In 2015, Mike Akanji received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Thomas College. After four years excelling as a student-athlete, he considered pursuing a career in the FBI, but ultimately decided to stay in school, earning his MBA from Thomas in 2017.
Mike knew that his passion lay in helping other people and making a difference in the world – especially in the lives of children.
That passion led him to his current role as the Program Director of Tree Street Youth, an organization based in Lewiston, ME. Tree Street Youth is a nonprofit that strives to support the youth of Lewiston-Auburn through programs rooted in academics, the arts, and athletics in a safe space that encourages healthy physical, social, emotional, and academic development while building unity across lines of difference. Shortly after starting at Tree Street, Mike says he learned that “Lewiston is full of kids that are just like me and my friends when we were growing up – kids from many different backgrounds, from all over the world with different cultures and histories. These are tough, smart, good kids who just need a little extra help and someone to be there for them.”
Whether facilitating after-school programs; teaching leadership and empowerment skills; running college prep classes; or just being a shoulder for someone to lean on, Mike says that he is honored to be able to have an opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many children through his work at Tree Street Youth.
“Tree Street has helped a lot with the challenges the pandemic has presented,” he adds. “A lot of kids went from having family around all the time to living in a bubble and having virtually nobody around them. Everyone at Tree Street appreciates personal relationships more, and it really illustrates the impact and value surrounding interactions with the kids. Everything has become a lot more special.”
*This story was originally published in the Winter 2021 edition of the Thomas magazine. View the full magazine here.