(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Jude Akpunku Jr. graduated from Cedar Hill High School and hasn’t stopped achieving major accomplishments over the past 12 years.
Akpunku Jr., who is a Legislative Fellow in the House of Representatives, said his goal is to become the Mayor of Dallas.
“I would love to see a city full of active thinkers and doers,” Akpunku Jr. said. “I know how to facilitate and provide opportunities for people.”
Akpunku Jr. graduated in the Top 10 percent of his class and speaks three languages – English, French, and Igbo.
Akpunku Jr. played NCAA Division I Football at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, even though he only began playing football as a 10th grader and had only one year of varsity experience.
“I was an athletic kid with no coordination,” Akpunku Jr. said. “Coach Joey McGuire is one of the greatest people I know.
“Coach McGuire and his staff trusted me in a leadership role,” Akpunku Jr. said. “People counting on me to be successful propelled me to be successful. I saw the looks on my teammates’ faces. I saw the younger athletes looking up to me.”
Akpunku Jr. had football scholarship offers from Rice and SMU before he ever played a down of varsity football, but there was something special about Navy – where former Cedar Hill teammate Brice Musgrove (who coached football at CHHS in 2021) was already part of the program.
“There was something about the group of people that were there,” Akpunku Jr. said. “There were a couple more layers, and it certainly was a group of selfless leaders and servant leaders. I committed to the Navy during my visit.”
Akpunku Jr. arrived in Annapolis and was part of four bowl games in four seasons under then head coach Ken Niumatalolo. Akpunku also went 4-0 in the storied Army-Navy Game.
“That is something that nobody will ever take away from me,” Akpunku Jr. said. “We won all four years. You’re doing this for the love of the person next to you. There’s nothing else like playing in a game like that.”
Akpunku Jr. earned degrees in Economics and International Relations from the Naval Academy.
He was stationed in California where he earned master’s degrees in Public Policy and Systems Analysis. Before that, he was stationed in Virginia and Tennessee, respectively.
“I’ve always had this vested interest in how things work from a geopolitical sense,” Akpunku Jr. said. “I want to understand it from a 100,000 feet level.’’
Akpunku Jr. first became interested in public policy after attending City Council meetings in Cedar Hill during his teen years.
Last summer, he played a role in the Navy’s efforts to evacuate Afghan refugees from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bahrain.
“It was amazing to see the effort and time that our nation put forth,” Akpunku Jr. said.
Akpunku Jr., who was born in Nigeria, also authored a book called “The Dangers of A Single Story” which “uncovers stereotypical biases between African Immigrants and African Americans.”
“I want to make a difference,” Akpunku Jr. said. “That’s all I know. I am dedicating my life to public service.”