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African American Knowledge Community (AAKC): Building Up Others through Community

Region IV-W Region IV-W
January 2, 2019 Michael Harris Tulsa Community College

As far back as I can remember, going to church on Sunday was a part of my family's weekly routine. I was growing in my faith and trying to hold a tune in the choir. Additionally, I was very active and social. Periodically, I would get myself in trouble for talking with my friends while sitting in the back of the church. Consequently, my fun times would end with a reprimand. Sometimes it was not one of my parents but other adult members admonishing me. They most likely had known me since I was a toddler. No matter how annoyed I may have been at the time of the chiding, I knew in the back of my mind, they cared and were holding me accountable.

Years later, I have spoken with various friends who shared the same experiences either in our church, school or neighborhood. One thing was clear, as young African American men and women, we all thought we would (not could) be successful as adults. This mindset came from the love and confidence our community showed us. To this day, I have fond memories of those who took the time to build me up. I was told that my uniqueness and strong sense of self was a strength, not something to be ashamed of or to hide. It is with pride and sincere intent that I became the African American Knowledge Community Region IV-West Representative. It is my honor to extend that same avocation to African American professionals that my community provided me growing up, in the form of professional development.

Career development and planning is a professional passion for me. Acquiring knowledge on how one can proactively improve their career and build a prominent network is of great interest to me. I believe there are unlimited possibilities for the higher education community to maximize the potential of the talented pool of African American student affairs professionals. In my twenty-five years while serving at five institutions I have discovered it is critical for higher education institutions to provide a campus community for African American students and students who identify with African American culture. I believe it is important for higher education institutions to provide a safe place for students to share their perspectives. I believe that the Regional IV-West African American Knowledge Community is considered as a trusted partner. A partnership that creates a sense of community, empowers colleagues, and recognizes accomplishments by African American student affairs professionals. It is important that this diverse population of student affairs professionals feels secure in sharing their unique perspectives. The AAKC is great conduit to build community amongst African American professionals in Region IV-West.

What Is the AAKC?

The AAKC Mission Statement:

The African American Knowledge Community (AAKC) increases members' awareness, knowledge, and appreciation for issues unique to African American professionals working in higher education and student affairs. The AAKC also seeks to educate the NASPA membership on trends and issues related to African American professionals and students through sharing information on research, campus issues and mentoring.

AAKC Goals:

-Professional Development


-Provide an Engaged Cultural Presence

National AAKC Signature Initiatives:

-AAKC Community Awards for graduate students, new professionals, mid-level professionals, and senior student affairs officers.

-AAKC Community Professional Mentoring Program

-AAKC Community Public Policy Briefs

-AAKC Community Webinars

In addition to the signature initiatives, there is a monthly newsletter providing information on professional accomplishments, policy news, and updates concerning the National NASPA Conference. As always, the AAKC will have a strong presence and robust agenda at the 2019 National NASPA Conference taking place March 9th through 13th, in Los Angeles, California. To ensure that you are receiving communication from the AAKC, and other Knowledge Communities, be sure to manage your communication preferences in your NASPA profile. When you are at your profile, go to the "quick links" section and click on "Set Email Notification Preferences." Scroll to the bottom where it says, "Knowledge Community, Division & Group, and Journal Communication Preferences" to select your preferred Knowledge Communities.

Involvement opportunities with Region IV-W:

-Assisting/Hosting a AAKC Networking Event in your geographic area

-Helping to develop, provide content and maintain Region IV-West social media account(s)

-Submitting content suggestions for Webinar topics

-Developing/Hosting a Drive-In Conference

-Attending the Region IV-West Conference, October 2019.

-Communicating with the Regional Representative on any ideas, concerns and job vacancies believed to be relevant to the Knowledge Community.

I'am excited about the possibilities that our Region IV-West AAKC community will bring in this new year. If you have any questions or thoughts on how you can contribute to our knowledge community, please contact me at [email protected]. Also please feel free to visit the AAKC NASPA site at https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/kcs/African-American.