News Release, College of Southern Maryland

La Plata, MD- Micah Kay, a second-year psychology major at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), is the 2020 collegiate-level winner of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.®, Nu Zeta Omega Chapter’s MLK Day of Service Essay Contest. Results of the contest were announced Jan. 20 during the MLK Day of Service Program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“It is an honor to have received this award,” Kay said. “My father is a history junkie, and growing up I was scared of the dark history of Harlem, but this was a fresh taste to hear the positive stories of our history.”

Kay was doubly honored to receive the award sponsored through Alpha Kappa Alpha because his mother was a member of the sorority when she was in college.

Kay successfully wrote on the topic of “The Harlem Renaissance: Its Contributions and Its Challenges for Us Today.” The contestants were challenged to describe the lessons learned from the Renaissance and to apply the quote, “The past is prologue” to the relationship between the Harlem Renaissance and the present time with support from personal experiences.

College of Southern Maryland Men of Excellence Program Coordinator Tim Fenner, left, celebrates with CSM Student Micah Kay, center, as Kay is announced the collegiate winner of the AKA MLK Day of Service Essay by Nu Zeta Omega Chapter President Denise Barnes, right. (Submitted photo)

“The Harlem Renaissance was surely a golden age in the life of black people. Better yet, it was the introduction to what is still the golden age of black people. As in the Harlem Renaissance, African Americans are still thriving. Surely the statement “The past is prologue” can be easily applied to our African American community. It set the foundation that gave Martin Luther [King] and Rosa Parks the ability to build the first level of civil rights. It is this foundation upon which we have seen that when the right opportunity presents itself African Americans can naturally make the most of it.”

–Excerpt from Micah Kay’s essay on “The Harlem Renaissance: Its Contributions and Its Challenges for Us Today”

Kay is a member of the CSM’s “Men of Excellence,” a program established “to improve the recruitment, success, retention, graduation and transfer rates of African American males who enter as first-time, full- or part-time students at the college.” Men of Excellence Program Coordinator Tim Fenner was recognized during the MLK Day of Service program by AKA’s Nu Zeta Omega President Denise Barnes with a “Certificate of Achievement” for successfully challenging his students to compete in the essay contest.

Micah Kay

“I met Mr. Tim my first semester at CSM and have been involved with the Men of Excellence ever since,” Kay said. “Men of Excellence has shown me that there are good people in the world. (As a society) we are in some rough times right now, and it’s good to know that there are people around you striving for greatness.”

The essay contest was open to both high school and college-level students. The essay was sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.®, Nu Zeta Omega Chapter in conjunction with the Ivy and Pearls of Southern Maryland Community Charities, Inc. Denise Barnes serves as president of the sorority and the charities.

Kay received a “Certificate of Achievement” and a $100 award.

About Men of Excellence

The program is designed to empower students to meet their academic and professional goals, and provide an array of services meant to increase student engagement, as well as encourage community-building among all participants. By partnering with offices throughout Student Equity and Success and Academic Affairs, the program assists students with mapping their academic, personal and professional goals, and developing leadership skills increasing their capacity for educational success. For information, contact Fenner at or 301-539-4743.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...