School: Hammond High School
Akil, a senior at Hammond, has a grade-point average of 3.0. He has been on the principal's honor roll for three years and has received academic honors from the Black Student Association. As a junior he carried a 3.8 GPA.
Akil's interests are mostly in art and fashion design. As a freshman, he participated in the school art club. He has had his artwork hung in The Mall in Columbia.
As a sophomore, Akil lettered in outdoor track. He ran long-distance events, including the 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter relay.
He had numerous pieces of art published in the school's annual art and poetry journal, "Sketches." Among his submissions were an Egyptian drawing and several fashion sketches.
Akil lived in Germany during his middle school years; traveled throughout Germany and Italy; and visited Barcelona, Spain. He said it was in Europe that he acquired his love of fashion design, traveling to such fashion centers as Milan, Italy, and Paris.
"I tried to keep up with French fashions while I was overseas. I studied fashion history and architecture, also," said Akil.
Since returning to the United States, he has embarked on an independent study, reading books on art, architecture, fashion, history of art and various schools of thought in the art and fashion worlds.
Akil participates in the school mentorship program. His mentor is Yolanda Voss of Yolanda Voss Fashion Studio at Savage Mill. He said he is learning about "custom-made, ready-to-wear clothing."
"I am learning the design process and business side," said Akil. "It's hands-on experience. I am learning how to organize a collection, from how to cut the fabric to how to market."
Akil's parents are Laurence and Gwendolyn Nelson. He has two sisters, Gabrielle, 20, and Loopee, 9.
Plans: Akil is looking into several fashion design schools, including the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I.; the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, both in New York City; and the Parsons School of Design in Paris.
His comments: "I would love to get a chance to study in Paris, but I would like to have a business in America. This is my country. I am an American. I want to be a success in my own country," said Akil.
"I've been interested in art my whole life. I have always drawn sketches. This is not a hobby, this is a way of life. I have really practiced and it's become really close to my heart."
Send nominations to Jill L. Kubatko, Student Standout, The Sun for Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044. Please enclose a brief description of the student's activities and a phone number for the student.