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Opportunities to Lead by Example

March 16, 2009



Five fraternity brothers from Alpha Phi Alpha

Clockwise, former President Kevin Frison (top center); Anthony Hartzog, a senior computer science major from Brooklyn;  Jacob McHenry, a senior business major from Manhattan; Octavious Wilder, a senior communication and marketing major from the Bronx; and current Alpha Phi Alpha President Jamie Wright, an accounting major from the Bronx. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

The Razor Sharp Rho Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., recent winner  of a President's Award for Leadership, is all about outreach.

"I joined the fraternity because of the positive presence the older brothers had on campus," said Kevin Frison, former president, who added that 60 percent of all black doctors, 75 percent of black lawyers, 65 percent of black dentists and 95 percent of black college presidents are members of Alpha Phi Alpha.

With a roster of members nationwide that has included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, actor Paul Robeson, Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the fraternity has been at the forefront of both national and global issues: the civil rights movement, apartheid, AIDS, and urban housing. Alpha Phi Alpha opened its membership to men of all races in 1945. Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey was also a member.

The group's motto is "First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All."

Here on the UAlbany campus, Frison said, "I feel that we exemplify good grades, respect, and perseverance. We're well-rounded men."

The fraternity brothers help with Mt. Calvary Baptist Church's soup kitchen, mentor middle school students at Green Tech, tutor students through their Study with the Alphas initiative, and mentor Albany youth through Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which is also one of their national initiatives. Its no wonder then the fraternity was recognized as Outstanding Student Organization for its work in the community.
"I certainly feel that this group helps dispel negative stereotypes regarding fraternities and sororities," said Frison, who is now president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the council of which his fraternity is a member. "This proves we're not only about partying and other negative things that come to mind when the word 'fraternity' is mentioned. To us, work is first. All the fun stuff is secondary." 

Frison is a senior music and premed major from Spring Valley, N.Y., who plans to be a sports physiologist or plastic surgeon. He is also the recipient of a President's Outstanding Senior Award. He was succeeded as president of Alpha Phi Alpha by Jamie Wright, a junior accounting major from the Bronx, N.Y.

UAlbany's Alex Pena works in the NYS Assembly.

UAlbany junior Alex Pena is an intern in the NYS Assembly this semester. (Photo Mark Schmidt)   

Alex Pena, a junior from Suffern, N.Y., also illustrates the qualities that are representative of a President's Leadership Award winner. Pena, a political science and English major, recently won the Rod Hart Memorial Award.

Pena, an intern in the office of New York State Assemblyman George Amedore this semester, wants to go to law school and run for office himself one day.

Pena has found many opportunities on the UAlbany campus to develop his leadership skills. A member of Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service since his first semester at UAlbany, he has twice been elected to the Student Association Senate. This year he chaired the Appropriations Committee, which oversees $46,000 in funds for Student Association (SA) groups. He was also appointed to the Board of Finance this year, which deals with creating the $2 million budget for SA for next year.

I chose UAlbany because of the opportunities it affords, said Pena, which for him includes involvement in the SA Senate and being on the executive board of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. He was also one of four founding members of the first model U.N. group to ever be created on campus, acting as the group's first president.


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Samantha Irvin, '10
UAlbany Students

"I've been so blessed with not only one, not two, but three mentors at UAlbany. I want to play the same role for inner city kids one day, to be that optimistic influence in their lives."

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