After the death of his wife, Don Terrell, 68, embarked on a journey of healing and living his life to the fullest by achieving lifetime goals he once put off to be a devoted husband and father to four daughters.

BlavityU had the chance to speak with Terrell about becoming a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity in his 60s, what he learned from the organization and what life has taught him thus far.

Celebrating five years of being a Kappa, Terrell said it was always on his list of things to accomplish.

“It’s been a lifelong dream. I wanted to join when I was an undergraduate at Kent State University, but I didn’t have the proper understanding of what Greek organizations meant,” Terrell said when reflecting on his college years.

Always interested in being a part of a Black organization, Terrell shared how he and a classmate planned to start an on-campus club that educated students on Afrocentric foundations, but life took a turn for Terrell, prompting him to leave his education behind.

“Actually, a friend of mine and I were almost going to start another organization based on the African Foundation, but as time went on, I dropped out of school, got married, had children, and always dreamt of having an association with a Greek organization,” Terrell said.

Wanting to finish what he started, Terrell went back to school to obtain his Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University in 2008.

“Once I put my education on hold, and I was able to get back in school and graduate — I just needed to join because I wanted to finish or accomplish what I started off doing,” he said.

“Also, after I put my 42 years in at General Motors when I retired, I wanted to belong. I wanted to become active. I wanted to do things. So I looked at the Black fraternities, and the Kappas ironically approached me,” he added.

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Terrell refers to Black Organizations as Black liberation, a tool to bring the Black community together.

It’s “real simple, it’s Black liberation,” Terrell said when describing what Black organizations mean to him at this current stage in his life.

“We don’t have many Black organizations, strong organizations. One of the main organizations is the Black churches,” Terrell said.

“Greek organizations, I feel, are right up there, close to Black churches. And there’s only, like, a handful of black organizations that have a common unity, a unified organization that can bring the Black community together and informs the community as well,” he said.

Outside of wanting a college experience for himself, Terrell ensured that all four of his daughters attended and graduated from four different HBCUs.

Courtesy of the Terrell family

Terrell and his late wife knew the importance of funding and supporting Black organizations and Colleges. His daughters each picked an institution that fit their personalities.

“This is a strange story. Before any of my children started College, I think this was back in the 80s. Me and my wife would always catch the national news, 7 p.m. news. And it seemed like every week; we were hearing about Black HBCUs or Black colleges in financial trouble and closing or being taken over by the state. Me and my wife looked at each other and said, ‘wow, that is crazy,” he said.

“We can’t afford to lose our Black colleges. All we have is the Church and our Black colleges and universities,” Terrell said, explaining why HBCUs were a must in his household.

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Throughout the trajectory of his life, Terrell has learned to embrace the life changes but, most importantly, has reflected on what he would have done differently if given a chance.

“In high school and school in general. I wish I would have paid more attention,” he said. “I wish I coined this, but, as I got older, I realized that life is full of challenges, and I kind of coined a word like ’embrace the challenge no matter how hard it is.”

“And if I had listened to the wisdom and direction that I was given at a younger age and absorbed as much knowledge and information that was out there and more mentorship,” he continued. “I would love to have someone just be a mentor, and help me navigate besides my parents. Because back then, your parents only were so knowledgeable about the intricacies of higher education and skillsets, and stuff like that,”

Congratulations Terrell on writing your next chapters all on your own!