Norman Markland loves school. After earning a bachelors in kinesiology, a masters in adult and higher education and a second masters in rehabilitative counseling, this is clear. The father and lifelong learner talks to Brandy about the natural desire to be connected to something. Whether it’s a fraternity, friend group, or gang, people long for community. Norman highlights how his choice of community has impacted the trajectory of his life. He’s seen intelligent peers fall into trouble aided by the influence of the company they kept, meanwhile organizations like TRIO, Student Support Services, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. prepared him to become one of the youngest directors of an Upward Bound program in the nation at the age of 25. Armed with his experiences of poverty, urban education, and successfully navigating academia, Norman’s developed a passion for helping students understand the importance of community and how their environments have shaped them, even subconsciously, to be who they are while empowering them to be who they’ll become.