Behind The Vision: A Biography of the Founders of The Akademia

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Anwar Najmi received his Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later went on to obtain his Masters in Business Administration.  As a young child, he had a deep love for the arts, especially drawing and music.  He loved the rock music of the 80’s and was inspired by artists such as Don Henley, Phil Collins & Genesis, Hall & Oates, Starship, Richard Marx and many others.  In college, he formed a group called IQ and the Mob and released two albums, containing original rock songs.  After moving to Los Angeles, he formed Strykers’ Club and released his third and fourth albums, both rap-rock fusions.  Strykers’ Club performed at The Highlands, B.B. Kings, The Mint and many other clubs. His songs were licensed in major television shows such as Friday Night Lights, Black Donellys, and more.

Roujeanne Najmi received her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of California Irvine and later went on to obtain her Masters in Business Administration.  She studied piano for ten years from the age of eight-years-old at the Burrows Course of Music in Los Angeles.  She joined choir in college and when she went home for the summer, she sang in her local church choir.  After graduation, she met Anwar Najmi while they were both working for a large nutrition corporation.  They learned that they had a lot of interests in common and a few years later, they decided to leave the corporate world to form The Akademia.  The early rendition of The Akademia was a new higher education model with a broad learning foundation incorporating the physical, intellectual and artistic dimensions.  They believed that firm foundations in all three areas were crucial to developing one’s full potential.

Setting out to pursue their dream of The Akademia, they travelled the world. Their adventures brought them to Brazil, the Philippines, Turkey, the UK, France, Italy, Mexico and Singapore. In a few of these countries they owned property and took a deep interest in the local language and culture. Inspired by the idea that Turkey was a bridge between East and West and part of the cradle of ancient civilization, they reckoned it was a good place to begin exploring the physical foundation of their vision. The first Akademia was a large four-story health and fitness complex in the popular port town of Kusadasi, Turkey.  As modern fitness and nutrition practices were just starting to gain traction in the country, the facility thrived.  Going into the project, Anwar and Roujeanne were no strangers to fitness.  Both had trained in gyms regularly since they were teenagers and later studied the martial arts.  Anwar obtained his black belt in karate and Roujeanne later obtained her yoga instructor certification.  The Akademia Turkey offered state-of-the-art equipment, fitness classes, a nutrition bar, and wellness services.  During this phase, they developed a proprietary database system (Primordia) to record their clients’ fitness and wellness goals and successfully track their progress towards those goals.  The Akademia quickly became a trusted and respected center in the community frequented by Turks, expatriates and tourists, alike. It was an amazing and life-changing experience for the couple.

Two years after founding the first Akademia, the couple decided to move back to California to start a family.  It was also time to marry the physical aspects of their vision with the intellectual. They leased a two-story facility in Beverly Hills on Santa Monica Boulevard that focused on providing this. Students received one-on-one attention with leading PhD professors in their field while training in fitness, martial arts and yoga. The students also were asked to begin identifying and developing their unique personal vision – a dream for their life that was extraordinary and did not necessarily conform to the job market or expectations of society.  It was at this second stage, that their daughter Milan was born and their musical project Millennium was formed.

Millennium is an edgy pop rock group formed by Anwar (aka Stryker) and Roujeanne (aka Sapphire).  Anwar wrote and produced the songs and is the lead singer and bass player of the group.  Roujeanne is the keyboardist and back-up singer.  The performance group also includes three other musicians, Gaku Murata on guitar, Eric Sampson on second guitar, and Brad Dawson on drums. They have performed in local clubs around Los Angeles, including Key Club, The Roxy and Venice Beach.  While releasing Millennium’s album, Anwar has also taken time to produce other talented artists, such as K King, a neo soul artist, and Young Fit, a rap artist.

Appropriately, it was Millennium that pulled Anwar and Roujeanne into the third and final phase of The Akademia – the artistic dimension. In the years that followed, they completely immersed themselves full-time in the music scene.  They met with other artists during their gigs and studio time at Paramount Studios and The Lair.  They also met Ken Wilson and quickly became close friends.  Ken first began as a mentor to Millennium and later joined the executive team of The Akademia.  Anwar and Roujeanne also met a host of other individuals in the industry such as BJ Lobermann, Kevin Black and others who worked at Interscope Records.  Through these meetings, they continued to refine their vision for The Akademia, which gradually became reflected in its mission statement:  The Akademia is dedicated to recognizing excellence in music throughout the world and supporting musicians interested in receiving a higher degree of market exposure and professional recognition for their work.
Anwar and Roujeanne started out with the belief that firm foundations in all three areas – physical, intellectual, and artistic – were crucial to developing one’s true potential. Unconsciously, their path had led them through precisely that journey.  Though the Los Angeles Akademia was incorporated in February 2008, its many stages and incarnations since have become important building blocks for a strong and vibrant organization.  Anwar Najmi is the President and Co-Founder and Roujeanne Najmi is the Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder.  Together with Ken Wilson, Marc Feldman and others, they form the executive team of The Akademia.  It is through the monthly music awards that they are able to gather, organize, and listen to all of the music submissions from artists all around the world.  Through their integrated radio, press, video, licensing and retail media properties, it is their goal to recognize talented artists throughout the world and to guide them onto a path towards success. Much work lies ahead, but the journey thus far has been deeply fulfilling and strongly rooted in the couple’s commitment to helping others achieve their dreams.

 

 

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