A Bronzeville native and King College Prep alumnus, Joseph Spaulding became a Wentcher Scholar in 2022 when he accepted an offer at Truman State University.
Passionate about tech from a young age, Joseph currently majors in Computer Science. When asked what his favorite aspect of computer science is, Joseph tells us it’s the straightforwardness and limitless possibilities that draws him in. “Whatever you tell the computer to do, it will do it, and you can create all types of stuff.” For example, he tells us that in fourth grade he created a computer virus for the technology fair at his elementary school which jump started his interest. In school now he is currently working on how to input data structure into various codes, which means he has definitely come a long since the fourth grade. While Joseph enjoys Computer Science, he doesn’t deny that the major comes with some challenges. He says that having a full understanding of the code can sometimes be difficult. This presents challenges because in order to place the code correctly you have to fully understand the purpose and function of it. Misplacing the code has the potential to destroy an entire project.
Computer Science is a very time consuming major. However, Joseph works hard to maintain an academic and social life balance. In particular, he has recently joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity on his campus. Kappa Alpha Psi, founded January 5, 1911 at Indiana University is one of several Black fraternities included in the historic Divine Nine Greek organizations. A staple in African-American culture, these organizations are historic because they were founded during a time when Black people were being denied rights and privileges afforded to others. The racial discrimination Black people faced on predominantly white college campuses created a need for community and the opportunity for Black college students to connect with others that shared common goals. Like other fraternities and sororities and fraternities the basis of the Divine Nine groups is community service and paying it forward.
Similar to his interest in computer science, Joseph’s interest in becoming a Kappa started at an early age. His father and other family members are Kappas, and he grew up watching them be active members. In high school he joined Kappa League, which is a mentoring program that exposes young black men to opportunities that expand their horizons like mock trials and traveling abroad. Kappa League also reinforces the importance of giving back to the community as the organization does. Because Joseph was a member of Kappa League all four years in high school, he understood the expectations of the organization which made it easier on him when he began his pledge journey. As a current member, his favorite parts about being a Kappa is giving back as well as meeting different people from all over the country. With over 150,000 members with 721 undergraduate and alumni chapters, the Kappa network is huge, and one of the benefits of being a member is that you gain connections with other members from all of the country in various stages of life having major successes in their careers. For Joseph, getting the opportunity to meet experienced professionals at their conferences and seeing Black men succeed inspires him greatly. Although Joseph enjoys being a Kappa, he notes that being a member comes with some challenges as well. At Truman state the Kappa network is smaller so they have a swing, or combined chapter with Culver Stockton College. With the total number of new members being just three, Joseph was the only person from Truman State to pledge Kappa in 2022. This is hard because as the only person on campus representing the new line of Kappa members all of the responsibilities of new members on Truman State’s campus fall on him.
However, he said that older members on Truman State’s campus have been very accommodating in terms of helping Joseph navigate this. While it is a larger test of Joseph’s commitment to the organization, Joseph says that the silver lining of having a smaller group is that you learn a lot more about your specific chapter of the fraternity and it reinforces the brotherhood aspect of being a member.
In addition to academics and being a Kappa, Joseph keeps himself active on campus by being a member of Truman State’s football team. With all of those things on his plate, time management is very important to Joseph. He said that being able to prioritize in terms of time commitment has become really helpful for him. As the only Kappa at Truman State, he only has to participate in one community service event and meeting a month therefore he places his academics first, football second, and being a Kappa last.
In the future Joseph is looking forward to getting an internship in tech his junior year. Ultimately he hopes to become a software engineer. In addition to working to create his own application, gaming, and computer software he wants to work to be able to design hardware as well. In terms of Kappa Alpha Psi, Joseph is excited about the upcoming conference with all of the chapters, helping initiate the newest members on his campus, and hosting community service events like the pageant in April that Kappa hosts to give young women on their campus a chance to win scholarships.
We asked Joseph if he had any advice for anyone looking to get into computer science or pledge a fraternity, and he had a lot to say! For those interested in choosing computer science as their major, Joseph suggests that you should be passionate about it. “Be passionate about it and actually learn the material because with computer science it is very easy to fall behind.” He notes the importance of attending every class, but also having fun with it because it’s a fun major. For those interested in pledging a fraternity, Joseph suggests doing your research beforehand. “ Know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s an opportunity to have a step up in life in terms of having resources and having a network to help you with what you need.”
We at the Wentcher Foundation are very proud of Joseph’s accomplishments so far, and we can’t wait to see where his undergraduate career takes him!