“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself — and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.” – Jim Morrison
Rhonald Akridge wasn’t just a friend–he was my brother, mentor, and someone whom I admired with my entire being.
I met Rhonald in my sophomore year of college when we were both elected to serve on the board of the Nevada/California Region of Phi Theta Kappa–the official honor society of the two-year college.
Rhonald and I shared the same sense of humor, passion for education, and the dream of transferring to a four-year university. After our term in office ended, we both completed our community college coursework and moved on. Me, to San Diego State University. Rhonald to the University of Southern California (USC).
While transferring to San Diego State was common for those of us San Diegan’s with Associate’s Degrees, transferring to USC was almost unheard of. Of course, not only did Rhonald get accepted to USC, he also received a full-scholarship and work-study. I say, “Of course,” because Rhonald never let seemingly impossible obstacles stop him from accomplishing his goals. Rhonald was used to overcoming adversity. It was in his DNA.
Though Rhon moved to Los Angeles and I stayed in San Diego, we regularly talked on the phone and frequently visited each other. One evening as I was getting ready for bed, I received a call from Rhonald. He shared that he’d be taking a leave of absence from USC due to a health issue and returning to San Diego for a while. While I was worried about Rhonald, I had the utmost confidence that he’d be able to beat the tumor. It was just another speedbump on his path to whatever he was supposed to do with his life.
I don’t recall how long Rhonald fought, but he fought like a champion. He was brave, never lost his sense of humor, and spent his days in recovery taking care of others.
I’m forever grateful to Phi Theta Kappa for introducing me to Rhonald Akridge. And though he’s no longer with us, our souls are forever connected by the friendship and bond we shared.
Since Rhonald’s passing, it’s been on my heart to do something in his honor–to keep his legacy alive. I love it when life opens doors to opportunities that allow us to live out our purpose. This Saturday morning, February 24th, I’ll be delivering the keynote at the Minn-Kota Regional Phi Theta Kappa conference. Nearly 20 years after becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa, I’m returning to share the impact that Phi Theta Kappa has had on my life. When I was asked to speak, I also knew it was fate’s way of introducing Rhonald to a whole new audience of incredible Phi Theta Kappans. And I plan to do so by honoring Rhonald in the best way I can–by giving back.
On behalf of Hopeful to Hired, I’m proud to announce the Rhonald Akridge Memomorial Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Scholarship. This new transfer scholarship will be awarded to a Minn-Kota Regional Phi Theta Kappa member in good standing, who best articulates how they plan to use their education and calling in life to change the world. For more information and to apply for the scholarship:
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