In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s Jacksonville (FL) Alumni Chapter in Jacksonville, Florida and did an interview with Julius Collins the polemarch/president of the chapter.
The position of president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Collins, who is a University Student Advisor, has been president of his chapter for half a year.
We interviewed Collins, who is a Fall 2001 Richmond-Perrine (FL) Alumni Chapter initiate of his fraternity and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
I am humbled to have been chosen to serve in this capacity to lead such distinguished and accomplished men. It is an honor to have been entrusted with this awesome responsibility to guide this historic chapter and carry on the legacy set by those that have been in the position prior to me. I strive to always represent the chapter and the fraternity in a positive manner.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
The Jacksonville (FL) Alumni in conjunction with our local 501(c)3 foundation launched a capital campaign to construct the Dr. Charles B. McIntosh Community Achievement Center in honor of a local pioneer in healthcare. The 5 core program components that the community center will offer are Life Skills Training, Financial Literacy, Health Education, Leadership Training and Information Technology which we feel will provide much needed resources to the people of the community. Another chapter initiative is Visibility through Service which displays to our community that Kappa cares about the public’s interest and will serve wherever there is a need. During this past election season, we collaborated with partner organizations to mobilize and inform our communities through educating citizens about early voting, their voting rights, voter suppression, and other dire information to empower them with knowledge as they exercised their right to vote. The chapter in collaboration with our foundation also donated books to the 2020 Senior Class of two neighboring high schools in the community. Our initiative of Training for Leadership is designed to prepare future leaders through mentorship and workshops. We host an annual Charity Golf Tournament, 5K Run, and Black & White Ball to raise funds for mentorship and scholarship initiatives. All initiatives by the chapter are done with meaning, purpose, and relevance to positively impact the surrounding community.
What made you want to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi?
I was first introduced to Kappa Alpha Psi in high school at a step show hosted by the Xi Lambda Chapter at the University of North Florida. Seeing these young black men that were well-spoken with a professional demeanor, yet still having fun in the process left a lasting impression on me. I was also amazed at how they were able to twirl those canes. Unknown to me at the time, men that were influential in my life were members of Kappa including my former pediatrician and a deacon at my church. Once I matriculated to college, I saw that Kappa men were an integral part of the campus life socially, involved in student government, and held leadership roles in other campus organizations. Upon my research I realized that the ideals of Kappa lined up with mine along with who I aspired to be and I knew that I wanted to be a part of the organization.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The unique aspect about the Jacksonville (FL) Alumni Chapter along with being chartered in 1925 as the first Greek-letter organization in the state of Florida and city of Jacksonville, is the variety of representation in its members in age-range, experience, and professions making for an extensive reach to serve the community in many facets. The chapter is comprised of members in their early twenties to ninety-plus years of age and chapter members have been pioneers in civil rights, education, health care, athletics, military, and all other fields of human endeavor. Frequently referred to as the “Award Winning” Jacksonville (FL) Alumni Chapter, the chapter is the recipient of numerous national and regional fraternal awards and also home to prestigious fraternal awardees and members that hold national and regional leadership positions creating a great deal of influence throughout the city.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
I feel that alumni chapters should be active in online formats that are suitable for them. It is important to create a presence online in some manner to stay visible in order to keep members engaged, showcase all the good that organizations do in their community, and to promote organization initiatives. This is necessary as we continue to progress and rely more solely on digital systems.
How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?
The Jacksonville (FL) Alumni is flexible to an ever-changing environment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter has persevered with by meeting virtually to keep the business of Kappa forging ahead and also hosting virtual social events to remain engaged with chapter members.
The chapter has hosted webinar sessions on COVID-19 facilitated by healthcare professionals within the chapter providing information about the virus and how to stay safe when out in public. These safety measures have been put into practice whenever the chapter performs community service.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is the ability to gain the trust of others to guide them toward a common goal and creating a plan to effectively achieve it. I was taught the essential keys to leadership are accountability, integrity, vision, knowledge, patience, communication, and inclusiveness. I believe in leading by example and a leader should be willing to do the work that they ask others to do. Leadership is also preparing future leaders by passing on the wisdom gained from one’s experiences.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is a vital resource for the connectivity of organizations to mobilize, share ideas/information, create awareness, and encourage us all to be at our best. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been exposed to this media platform and have learned a great deal from the information it has produced.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood means making one’s self available through altruistic means in support of a brother when called upon or in a time of need showing genuine love for one another and uniting to make each other better.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
The Jacksonville (FL) Alumni Chapter supervises three undergraduate chapters on the campus of Edward Waters College, Delta Psi; University of North Florida, Xi Lambda; and Jacksonville University, Omicron Delta. The Polemarch (or his appointed designee) attends the undergraduate chapter meetings to preserve the level of involvement between the alumni & undergraduate chapters. Various letters of recommendation have been supplied by alumni chapter members for undergraduates seeking employment. The chapter also shows support for undergraduate socials & fundraisers as well as involving them in alumni chapter activities. Financial support is provided by compensating for their chapter insurance premium and supplementing assistance for registration and lodging to attend all national and regional meetings. The chapter also encourages undergraduate members to seek opportunities of achievement & recognition on their campuses and within the fraternity.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Julius Collins for his work as the Polemarch of the Jacksonville (FL) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.