappa Scholarship Endowment Fund (AF-KSEF), which is a 501c(3) tax-exempt organization. The purpose of the scholarship fund is to provide African American college students and prospective college students with financial assistance that will help them through all four years of their college career. It is our goal each year to award at least $10,000 to students who qualify for the scholarship.
All of our programs are funded by donations. We cannot operate and provide these opportunities unless we have community and corporate partnerships that are generous enough to donate to our scholarship fund.
Zebra readers can stay informed and donate to the Alexandria-Fairfax (VA) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi by logging on to their website (afkapsi.com/), AF-KSEF website (www.afksef.org), and visiting their Facebook (www.facebook.com/afkapsi/) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/afnupes/) pages.
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