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Class of 2017 Valedictorian Franklin Okpala

Transitioning to College Freshman

at the University of the Sciences

“ Never let other people’s expectation of us, determine the lives we live.” 

Franklin Okpala 

Franklin Okpala


New Alumni.Com Correspondent

Franklin Okpala, Valedictorian for the Graduating Class of 2017, is the newest addition to  As our new alumni correspondent, he’ll profile recent grads and report on issues affecting your generation.   


Transitioning from high school senior to college freshman often comes with a trunk load of challenges and adjustments.  Many lessons learned during the first few months of college will shape you and stay with you throughout adulthood. 


For some of us, college reminders are still cluttering our closets.  While others, need a navigation device just to find their old college stomping grounds.


Thank you, Franklin for taking a moment away from your impressive academic load and extra-curricular activities to tell us how Frankford prepared you for your college transition and beyond. 

Why the University of the Sciences?


FAA:  Why did you choose to attend the University of the Sciences?  


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I chose the University of the Sciences because they met all the academic requirements I looked for. They offered specialized and unique academic programs that other colleges lacked.


In addition, they offered me a considerable amount of money in the form of a scholarship.

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business and Policy


FAA:  What will be your major? What career do you plan on pursuing?  And what drew you to this career?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I originally entered my freshman year majoring in Pharmacy, but after arriving here and weighing out my other options—I have decided to major in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business and Policy. 


I choose this major because I see it as the avenue that will finally give me access to make my mark on the world.


Teachers Who Inspired Him


FAA:  What Frankford teachers inspired you?  How did your Frankford experience prepare you for the University of the Sciences? 


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  Mr. John Gibney, my AP Biology teacher, Mr. David Huzzard, (Journalism) Mr. James Cipperone, Ms. Balley, and Ms. Burns were Frankford teachers that really inspired me in a good way.  


Frankford prepared me both academically—especially in college writing—and athletically.  Frankford also helped me improve my networking and communication skills .


FAA:  Briefly, tell me a little about yourself.  Who in your family inspired you the most and why?  What are your hobbies?

His Life's Principles Taught by Parents

FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I am originally from Nigeria, and I am the 5th of six boys. Both of my parents have inspired me the most. They have taught me great life principles and the rules of the universe, which I strive everyday to obey and follow. 


Their greatest philosophy or principle is to always treat others how you would like to be treated. The greatest of it all was on hard work, which I think my entire life is based on.

Class of 2017 Valedictorian...

A Humbling Experience


FAA:  What did it mean to you to become Frankford's Valedictorian?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  It meant a lot to me.  It just confirmed the relevance of the hardworking principle my parents taught me. It was also humbling for me because I know I was not the smartest kid in my class.  I just probably was privileged to understand the art of working hard.

FAA:  You are now making the transition from high school senior to university freshman.  (It's an ongoing process) 


To date, what have been your challenges and your early successes? (I know it hasn't been long.)  How has the adjustment been, overall? 


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  My biggest challenge is being able to manage my time well. Being a commuter, playing a sport, and being involved in other extracurricular activities as well…is pretty tight for me.  So finding a balance between all of that and trying to be on top in class is definitely challenging. 

I know that with time, I should be able to find my rhythm and be able to cope perfectly well. Being able to make the basketball team and performing well in my first round exams has been the highlights of my first four weeks as a freshman.

Future Hopes for His Generation


FAA:  What do you hope your generation will accomplish in the world where your predecessors fell short?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I see my generation creating a greener world, where sustainability and technological advancement is paramount. I see a healthier world as well, since the global health sector is moving at a very fast pace with all the innovative advancements in motion.   


FAA:  What activities were you involved in during your Frankford years?  How did they shape you?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I played three sports:  basketball, soccer, and football. 

I was also vice president of the national honors society, and class treasurer as well. These activities have helped me develop my networking skills and most importantly, my leadership ability skills.

New Millennium Outreach


FAA:  What is the best way Frankford Alumni Association can attract New Millennium graduates, especially recent grads? 


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  I think the Association should get hold of the class officers from recent grads and use them as a means of communicating to their various classes.


The information communicated should be comprehensive material that promotes awareness of what it means to be a member of the Frankford alumni association. 


Most grads don’t know that the association is for them.


Once the connection is established and their contact information received—

newsletters and emails should be sent just to familiarize everyone with the association.


Meetings can then be scheduled at a time convenient for everyone.

An online survey can be passed out to obtain information and figure out a good meeting time.


Since we more likely prefer to be on social media and get most of our information from it—social media pages and presence are key.  Information and updates should be constantly posted on them as well. 

Advice to 2018 Grads

FAA:  What advice would you give 2018 grads making the transition from high school senior to university freshman?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  My advice to the class of 2018 is to utilize every learning opportunity they get; manage TIME wisely; always try to learn on their own; and be honest about the kind of student they are.


When you are out here in the adult world, it’s almost like you’re going against the world and not just your usual Frankford classmates.


They should also learn to pay more attention to details because once they are out to college, every single thing counts with less room for second chances and mistakes.

Ten Years From Now...


FAA:  Finally, where do you see yourself in ten years?  What is your favorite quote?


FRANKLIN OKPALA:  Ten years from now, I see myself in a pharmaceutical company partnering with global agencies like the World Health Organization towards global health concerns.


I’d like to be making sure that every human being gets the medical attention and privileges they deserve, especially in underdeveloped countries.  Hopefully, we’ll have less or none by then.


I don’t really have a favorite quote, but my senior quote I think was… “ never let other people’s expectation of us, determine the lives we live.”  


My hobbies are playing soccer and ping pong.




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