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Opeyemi Akanji: BMCC's 2009 Valedictorian

May 5, 2009

Opeyemi Akanji journeyed to New York from his native Nigeria two years ago for the express purpose of getting a college education.  He’ll be here for as long as it takes to complete his education in his chosen field—computer science. But ultimately, he plans to return home and play a role in Africa’s ongoing economic development.

Akanji wasn’t the first member of his family to study in the U.S. “My sister was already here when I arrived,” he recalls. “She had attended Baruch and then gone on to a good job after she graduated, so she encouraged me to apply to a college in the CUNY system.” 

First things first
Akanji was accepted at Hunter and City Tech, but opted for BMCC because he wanted to pursue an Associates degree before tackling a Bachelors. “That way, I can graduate and get some real-world experience first,” he says. Upon graduating this spring, he hopes to do a summer internship before transferring to a senior college.

Akanji has excelled academically throughout his three semesters at BMCC and is a member of both the Out in Two Scholarship Club and Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for students at two-year colleges. He is also active in the Cyber Security Club, which helps educate students on protecting themselves against computer viruses and malicious software, and in the African Students Club, which promotes African culture on campus. In large measure he attributes his success to his professors, “who have encouraged their students to think outside the box, ask questions and do independent research.”

Going home
Once he’s completed his undergraduated studies, Akanji hopes to earn a Masters degree in software engineering and then return to Africa and start a company that designs software programs tailored to the needs of African companies.

“Africans still depend on foreign-made software, which often doesn’t work properly—because it doesn’t understand local languages or align with local specifications,” he says. “When things go wrong, it’s often difficult to get software assistance or customer service without flying in specialists from abroad. I feel I can make a contribution by creating programs locally—and making sure they meet local needs.”

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