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Abibat Akinyele is only 15 years old and is taking advantage of opportunities to inspire those behind her through her career aspirations and achievements. Indicative of her work in the community and pursuit of a rigorous career path, Akinyele was one of a select few students across the country picked to participate in the 15th Disney Dreamers Academy, an educational and mentoring program for students, at the Walt Disney World.

Akinyele was born to Nigerian parents but currently lives in the South Bronx. As a sophomore student at Loyola School, a private Jesuit school, Akinyele does well in her academics. In addition to doing well in her studies, she makes time to give back to the community.

“My goal in life is just to inspire everyone who can relate to me. Definitely, Nigerian women, daughters and nieces, because in the continued patriarchy, people don’t expect you to go to college. Nobody expects you to be more than a housewife. That’s why I want to be something and someone,” she said.

Akinyele founded the club “Girl-Up in Male-Dominated Fields,” with a United Nations program, she mentioned in the profile about her posted on the Disney Dreamers Academy website. Separate from school, she tutors local students.

Akinyele is inspired by being from the Bronx as well as being Nigerian. “I think my intersectional identity helps me relate to so many different people in so many races and religions,” she said.

Sparked by an interest in challenging societal expectations of women in male-dominated industries, Akinyele said she wants to stand out. Her interests include economics, finance, business and technology. Her dream is to be the CEO of a bank on Wall Street and possibly a hedge fund manager.

Grateful for the Disney Dreamers Academy opportunity, Akinyele was appreciative of the experience because she got to meet and hear from new people. She admitted that in the beginning, she applied for the program relatively last minute, not knowing much about what the program was or did. She heard someone from Harvard talk about their experience in the program and that motivated her to apply. But once she got to experience the program herself, she found it left a lasting impression on her.

“I heard a lot of people speak. I spoke a lot myself. I met amazing kids who were motivated, just like me, and it was great to be in a community where I felt so accepted and validated in the dreams I have,” she said.

In another five years or so, Akinyele said she hopes to attend an Ivy League college and have some projects up and running. Currently, she is working on a newsletter geared towards spreading awareness about issues that Black women and other women of color experience, such as mental health. By spreading awareness, she wants to empower women and challenge the stereotype that Black women are angry. She is also considering starting a second newsletter focused on writing about successful women in their respective careers to spread awareness of their impact on society.

“I cry every time I see a hijabi [a woman who wears a hijab] doing something amazing, even if it’s just a TikTok of some girl who got a new job, it makes me so happy. I’m happy they’re getting recognized and going places,” she said.

One hundred students were selected as the 2022 Dreamers Class for the 2022 Disney Dreamers Academy. These students received an all-expenses-paid free trip to Disney World where they could discover career opportunities by taking part in workshops, networking and listening to speakers, to name a few activities, according to a press release by BlackPressUSA and published by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Students included those who were class presidents, who run their own organizations or those interested in STEM careers.

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