In the fall of 2011, Professor Hasaan A. Kirkland, MFA, — academic adviser and faculty in the Visual and Performing Arts Program of Johnson C. Smith University — realized that a plausible measure of honor bestowed upon a student’s creative spirit encouraged and amplified their desire to rise to the task. As a practicing artist, and professor of studio art and contextual art history, Professor Kirkland realized that the scholastic and intellectual achievement at the formative stage of a student’s collegiate program could provide the catalyst for critical creative achievement in their future. Supporting this effort in a student’s college experience was paramount, as it assisted in one’s ability to achieve success and their desired career objectives. Professor Kirkland founded the VPA Orientation Program week and a student organization, known as Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society. These two resources were produced entirely to honor those dedicated student artists in the visual and performing arts that, while adroitly handling their life responsibilities, achieved and maintained high scholastic standards.
In 2011, the concept of the VPA Orientation Week was recognized by the core VPA faculty and accepted for its instruction, foundation, and purpose to instill in its students a pledge, academic standard, and commitment for the visual and performing arts. The student group honor society was also vetted, approved, and supported by the administration of Johnson C. Smith University.
Both efforts, regarding the support and vision for the Visual and Performing Arts Program, have been recognized and allowed participation into the fabric of scholastic honor, the community of expression, leadership, servitude, and the encouragement of student creative professional development.
On February 1, 2012 Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society was established at Johnson C. Smith University. In the same year the Student Group Honor Society inducted its first two classes into the ranks of its membership. With honors, all student group inductee classes will forever hold a valuable place in the history of this student group honor society, the national society, as well as the history of its host institution.
On February 25th, 2012, the first inductee class included Ms. Sophia Brown, Mr. El Haaj Fernanders, Mr. Charles Hauser, and Mr. Spencer Whittington. These students are to be recognized as the first students to participate in the Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society.
On October 18, 2012, the second inductee class included Ms. Johanna Aloise, Mr. Aaron Beitia, Ms. Maddisyn Blue, Mr. Roderick Bradford, Ms. Brianna Goode, Ms. Jessica Markham, and Mr. Carlos Venegas.
On October 30, 2013 the third inductee class included Ms. Zuleyma Castrejon-Salinas, Ms. Njeri Rutherford, Mr. Andrew Smith, Ms. Surya Swilley, and Ms. Tia Wash.
Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society conducted an annual community canned food drive and established a partnership Sickle Cell Partners for the Carolinas as a few of its community service actions. The purpose was to help orient the students to civic responsibility and share in supporting our fellow citizens with either food, clothing, man power, research, or visual and performing arts.
On February 7th, 2014, Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society held its very first student event. An All Black Affair was held at the Arts Factory at 8pm. This event promoted the student group honor society to other visual performing arts students, as well as campus wide students. The event displayed visual art created by its members, conducted a painting workshop, had photo opportunities, and displayed a promotional video of the organization.
With reverent symbolism, purpose, and academic applause, the Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society mirrors its familiar predecessors of collegiate national acclaim found in cohort to the Association of College Honor Societies.
Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Student Group Honor Society is adorned with a crest that symbolizes the protection against a world where ignorance, apathy, hopelessness, the lack of vision, and the absence of original creative expression exists. This protection is provided by creative thinking, historical research, and contemporary thought. The crest’s color pattern and emblems together symbolize the message of concentrated artistic research and the ascension of academic intellectual expression.
This honor and recognition establishes a mentality, drive, and acceptance to the regard of excellence and leadership. A standard of artistic and intellectual character, discipline, and courage precede efforts of community service, academic excellence, and the desire to create.
On August 25th, 2014 the organization gained its documentation and articles of incorporation from the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State; it is this date that this student group transcended into the auspice of a national honor society. It is on this date, and henceforth, that Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Honor Society became a national honor society. August 25, 2014 will be the founding date of Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Honor Society.
On October 30, 2014 the fourth class was inducted; included was Ms. Navil Alizando, Ms. Thando Dlomo, Ms. Marrisa Duff, Ms. Ebony Jackson, Ms. Christina Morrison, and Ms. Eileen Young.
Psi Rho Alpha chartered its first collegiate chapter at Johnson C. University on May 5, 2015. This chapter will be understood as the Alpha Chapter of Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Honor Society.
October 30, 2015 the fifth inductee class of students included Ms. Chelsea Bradford, Mr. Joseph Burch, Mr. Drew Emerson, Ms. Amina Kane, Ms. Tia Greene, Ms. Dasha McKisic, Mr. Charles Johnson, Mr. Shelton Johnson, and Mr. DaRon Spence. Professors Cynthia Cole and Sitara Sadler also joined the National Organization, as its first professional members at large.
On this date, all other students from the student group honor society were grandfathered into Psi Rho Alpha Visual and Performing Arts Honor Society as official members of this national organization.
Psi Rho Alpha held its first Art Career Development Symposium for the Charlotte community and its members, on Nov 13, 2016. The one-day event consisted of speakers, panel discussions by notable art professionals, entertainment, and a platform where students exhibited, performed, and presented their research to a professional audience. The founder sponsored scholarship, The Hasaan A. Kirkland Developing Artist Scholarship, was introduced and presented to the student with the highest score on a list of evaluated criteria. Ms. Brooklyn Miller was the first recipient of this $500 cash award. It was an important exercise in scholarship, career affirmation, and providing visible and tangible resources for both students in the visual and performing arts, as well as for members.
Psi Rho Alpha endeavors to continue its early developments toward expansion and continued progression toward impacting college campuses across the South East Region and across the country.