Anyah Akanni is a woman fueled by her passion. The 21-year-old Chicago native found her path to Northwestern University through the Evans Scholars Foundation. Like most first-year students, Akanni wanted to establish a sense of community in her new environment. Not even knowing that FMO was Northwestern’s Black Student Alliance until her sophomore year, Akanni felt as though she wasn’t the “right type of Black person” or didn’t have the “right Black experience” to penetrate the group.
Undaunted, Akanni made the decision to run for FMO coordinator at the end of her junior year. The platform that won her the position then remains her main goal to this day: to make FMO less of an executive board and more of a union accessible to all Black students.
“It’s necessary at this institution, that is predominantly white, to have some type of community built amongst our different ways of being Black,” Akanni says.
As coordinator, Akanni says her biggest responsibilities are to cultivate community engagement, facilitate conversations about diversity, and connect different Black leaders to each other.
Since her freshman year, Akanni has grown a lot within her various identities and how she views herself. Now a senior majoring in political science and psychology, the Black, female, queer, first-generation college student has come to realize so many things that are pertinent to her character, and that’s where she finds her motivation, she says.
“I’m just really driven to affect some change within these identity groups and for these identity groups,” Akanni says.
As her time at Northwestern comes to a close, Akanni leaves a message for the Black underclassmen that may find themselves in the position she was in a few years ago: “The community is there, but it takes all of us to build it.”