Akil Shaw, 18, literally marches to the beat of his own tune. An accomplished musician, he will graduate from Benjamin E. Mays High School with a music scholarship. His success as a musician will offset the cost of tuition at Alabama A&M University, Bethune-Cookman, Morehouse or FAMU, where he’ll major in electrical engineering.
“My end goal is to become an acoustic engineer, building the environment that sound travels in, building performance halls, tweaking the sound,” said Akil. “While I am building all these places, I want to play in them as well. I want to travel the world playing the tuba while still engaging in acoustic engineering.”
Akil is already off to a sound start. His musical accolades include making it into the Georgia Music Education Association (GMEA) All State Band, where he served as First Chair in 10th grade; and serving as the current tuba section leader in the Mays band and first chair in the District 5 Honors Band all four years of high school.
Yet, Akil says he is most proud of stepping out from his elder sister’s shadow and finding his own rhythm.
“My sister was a junior when I was in ninth grade,” Akil said. “I just wanted to fit in, not cause too much attention. My mindset changed when my sister graduated from Mays. When she left, I was like, ‘It’s your turn now. You’re up next. You’ve got big shoes to fill because of your mom and who she is and your sister going to UGA.’ When she graduated, I grew into myself.”
Akil is now a well-rounded student both academically and socially. He has remained in the Top 10 percent of his class all four years, is a member of the swim and tennis teams, and is the reigning first attendant to Mr. Mays.
Being so well-rounded has afforded him great opportunities. Thus, his advice to underclassmen is, “don’t burn bridges, especially with your teachers,” he said. “You never know what influence they have at other organizations or what they know. A lot of teachers here know administrators at Morehouse and FAMU and were able to make connections. They are trying to help me get money and scholarships.”
Music has taught him preparedness.
“It’s important to be prepared at all times to perform,” he said. “Today there was a parent luncheon and they needed me to speak and perform at it. I had to go home and get dressed. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”
Graduating from APS is his honor.
“Despite all obstacles and stereotypes associated with inner-city schools – not really doing anything, just having fun — we are getting accepted into all the schools other people are getting into,” said Akil, who has attended APS schools since entering West Manor Elementary School in fourth grade. “We’re proof that it is possible.”
|Intended Major||Electrical Engineering|
|Career Goal||Acoustic Engineer and Musician|
|Awards/Recognition||USGA Georgia Certificate of Merit, First Attendant To Mr. Mays, Top 10% In Class, AB Honor Roll, Georgia Music Education Association (GMEA) All State Band (9-10th grades, First Chair In 10th grade), First Chair In District 5 Honor Band (10-12th grades), Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra (MISO), Metro Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble (MAYWE), Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation (MJYF), Model Atlanta Regional Commission (MARC), B.E. Mays Band (marching, jazz, wind, sympathy and orchestra) – Student Director and Tuba Section Leader, Acolyte/Senior EYC at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tri-M Music Honors Society, Swim Team member, Tennis Team member|
Atlanta Public Schools will host high school commencement exercises Saturday, May 18 – Friday, May 24, 2019. All ceremonies — except Atlanta Classical Academy and Charles R. Drew Charter School — will be held at Georgia Institute of Technology, McCamish Pavilion,965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more information on commencement exercises, go to www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.
We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email firstname.lastname@example.org.