Going to an Historically Black College or University should resonate an honorable, confident, and proud feeling to any student that walks foot onto one. There are many schools one could choose from, but any HBCU will welcome all with open arms and make you feel at home. My father, William M. Akin III, found his home in 1978 when he decided to attend Kentucky State University. It was there he learned many life skills, focused on his career path, and made countless lifelong networks.
Below is the dialogue of my interview with Mr. Akin:
Q: Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
A: I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I had two strong parents and was raised with the church. I am a family of 8. My upbringing was really good, as I had an on-hands father and mother. They were disciplinarians. So, when we got into trouble, we had to be talked to “or handled.” We were very together, as we did things as a family.
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the man you are today?
A: Without hesitation, my father! My father was my hero. I learned so many fascists of life through him. He was an inspirator. He led by example. It is because of him that I am where I am today. He was a teacher, an electrician, and a man of faith. He was the kind of person you gravitate to. He had an uncanny sense of humor. He was very bright, smart, and articulate. I never thought I could fill his shoes.
Q: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in High School/College?
A: I received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Kentucky State University. Before I got to college, I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I was good at helping people with problems. I was a good person to talk to when you had troubles with home, relationships, etc. I thought I would be good at that, so that is why I pursued social work and psychology. And going to an HBCU, Kentucky State University, changed my life. It was a hands-on situation at a black college. There is nothing I would have changed about it. Kentucky State was and is the love of my heart still. That is my alma matter and that is where I laid my tracks.
Q: Can you tell us of your job/education experience prior to what you’re doing now?
A: Wow! That is a good question! Well after I finished college, I was trying to find something in my field. But I kept getting turned down. I was actually considering joining the service, but I ended up here (New Jersey). I worked in my field maybe for about six months. But I ended up working all kinds of jobs, as I’ve had about 17 jobs since I came to New Jersey. I’ve worked for Revlon, FedEx, and UPS. I have done a lot, but I decided to go back to school, and that is where I pursued information technology. Which leads me to my job today, which I am the help desk manager at the Board of Public Utilities for the state of New Jersey.
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or so years ago?
A: Prior to coming into my job, that I have now had for 18 years, no. You couldn’t look through a crystal ball and told me that I would be in technology. Absolutely not!
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Eventually, I want to have my own computer company. I also would like to work with film and cameras to make little films with pictures. I want to do it for like weddings and family. After I get you through school, this is something I would like to pursue.
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?
A: Excellent question! I would inform them to find something they like to do. Even if you are undecided, don’t get stuck in a rut or don’t get stuck on one thing. There are many things you can do. If you are a communicator, do something in communications. If you are someone like me, you are a visual learner. There are so many things out here, but you have to find something that you are passionate about. I think someone, at a university, should check out other classes and things they have to offer. You should also talk to your professors and guidance counselors. Get passionate about something and don’t waste it!
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: Too expensive! And I think it is a shame to be the richest nation in the world, and you have folks that can’t afford to go to school. I think that is a crime within itself. That is only my opinion.
Q: Have you ever travelled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?
A: I have been to Jamaica for my honeymoon. And I found Jamaica to be very laid back. I did go into the inner-city and see how life worked and how they do things there. Everybody is trying to chase after the dollar. Being a tourist, some people come at you trying to get money. But I found it very relaxing.
Q: What does the future hold for America?
A: I think if America gets her act together, the future holds a great deal. I think once they figure out this divisive nature they are in, all of this hatred going on, and until people come together, things will remain the same.
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of the American democracy?
A: If politics was fair, I would be game to get into politics. But as I stated before, I am 60 years old. I have seen it, and I don’t see a great change. It is just a crooked business. Unfortunately, they are supposed to be there for the people, but they’re not there for the people. And I just think that it is a crime itself. A lot of things need to change in politics. And the thing about politics today is that you want to fill people’s pockets. It is just unfair how things work out. And the people that get hurt are the poor.
Q: How are you responding to the outbreak of the Convid-19 virus?
A: In the beginning, very tough and nervous about it. I was nervous for our family. It is just a nervous situation. It takes away our normalcy way of life. Uncertainty, depression, and unknown. As you know, I am nervous when you go out because I don’t know what your doing. And I know you get nervous when your mom and I go out as well. It is just really bad all over right now.
Q: What keeps you going during these trying times?
A: My faith. My belief in God. My family.
Q: How can the government better handle the situation?
A: Be truthful with the American people. Stop the lies. Be more restrictive and instead of worrying about the economy, lets handle folks lives first. If you don’t have people, what is an economy if everyone is gone?
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
A: One of my favorite hobbies used to be playing basketball. But I have gained weight and gotten older since then. I do miss it though and eventually want to get back to it. I love movies. I love to color. I love to play backgammon. I love to read, when time permits. And I just like being with my family.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward?
A: I think you go through some of your own life experiences and things that you have learned. Try to keep stress out your life. Talk things out with people, whether it is your family, friends, or coworkers. It is very good to keep open communication with folks. It is okay to be alone sometimes, but you do not want to spend too much time alone. You have to communicate how you are feeling. You might not be having a good day. But it is always good to laugh. I love to laugh. It really does good for your heart.
Q: Let us end this interview with a memorable quote from you. How would you describe yourself to the world?
A: I am a funny guy! I love to laugh! I love to make people laugh! I love humor!
My father, as you read above, takes pride in his school, his work ethic, his family, and his community. Mr Akin’s Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Kentucky State University led him to his current job today, where he is helping and leading others in the field of technology. Even a former HBCU student can tell you that his experiences and life long connections ultimately set him on a great path to success.