Soccer and robotics may not have much in common, but if you competed against St. Bernard High School in either field this past year, you probably learned the hard way that recent St. Bernard’s graduate Odinakachukwu Amobi is a natural born leader.
According to Amobi, known affectionately by his family and friends as “Aka,” the key to leadership is finding a balance between confidence and humility.
“I believe confidence is a quality every leader should have: You should be confident enough to believe that you’re never below anyone else, but also confident to believe that you’re never above anyone else either,” Amobi explained.
But Amobi’s outstanding grades and knack for robotics (Amobi led St. Bernard to fifth place at a national robotics competition last fall) certainly stood out above the rest to The Aerospace Corporation, which made Amobi the third-ever recipient of the prestigious Dr. Wanda M. Austin Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Scholarship.
The award means that Amobi will receive a $10,000 endowment, renewable for up to four years, toward his computer engineering studies at Cal State Northridge as well as a summer internship at Aerospace.
“St. Bernard’s is so proud of Aka,” said school principal Dr. Patrick Lynch. “He tapped into the best of our STEM program and our co-curricular offerings to prepare himself for a promising future.”
For Amobi, the STEM Scholarship represents a myriad of dreams coming true at once: working at Aerospace and following in the footsteps of his several family members who turned their time studying engineering at CSUN into successful careers.
According to Amobi, no one has played a more vital role than his mother, Anthonia. Aka recalled the time she took him for lunch at The Proud Bird restaurant near LAX as a young boy and the moment that he first saw an airplane land. It was then, he said, that he fell in love with robotics for life.
“He was like a baby bull!” recalled Anthonia, who encouraged him to join St. Bernard’s robotics club. “Just jumping up so excited. So I kept taking him back.”
Amobi’s intelligence and work ethic suggest he’ll become one of the minds behind the machines we see out our windows in the future. But Amobi is quick to point out that his goals in engineering and of earning his Ph.D. aren’t nearly as important as his goal of one day starting a family and being a present father for his future children.
Amobi credited his Catholic education at St. Bernard for shaping his thinking on how science ultimately lends itself to our greater purpose as human beings.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Amobi told Angelus News. “In science, nothing happens by chance, just for the sake of happening.”
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