It has been just about fifteen years now since alumnus Akinji Donaldson attended his commencement ceremony. It was a lovely day in May at the University of California at Berkeley, he remembers. As he received his diploma, Akinji Donaldson remembers thinking that he had made it, that here he was, standing on the stage a college grad. “It was a tremendous feeling,” he recalls. “I mean, it was amazing. And then I thought, wow, what do I do next?”
Many new grads experience similar feelings; luckily for Akinji Donaldson, his future lay in semi-pro baseball. He was picked up by a semi-pro team and went on to play many years as a shortstop at various levels nationally and internationally, an experience Akinji Donaldson won’t soon forget. He attributes that opportunity and the experiences it provided to his success as a scholar-athlete at UC-Berkeley. In fact Akinji Donaldson attributes much of his personal achievement to the education he received at the university, both in the classroom and in life lessons. For Akinji Donaldson, college really was all it was cracked up to be.
A communications major, Akinji Donaldson is well-spoken and thoughtful in discussing his past. “My time at Berkeley was really amazing,” he says. “I mean, it was such a unique experience for me to be able to get out and see a new place, full of all new people, and get to learn in this wonderful and nurturing environment. Plus to be able to play baseball at the same time, it was all just about perfect.”
Akinji Donaldson took his communications degree and applied it after his baseball career ended to starting a special events management company, which he ran for a few years. When it began to interfere with his being there for his son Kimani, Akinji Donaldson knew it was time to quit. Now he is a full time father and loves every minute of it.
“The opportunities that my college education afforded me have enabled me to become the devoted father I am today,” Akinji Donaldson says with pride. “I think about it all the time. I feel so lucky.”