TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A 75-year-old has earned his bachelor’s degree after first enrolling in the University of South Florida in 1966.
Askia Muhammad Aquil, formerly Otha Favors, earned his degree in general studies.
In 1966, he was pursuing a degree in world language and cultures, with a concentration in French and Russian, with two internships at local newspapers.
According to USF, Aquil’s dream was to become a a foreign correspondent or diplomat.
“Then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and everything changed for him. He founded the One to One Group, which brought together students and faculty to discuss race relations and social justice issues,” the university said.
Inspired by King’s vision and through their work with the Black Student Union, the Department of Africana Studies was founded at USF.
“Through USF Student Government, he also recruited USF students to tutor struggling Black students from Hillsborough County schools to join the fight against poverty,” USF said about Aquil.
Aquil left the university his senior year, but continued his activism in the community. He was given the key to the City of St. Petersburg in 2021 for his work to create quality, affordable housing and to “reduce poverty while exuding peace, kindness and compassion in everything he does.”
He always intended to return to USF and complete his bachelor’s degree. After more than 50 years, several grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, Aquil graduated at the age of 75 on Saturday.
The university said he plans to pursue a master’s degree in liberal arts, with a concentration in Africana studies.
USF’s full summer 2022 commencement ceremony can be found online.