Colonel Joe Henry Adkins, Jr.
I’m sure the last name tipped you off, but just in case it didn’t, Colonel Adkins is my father. In addition to being my father, he is a brother, a son, a friend and a leader in the United States Marine Corps. Born in Jacksonville, FL and moved to Orange, Texas at the age of eight after the passing of his Mother; Joe enlisted in “The Corps” at age 21 after completing two years of college at Lamar University.
Today he serves as an Officer at Norfolk Naval Base in the capacity of a Colonel in Aviation Logistics. Of the many values my father has instilled in me, respect is the one that stands the proudest. Not only the in the sense that is implied by his occupation but more so in his character.
My father is and his father was a traditional southern man raised in Texas. His values are simple, unwavering and focused. Respect is an action I was taught growing up and has become a noun closely associated with my father as I’ve grown. This is true for me because my father didn’t just tell me to show respect to myself, my family, my friends, the stranger I’d never met, he showed me. In his actions, choices and decisions, every single day.
In my junior year of my undergraduate degree at Radford University, I went looking for something more. Something I hadn’t yet found in my classes, my jobs, volunteer work or even in my sorority. I found that something in Delta Sigma Pi.
My parents weren’t thrilled to learn that I had chosen to pledge for another Greek society – mostly due to the time requirements and financial commitment it entailed. After all, the first pledging process I went through during my freshman year had cost me thousands of dollars and brought my 3.4 GPA down to a 2.9 overall. I couldn’t blame them.
This one was different though; it was an international coed business fraternity whose foundation had a purpose. This purpose was not only stated but it was practiced and witnessed in the actions of its members. I made it my purpose to show my parents, especially my Dad, this was where I belonged. My Dad had always shown me how important it was to associate with the kinds of people I aspired to be.
Little did I know, my “Big Brother” had upheld a fraternity tradition to update family members on our pledge process and progress and encouraged them to write a letter of affirmation to be read aloud after initiation. My letter came from my father.
My humble father who is usually a man of few words, took the time to write a letter to me stating how much he respected my decision to join a group of people who had purpose and integrity. The impact this letter had on me was so profound, it has served as a tangible reminder that surrounding myself with those that I aspire to be like, also means doing everything I can to model those characteristics as well.