Photo and Story by Donell Maxie
To say Henry Akaeze is an impressive young man is an understatement. When the Nigerian born 22-year old landed in the Washington airport two-years ago he thought he would return the same as he landed, he was mistaken.
The computer science and mathematics major at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) has accomplished much in his short time in America and now he has added one more thing as he was recently awarded an internship with Apple.
Akaeze will serve on the ISO Productivity OCOGS Team and reporting to Charles Kalko. The effective start date will be May 22-August 11, 2017.
Akaeze came on the Apple radar while attending the 28th Annual Thurgood Marshall College Fund Awards Gala in November of 2016.
While there he delivered a five-minute speech about his life and his struggles as well as his accomplishments. The reaction from the audience was a standing ovation and afterwards he heard Apple was looking for him.
Due to the attention he received from his successful speech, Akaeze was unable to connect with Apple on that evening, but before the Christmas break he was contacted by Apple and informed he was accepted, but would have to interview for the internship.
“Three teams from Apple contacted me, but due to my international student status only two could interview me because the other was for U.S. students only. Both teams offered me the internship so I choose the ISO team. This team is the creative part of Apple working on products for the future,” he said.
Akaeze’s life journey has been one of struggle and grief. At six years old, he lost his mother to cancer, and at the age of 13 his father passed away due to complications from diabetes. He’s the youngest of eight children.
“Losing my mom was hard, but we kept going with our dad, but then around 2007 things happened with my dad and he passed away. I was offered admission from Valley, but when I replied it was too late. They informed me they had given my scholarship away, but I decided to come anyway on faith and believing that God would do something,” explained Akaeze.
“With the help of Executive Vice President Jerryl Briggs I was able to get my scholarship back. Seeing what I have seen in life, I have gained a lot of motivation. I have always been an ambitious person so I knew there was more to life than I could get from the universities in Nigeria was offering. I was raised in a Christian home so I have always believed in God. A lot of big schools told me no, but Valley told me yes. I have gone to a lot of places thanks to Mississippi Valley,” Akaeze said.
Although MVSU is a small school, Akaeze believes what you can experience here is all about what you set your mind to.
“It’s a small school, but it’s all about what you set your mind to. From Valley I have been able to work with Walmart Technologies. Now, I am about to do an internship with Apple. Having your eyes set on the goal is the main thing that helped me go through all the adversities in my life. If you come here knowing what you want, Valley will help you attain it. My department, the MCIS Department helped me to know what I wanted and then help me go for it,” he added.