Turning Challenges Into Triumphs, From Detroit to Akron Board of Education

It was a defining moment for 35-year-old N.J. Akbar, Ph.D., on the day the Detroit native turned Akron resident was publicly recognized for earning his doctoral degree. A moment that almost didn’t happen.

“It was surreal, but it was also numbing,” Akbar told WKYC. He earned his doctorate in Cultural Foundations of Education from Kent State University where he serves as an Assistant Dean in Kent’s University College while simultaneously holding the Vice Presidency position of the Akron Board of Education.

Akbar grew up in poverty in Detroit’s 48204 neighborhood, an area once considered one of the most dangerous in the U.S.

As he was pursuing his Ph.D, the unexpected happened. “My mother passed away in 2017, and you know I almost quit the program because I just went into a deep depression,” says Akbar.

But his dissertation supervisor, Vilma Seeberg, Ph.D, wouldn’t allow this go-getter to stop going. With Seeberg’s encouragement, Akbar went on to finish his Ph.D, and a few months later was elected to the Akron Board of Education.

See the full story of N.J. Akbar’s journey at WKYC

POSTED: Friday, February 7, 2020 - 4:53pm
UPDATED: Friday, February 7, 2020 - 4:53pm
Jennifer Boyd