One man’s journey from civilian student to military leader
Written by Kittell Henderson Jr.
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Those events led me to originally wanting to enlist in the Army to serve the country right after High School, after an extensive deliberation and discussion with my parents we agreed to start college first and consider the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) later. I knew this was dear to their hearts because I could be the first in the family to graduate college but I had no idea what I wanted to study. Uncertain of what I would study in 2003 I began my Freshman year of college with ambitions of being a Computer Engineer however, after my first year I knew my passion was still joining the military, at the time did not know what program of study would support that.
The Summer of 2004, I made the decision to join the Army Reserve which enabled me to join the military and still complete college then I went off to Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia for nine weeks. When I returned for my sophomore year I joined the Army ROTC program and I met with my academic advisor to discuss changing my major she advised before I did that I should talk to Dr. James Witte in the Adult Education program who was retired military.
After a conversation with him, I knew Education and Training was where my heart was and it would serve me well if I was planning on going into the Army after I completed College.
In the fall of 2007, I became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Incorporated, Omicron Kappa Chapter. Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell.
While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African-Americans. Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through leaders such as: W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and many others.
I never had any intentions on joining a fraternity however, after doing my research of their core values and realized the principles aligned with who wanted to be as man, I knew I wanted to be a part of something as great as this organization.
The summer following graduation in 2008 I was selected to serve as a counselor for the Summer Transition Enhancement Program (STEP), which was a residential program where highly motivated students take place on the main campus, and we help emphasize academic preparedness.
Development and enhancement of study and time management skills. Knowing my father’s history, never meeting his parents it was important to volunteer my time while I was in college and I was a “Big Brother” mentor to set of twin boys. This was important enough to find the time to do because I do not know where I would be if I did not have positive role models in my life to help nudge and keep me on track. The mother kept in touch with me after I left Auburn and I am proud to say they both went on to graduate from Auburn High School and go to college.
In 2012, my father passed away and my Auburn family immediately reached out and supported me when they heard the news. Little did we know my father’s life lessons would play an influential role into the development of the brand Stō•ik.
The core principles encompass intellectual empowerment and uplifting the community. What started out as just project to help others deal with life’s hardships and tough loss blossomed into Apparel, Digital Photography Gallery, Fashion, Life Quotes, and Philanthropy.
In summary, Stō•ik is based on that mindset of surviving; you must be willing to be selfless, open-minded and put your faith in what you know. To be Stō•ik, you mold yourself -emotionally, mentally and physically to handle all obstacles and tribulations that may come your way.
I graduated in 2008 with my bachelors in Adult Education, commissioned into the Army, and have younger brother Jessie T. Henderson who graduated from Auburn in 2013. I am an active duty officer currently stationed in the Washington D.C. area.
I owe my success in life to God, friends, family, people I met at Auburn and Dr. Witte’s leadership and guidance helping me find my way and completing my bachelor’s degree at Auburn, it inspired me to continue my education and complete my Masters at Argosy University in Educational Leadership in 2013. I am currently in the dissertation phase of completing my Ed.D in Post-Secondary Education with a concentration in Teaching and Learning.