Family Connell Akande (father), Anthonia Akande (mother), Tolu Akande (younger brother)
What he did at Holy Cross "At Holy Cross, I took advantage of as many activities as possible. I was a running back on the football team, a multicultural peer educator (MPE), a peer mentor, a resident assistant and a political science major. It was because of my respect and love of teamwork and human interaction that I sought out these activities, and it was because of my positive experience in these groups that I decided that my life had to incorporate meaningful relationship building on a daily basis."
How Holy Cross affected his life "Holy Cross was and is very influential in my life. You hear it all four years: 'Men and women for others,' but for me it made the most sense post-diploma. When you've obtained the responsibilities of adulthood and it's easiest to worry only about yourself, how do you include the circumstances of others into your decision-making? How do you think critically and have compassion for others? I feel more in touch with my business, my community and the world at large because of the small life lessons that have been instilled in me at Holy Cross."
The working life "I am currently a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, Lululemon ambassador and amateur boxer. I thank God that I no longer work-rather, I play for a living. It's not play because I take clients through workouts or still compete athletically. It's play because I love what I do and am fully immersed into the success of my client or class. Their struggles and accomplishments are mine, and I'm blessed to not punch a clock; instead I hang out with my friends-one session at a time."
Why he stays connected to Holy Cross "I stay connected because there is something about the Hill that shapes your life's opportunities and way of thinking. I was afforded a number of opportunities in my life because of my connection to Holy Cross. It may have been the connection to other alumni, the appeal of the Jesuit education or the appreciation from graduates of Patriot League rivals. This is still the case six years from departing the Cross. Furthermore, Holy Cross humbles you in a way that not only allows you to appreciate how you've become who you are, but also to appreciate how others have become who they are. As a result, you tend to ask, 'How do we live together?' It's that kind of thinking that changes the world and has changed me."
Why he believes in Holy Cross "I believe in HC because HC believed in me. I was an 18-year-old kid who never left the Midwest and didn't know how to pronounce Worcester correctly. I didn't fit the mold of the average Holy Cross graduate, yet I was welcomed, made to feel at home and encouraged to do and be anything I dreamed of. It was this feeling of inclusion and love that resonates with me and I'm sure with many more like me."
Why he gives to Holy Cross "I was given the opportunity to play Division 1 football and earn a degree that has changed and shaped my future. The Holy Cross education is one that my family valued but couldn't afford without significant financial assistance. It was because of the generous provisions of others that I was afforded the academic, athletic and developmental experience of a lifetime. If I could pay back those who gave generously so that I could attend Holy Cross, I'm sure they would ask me to pay it forward. That is why I give to Holy Cross." ■