May 25, 2018

Abiodun — Northwest valedictorian 2018

Abiodun Emmanuel Akinseye, 2018 valedictorian, Northwest Community High School.

Most high school valedictorians will tell you that being at the top of their class is a lifelong goal, but that isn’t true for Abiodun Emmanuel Akinseye.

Though he was already at the top of his class, Abiodun didn’t consider the importance of being valedictorian and wasn’t making any particular effort to have his school’s highest GPA. Until a conversation with a former Northwest Community High School student and friend gave him the inspiration he needed.

Raj Magan, who fell short of the valedictorian spot two years ago but graduated as salutatorian, asked Abiodun to finish the job he couldn’t.

“(Raj) said to me, ‘You are better than me, and I want you to do what I couldn’t.’ It became important to me to stay on top because I knew I worked hard in high school and wanted to show it,” said Abiodun.

Raj’s words of inspiration also helped Abiodun in his battle with clinical depression, which he calls “a daily battle.” Abiodun has fought through self-esteem issues and anxiety to reach this loftiest of high school academic goals. “Sometimes I feel as if I get the worst parts of life,” he said.

He plans on channeling those experiences into his immediate educational plans, and hopefully his career. Abiodun will major in psychology at Butler University this fall in hopes of helping people who suffer childhood traumas or battle mental illnesses. “I want to understand people and how to properly help them,” he said.

When he’s not buckling down and studying, Abiodun is playing the role of artist and athlete. He enjoys soccer, drawing and playing video games because they help him express himself physically and mentally. “I enjoy reading, writing, creating and imagining,” he said.

Abiodun credits Genevieve McLeish-Petty, his favorite teacher, for her counsel. “She’s an advisor and a friend,” he said. “She has helped me through many of my personal issues, and makes talking easy. I don’t feel like I have to dumb myself to talk to her.”

But it’s the diversity at IPS that he praises most.

“They embrace and encourage cultural involvement in the community and school,” said Abiodun. “IPS helped me fit in and find friends and find myself in an unexpected support system.”

It is this support system that has helped Abiodun grow as a person, unafraid to show his vulnerable side. He’s learned that it’s okay to show weakness, and says if he had any advice for future IPS students, it would be to rely on their support system at school.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Abiodun. “Don’t try too hard to please others. Don’t try too hard not to fail. You always have support in IPS teachers, and thinking you’re alone won’t get you far.”