Meet Jack Kent Cooke Semifinalist Arafat Akon
“I needed to give myself another chance.”
Upon finishing high school, Arafat Akon went to the Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), a renowned engineering college in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, during Sophomore year, Arafat dropped out of college due to mental health issues and depression. He took on some low-paying jobs but realized if he wanted to get anywhere, he needed a college education and degree. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, going back to college after dropping out was nearly impossible and now Arafat had no prospects for a viable career.
Now 23, Arafat took the brave step in 2019 of immigrating to the U.S. where he had never been before, did not speak English and had no friends.
The same year, Arafat and his parents felt the need to return to Bangladesh to see his brothers and regroup. “I could not cope with the culture here in New York. I felt like my depression was increasing. But the truth was, I needed to give myself another chance to face my problems and grab onto all that New York City has to offer.”
So, Arafat embraced New York as the only place where he could change his life, where he could be independent while also supporting his parents. So, in 2021, he flew back to New York and settled in Queens with his parents.
That fall Arafat enrolled at Queensborough as a Business major, specializing in Computer Information Systems.
“Almost immediately, doors opened to me. I received student services from ASAP and support from my professors that made a huge difference in my academic experience. I also got involved in social activities that helped me make friends. I want other students to know that Queensborough has resources to help people feel connected to each other.”
During his first year, Arafat worked part-time at Dunkin Donuts. When he was not working, he was studying. Now he works as a research assistant with a professor at Queensborough.
Despite his high expectations academically and household responsibilities, Arafat has maintained exceptional grades. He was on the Dean’s list for all his previous semesters and will graduate this spring with an A.S. in Computer Information Systems. He plans to continue his education at a four-year college.
Contact: Alice Doyle