Outstanding Young Alumni Award
N.J. Akbar ‘07, ‘09 After receiving a master’s and bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan, N.J. has gone on to become a leading national authority on student affairs and diversity, his EMU education having laid the groundwork for such success. He earned his M.A. in educational leadership for higher education student affairs after graduating with a BA in history & language literature and writing for secondary education.
He now serves as an assistant dean, academic diversity success, at Kent State University. In that position, his broad responsibilities include providing leadership and vision for academic diversity retention efforts for all 10 colleges, along with developing and marketing retention and recruitment programs for Kent State. His key accomplishments include devising an academic diversity success service campaign, “I am Success,” that promotes the university’s students as the definition of success, and securing approximately $300,000 in external funding for Kent State’s academic diversity efforts.
N.J. began at Kent State in 2009, and he has also served as the director of the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development in the university’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, beginning that role at age 28; and as the assistant director of student success programs there.
N.J., who grew up in Detroit and was salutatorian at Detroit Central High school, enjoys mentoring young people, especially those from low-income families and those facing academic difficulty, as he can relate to their life experiences. He was instrumental in developing the framework for the Esquire Leadership and Mentoring Program in Ann Arbor, and Alpha Core of Excellence Program in Akron, Ohio.
N.J.’s myriad leadership roles and honors include being named Brother of the Year five times for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In 2016, he was named the Harold K. Stubbs Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts in education, one of the top awards given in the city of Akron. In 2017, he was honored as a Significant African American Male by the Ohio Black Women’s Leadership Caucus of Akron.