fbpx Akili Tulloch | Phillips Exeter Academy

Akili Tulloch

Year of Graduation: 
2022
Akili Tulloch

“I was nervous at first about asking for help, but I quickly overcame that."

During his first term as a prep, Akili Tulloch ’22 wanted to step outside his comfort zone. The easygoing Highland Park, New Jersey, resident knew a little about what to expect at Exeter — his brother Adar is a senior, another brother attended Phillips Andover — but he soon came to appreciate that “being here and living on your own creates a sense of being independent. You rely on others for some things, but you have to think and make decisions for yourself,” he says. “Exeter eases you in to it.”

Support everywhere

One way Akili felt supported was being able to take classes pass/fail during his first term. “You work hard but also learn about Exeter’s resources while making friends,” he says. “Since everyone’s new, you’re in the same boat.” 

Living in a tight-knit dorm community helps too. A resident of Main Street dorm, Akili often gets together with friends, chatting over late-night pizza or playing a lively game of ping-pong. “Living in a dorm is really fun,” he says. “You make some of the best memories with the people you live with.” 

Akili’s weekday begins around 6:40 a.m., when he gets up, showers, then goes to breakfast. Afterwards, he’ll return to his dorm to complete any unfinished schoolwork from the night before, then head to class. After class and evenings are devoted to sports, extracurriculars and studying. 

“Living in a dorm is really fun. You make some of the best memories with the people you live with.”

Last fall, Akili tested his acting skills in Exeter’s mainstage production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." Playing the character Francis Flute enabled him to stretch: Flute portrays a woman, Thisbe, in the comedy’s play within a play. “It was a fun role,” says Akili, who brought the house down during the show's run. “I’d done theater before coming to Exeter,” he says, but with this role, “I was able to portray a character in a way I didn’t expect.” 

He stepped out of his comfort zone even further by joining Outkast, Exeter’s all-male stepping and hip-hop dance group, and performing at a fall pep rally. He’s playing junior varsity ice hockey during winter term and he's looking forward to trying crew in the spring. 

Transitioning to Harkness

Embracing the Harkness method of learning has broadened his academic horizons. “I had to get used to it,” he admits, noting that he was used to raising his hand to speak in class. “Everyone contributes and builds off one another. It can be a little intimidating at first, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if your question is right or wrong. If you have something to say, you should just say it.”

Harkness was especially helpful in his first-term history course, The World in the 20th Century. Reading through assignments, then coming to class and sharing his perspective on historical events was a welcome challenge. “You’re not discussing straight facts and dates,” he notes. “You analyze what you’re reading and form your own opinion on events. That’s really interesting.” 

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if your question is right or wrong. If you have something to say, you should just say it."

Another subject Akili enjoys is Japanese, one of eight foreign languages offered at Exeter. A fan of anime, Japanese animation, Akili is fascinated with the language and culture. His class with Modern Languages Instructor Kayoko Tazawa is one of his favorites, he says, attributing it to Tazawa’s friendly rapport with students. “We’re all new learners in class so we’re learning together, at the same pace.” 

Establishing connections with teachers and other students, especially upperclassmen, is important, says Akili. It’s making all the difference as he enters his second term. “I was nervous at first about asking for help from teachers and others,” he says, “but I quickly overcame that feeling. You can really rely on people here.”

— Debbie Kane