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Award winning volunteer eyes medical career

Queens Village resident Falilat Akinleye has already been striving to make an impact in the community and has plans to continue with that pattern as she moves on to college.
Akinleye, a recent graduate of Benjamin Cardozo High School, has a long list of school activities. She was a co-captain of the track team, member of the board of the Key Club, was a tutor for the Bumblebee Club, a member of the Black Student Union and a member of the Debate Club. Through her volunteer service with some of her organizations, she has assisted with the Ronald McDonald House, AIDS Walk, March of Dimes and a Thanksgiving food drive, among others.
Aside from her school involvement, Akinleye has volunteered at Elmhurst Hospital in its pediatric and chemotherapy departments. Knowing that it can be difficult to be in the hospital, Akinleye said that she would go in with a smile to try to lift up the spirits of those who were there.
“I just enjoy interacting with the patients and just developing relationships with them,” she said. “It was my joy to be there.”
Akinleye has also volunteered as a camp counselor with the Association for the Help of Retarded Children. She explained that the organization takes the children into main stream America to do normal activities such as going to the pool, walking to the park and going shopping.
“I absolutely loved that,” said Akinleye. “It was just wonderful.”
The dedication to help others is also visible in Akinleye’s family life. In August of 2005, following her mother Debby being diagnosed with cancer, she acted as her primary caregiver. She said her mother is fine now and that there is a 99.9 percent chance that the cancer will not return.
Throughout her life, Akinleye’s biggest inspiration has been her mother, who came to the United States from Nigeria in the 1980s and worked many hours to make a better life for her family. Akinleye said her mother always kept going and has inspired her to be whatever she wants to be in life.
“She came and she was determined to do better for all of us,” said Akinleye, who has two older brothers and a twin brother. “She just motivates me to be the best that I can be.”
Akinleye said that she was raised in a wonderful and fun-loving home where she was given many opportunities. She likes to share that with others. In fact, Akinleye said that her community service has been her proudest accomplishment so far.
“Ever since I was young, I just wanted to have an impact on the people around me,” she said. She continued, “I love the fact that I do it and I’m going to continue to do it as long as I can.”
Akinleye was recently awarded a Seinfeld Scholarship, which will pay for all of her college expenses for all four years. She said that she felt honored to have received it and that her dream was to be able to continue her education without having to worry about the financial burden. While expressing her gratitude for being selected to receive the scholarship, Akinleye said that she will pay it back by giving back to the community and hopes to one day provide scholarships to others.
“I can be anything now,” Akinleye said. “So many doors are open.”
Now that she has completed high school, Akinleye will go on to college as a pre-med student. She wants to become a neonatologist to specialize in working with premature and critically ill babies.
In general, Akinleye’s future goals are to do well in college, get involved at school and to continue with her community service. She also said that she wants to study abroad, keep an open mind about new things and learn more.

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