After graduating high school in 2015, Akiri originally aspired to attend an out-of-state culinary school. However, through the influence of his family and a desire to be his own boss, he decided to focus on business administration instead.
After hearing an advertisement on the radio, his sister mentioned a program that would help him start his journey into the business field called Year Up.
The Year Up program, which was previously held at Peirce, provided him an opportunity to earn college credits, professional development, and work experience in the business operations field.
After completing the program, Akiri returned to Peirce in 2022 and enrolled in the Career Bridge program, which prepares students with the skills, certifications, and credentials needed for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages, and guides them to those jobs in less than a year.
In May 2022, he earned a Certificate in Client Services and became the first graduate in the Career Bridge program.
Shortly after, he decided to continue at Peirce to pursue his associate degree, finishing in August 2022.
He said he chose to continue his education at Peirce because of the 7-week courses, convenient location, and flexibility the college provides.
Through his Associate in Arts in General Studies program, Akiri developed an interest in project management.
“My career interest right now is to become a project manager and business owner,” he said.
Through planning and executing parties and events, he has gained a love for taking on projects from scratch and making them come to life.
“The joy in making someone’s dream come to life is priceless,” Akiri said.
Because he decided to go back to school during the pandemic, balancing a full-time job and his studies, he has had to overcome many challenges.
“I faced a lot of obstacles while attending Peirce, from no one believing that I was going to make it to not having a stable place to live,” said Akiri.
Before the pandemic, he traveled back and forth to class in person and needed time to adjust to a virtual setting. He has persevered through the support of his family and friends and always believing in himself.
Akiri describes his experience at Peirce as positive and a supportive environment for adult learners.
“Everyone, from the staff members to my professors, really wants the best for you and will help you to do your very best,” he said.
Shakeem is currently employed as an operations manager but is actively seeking a job in project management while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at Peirce.
He hopes to continue to grow his clothing line called Royal Hope.
And for all his fellow Peirce students and the working adults considering going back to school, Shakeem has some advice, “Never give up on yourself and always push yourself to be better. Once you believe in yourself, everyone that you encounter has no other choice but to do the same.”
Read more about Shakeem Akiri’s educational journey at Peirce College.