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Who is YB4? Rhobie Asks, Akil Answers

As part of our relaunch, Akil and I wanted you all to get to know the team! As part of our efforts to make that happen, we interviewed one another. Below is a set of questions that I asked Akil, along with his answers. Happy Reading :)


Q1.Why did you start Your Better Four?

In the early stages of the pandemic, I realized that high school students often went through their four years without learning genuinely helpful life skills (like leadership, time management, or public speaking). As a recent high school graduate in the summer of 2020, I felt like a lot of my peers didn’t have the resources, ideas, or people to turn to to learn those skills. I also felt like existing resources usually came from people who were removed from today’s high school experience. I wanted to help be a relatable voice for high school students. And I wanted to help positively transform their four years of high school.

Q2. What gives you the motivation to continue this work despite the challenges you’ve faced?

I’m motivated by the craziness of this world. Between climate change, political chaos, and mental health crises, I often feel helpless. But when I can help a student or peer make sense of their personal goals, or when I can connect students to resources that help them achieve their goals, I feel incredible! Helping people learn about themselves using my own experiences is deeply fulfilling. That fulfillment pushes me, even when challenges sometimes force me to pause.

Q3. What do you hope people get from YB4?

I hope high school and college students learn genuinely helpful life skills, whether it’s time management, leadership, public speaking, goal-setting, or something else altogether. I hope YB4 can help students and their supporters feel less alone and confused during this stage of life. I hope YB4 helps folks build confidence, resourcefulness, and clarity.

Q4. Who is your greatest (or one of your greatest) inspiration(s)?

Definitely my mom and dad. I am who I am because of who they are. My mom’s incredible mind, her resilience, and her resourcefulness mean I’m constantly learning new ways of being and ways to improve as a human. I can go to her about anything. I have no problem admitting I’m mom’s baby!

My dad is also brilliant; he’s essentially a walking encyclopedia lol. I love his sensitivity and patience, two traits that I often find myself embodying. He modeled for me what a good, responsible, kind man is, so I hope I can carry his example forward.

Q5. What stage or phase of your life would you say that you’re in right now?

I’m deep in a learning, preparing, and transformational stage of life. I feel like my academic pursuits, creative endeavors, and intense mental health challenges are preparing me to become a new person; more specifically, my ability to navigate all of those pursuits, endeavors, and challenges is leading me to be the “man of my dreams”. He’s the kind of man who has the tools to positively transform the lives of lots of people. That’s who I want to be. That’s who I’m preparing to be at this stage of my life.

Q6. What’s something that made you smile today?

This afternoon, I caught up with a friend/mentor who I hadn’t spoken to in about 4 months. He’s a very warm, insightful, and kind person. Talking with him always leaves me feeling happy and grounded.

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