Akintokunbo Akinbajo: Getting involved and staying involved at the University at Albany
By Liz Filardi, freshman, English major/Spanish minor
“Commencement is only a new beginning of my relationship with UAlbany as I am transcending from being a student to being an alumnus. I have no choice but to give back to the school that has enriched my undergraduate career so completely.”
I met Akintokunbo in a crowded campus coffee shop for our interview. Though I had inquired about him to other people and knew that I had heard his name around campus, the only details that I had gathered about him prior to our interview was that he was a Residential Assistant on Indian quad, and that he was a tall, strong African American man. However, as he wandered into the café, not quite sure whom he was looking for, I knew exactly why so many people had described him in the same manner. I approached Tokunbo as a complete stranger, but was immediately impressed with his ability to give a firm handshake, look me in the eye, and carry out a professional interaction, which initially seems like basic conduct. Perhaps I was so impressed because I knew that Tokunbo understood the absolute importance of these details and their underrated use in society. Furthermore, as the interview progressed, it became clear to me that he valued respect for the individual immensely.
Tokunbo, a senior majoring in political science and minoring in business administration, expressed great gratification for the life that he has formed at UAlbany, but not without acknowledging that through his hard work he had reached his goals. Like many upperclassmen have said, he confirmed that in order to be fully satisfied with one’s experience, one must seek out interests and become involved in student life. Tokunbo was not hesitant in articulating his own accomplishments – affirmative action director of the Student Association, past president of the Pre-Law Association, and current president of the highly prestigious Alpha Phi Alpha African American Greek fraternity, whose prominent alumni include Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, and Duke Ellington to name a few. He is also the recipient of a Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence.
“It’s a two-way street,” says Tokunbo, offering advice on how to become connected to the campus community. “You share your knowledge with people and they will share with you.” He expressed the importance of building a network of friends and associates, because it is the only way to fully experience the resources that Albany has to offer. For instance, Podium Day, Tokunbo explains, is an event sponsored by the National Pan Hellenic Council, which features a number of the fraternities and sororities that make up Albany’s African American Greek Community. Participants range from alumni living in Albany to new students who are interested in getting involved. The prominence of this event and other multi-cultural events taking place on campus make UAlbany an immensely diverse campus. Tokunbo enthusiastically explained his appreciation for the “effort to increase diversity and raise awareness and unity across the line of color, ethnicity, religion, etc.” and its increasingly positive effect on the student body.
Looking forward to Law School, which was evidently the logical next step for this Renaissance man, Tokunbo plans on keeping in touch with the community that he has become so close to at UAlbany.