These free programs mentor boys in middle school and high school and are hosted by college-educated men.
By Blake Carter
One of the most impactful community service programs that Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. administers is Go-To-High-School, Go-To-College, which is a national program of the organization. Two of the fraternity’s local chapters, Beta Psi Lambda Chapter (Los Angeles) and Mu Sigma Lambda Chapter (Baldwin Hills), participate with this program through their mentoring programs.
Beta Psi Lambda has the Alpha Esquires, which regularly meets at the L.A. Alpha House in View Park-Windsor Hills, and Mu Sigma Lambda has the Junior Gents, which is in partnership with the Men of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.
Both programs are designed to mentor boys in middle school and high school, preparing them not only for college, but to also be outstanding members of the community.
“The men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., we stress academics, we stress community service, and we stress brotherhood,” said Kraig Golden, director of the Junior Gents program. “And that’s what Junior Gents is all about.”
These free programs are hosted by college-educated men of the fraternity, who are doctors, attorneys, businessmen, educators, engineers, politicians, law enforcement agents, and men from various backgrounds.
“One of the goals of the program is to expose the students to individuals who have graduated from college,” said DeShon Andrews, director of the Alpha Esquires. “And give them the resources that they otherwise would not of had.”
Andrews has seen some very positive changes in the students of the program.
“A parent called and said that their child’s GPA rose this year based simply off of one workshop that we had, which was on study skills and time management,” Andrews said. “It taught them how to attack the difficult studies, so that instead of getting home and avoiding them until the latter part of the evening, when they’re fatigued and not really absorbing the information, we taught the kids how to break up their studies and make the most effective uses of their time.”
Both programs offer workshops in study skills and time management, college prep, and SAT/ACT prep, which are vital for giving a young student a chance at a successful life.
“When I grew up, there was a big push for education,” said Joseph Gambrel, a physician, and a member of both chapters. “Education was seen as your way out of this factory existence. With a reasonable education and drive, you were able to move up in the economic system. To get a better life than what your parents had.”
While the programs provide the tools needed to achieve academically and socially, they also offer workshops in resume building and career planning.
“Anything that distinguishes you from the other applicants is a plus,” Gambrel said. “It gives you a better chance of getting that job. And then how you perform determines where you go from there.”
Both programs discuss topics that boys need to learn about as they become men, such as how to conduct themselves in public, proper etiquette, being respectful to women, STDs, and money management.