Chigozie Akah

Hometown – Memphis, TN
Undergrad – Columbia University, BA, Political Science, Concentration in African Studies
Current – JD Candidate, University of Michigan Law School

Most people know her as Chigozie. In fact, her closest friends call her Chicki, Chuck, or Chika. In reality, her full name is Victoria Florence Chigozie Nwamaka Akah. Chigozie was born to an African-American mother and a Nigerian father. As you can see, the latter received full reign over her name. Chigozie sees her name as a resilient gift from her father, who died unexpectedly when she was 3 years old. Her dad specifically chose Chigozie, a traditional Ibo name, for the world to call her by. Throughout the years she has been ridiculed by classmates and intelligent adults alike for choosing to go by her middle name instead of the more European-sounding Victoria. Yet few people know the sentimental value she applies to the name Chigozie. Chigozie means “God’s blessing” in Ibo. Now that she has matured, Chigozie realizes that her name, in it of itself, is a blessing. It is a bond provided by her father that supersedes death. Most importantly it is a monument, a testament she carries, that lets the world know a great man, Emmanuel Chiedu Akah, once walked this earth.

As a child of parents who stress giving back to the community, Chigozie has continued their legacy of service. Chigozie devotes most of her free time to working with kids. She has served as a mentor in various programs including tutoring, Bright Girls Bright Futures, Woodland Discovery Camp, and Hutchison School’s Girl Confidence Coalition, a program she helped organize. Chigozie is constantly working to bring awareness about the prevalence of child abuse in America. She has volunteered at the Memphis Child Advocacy center since 7th grade. For the past 2 years she organized a teddy bear drive for the MCAC that raised over 600 bears for survivors of child abuse. Chigozie hopes to one day open Addie’s Angels, a network of shelters devoted to providing educational, therapeutic, and vocational resources to foster care expats as well as survivors of child trafficking.

When she’s not working with children, Chigozie enjoys immersing herself in the world of music. She is a classically trained pianist of 12 years and has participated in All-West Tennessee Band as well as the All-West Tennessee Honor Choir. Chigozie is also a member of the International Baccalaureate program. Over the years she has received honors including: German Honors Student of the year (3 consecutive years), accepted into the Tennessee Governor School for International Studies,TSSAA Student-Athlete Award of Merit, and is a Questbridge Finalist. She is an active member of Mock Trial, Model UN, Chamber Choir, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, National German Honor Society, and Knowledge Bowl Team. I dream of attending Yale and majoring in Economics and Sociology.

Over the years, despite dealing with hardships, Chigozie has amassed numerous accolades. Still, Chigozie stresses that she does not achieve simply to impress others or even for personal fulfillment. Chigozie achieves in the hope that when she takes a moment to come up for air, she’ll catch a glimpse of Daddy smiling down on her.