Hakeem Folahan Akinleye was inspired by the work of Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. while growing up in Nigeria. He relocated to the United States with his parents in the fall of 2021 and started at Tidewater Community College the following spring.
“The ideals of Dr. King influenced me greatly. He was a great man who knew that if you want change you have to let your voice be heard,” Akinleye said. “He is one of the reasons I study hard and keep my grades up. I want to have an informed voice and help bring change where I can.”
Hakeem, 20, is the 2023 recipient of TCC’s Martin Luther King Jr. student scholarship, which will be presented during a ceremony on Jan. 17 at the Portsmouth Campus Student Center. The award, now in its 21st year, is designed to recognize a student who best exemplifies Dr. King’s vision and philosophy in his call for unity and equality for all.
“This award is going to have a huge impact on my life. It instills an even greater desire to do more for the next person,” he said.
“One thing I learned from Dr. King is that there is always a chance to do better. All it takes is determination and hard work and togetherness and we can make things as right as we want them to be.”
Hakeem holds a 4.0 GPA and is working on an Associate of Science in Science.
Hakeem helps his classmates as a science and math tutor. He also serves on the Student Government Association and helps with Portsmouth Campus events.
Future plans for Hakeem include nursing school and career dedicated to making a difference in the community.
“I have always been invested in the health sciences since I was little, and my interest only grows by the day. Also, considering how there are very few black male nurses in the country, I wish to try and change that,” Akinleye said. “I also feel like I’m representing my family by pursuing a career dedicated to helping people.”
Hakeem says his family is his biggest supporter. “My mom has always believed in me and pushed me. My brother also helps me and my dad motivates me to do better,” Akinleye said. “My extended family supports me, too, and they are all very proud. I am humbled and honored by it all.”