Aya Alcodray pushed past a tough first semester to graduate this December after two years at Wayne State
When Aya Alcodray came to Wayne State from her hometown of Dearborn, she was certain about the path that lay ahead of her. She knew she was going to medical school after finishing her pre-med undergraduate program in 2 years.
“I thought I wanted to be a doctor because my entire life that was always my field of interest,” explains Alcodray. “Once I got here and started taking science, chemistry and biology classes I realized it wasn’t for me and I didn’t get the best grades my first semester here.”
While it is common for first-year college students to struggle when first faced with the rigors of a college curriculum, it wasn’t an experience Alcodray was used to, and she found herself reconsidering if the path she laid out for herself was a good fit.
“I was always a straight-A student, I was on honor roll all four years in high school, took APs and dual enrollment classes,” says Alcodray. “I’m the kind of person who likes to sit home and study, but coming to Wayne State was different than I thought it would be.
The sudden dip in Alcodray’s grades prompted her academic advisor, Kevin Papuga, to reach out and see what he could do to put her back on track.
"The first time I met Aya I thought she was taking on way too much,” says Papuga. “The second time I met her, I knew there was a method to her madness. After that I realized Aya was just Aya, and I had to do anything I could to assist her and her brilliant aspirations."
Alcodray fully shifted her focus and declared a marketing major with a minor in psychology. She felt managing this shift was made much easier with Papuga’s support. Her new plan was shaped by memories of her grandparents.
“My grandparents are both lawyers in Lebanon,” explains Alcodray. “They live in a very small village, so my grandfather ended up doing a lot of work in Beirut, and when I was probably 15 years old I went to watch him in court. From there I think I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but even then, I had made up my mind to be a doctor, not a lawyer.”
Although much of her college plan changed during her first semester, the one thing Alcodray did not want to adjust was her timetable.
“When I told Kevin I wanted to complete my degree in 2 years, he kind of went insane,” says Alcodray. “I ended up taking 26 credits a semester between Wayne State and Schoolcraft, and it was hard, but I wanted to finish as soon as possible.”
To accomplish this, Alcodray worked round the clock, taking as many credits as possible year-round. On trips home to Lebanon, she would wake up in the middle of the night to take online classes offered on Eastern Time.
As she approaches graduation and the culmination of her hard-won undergraduate degree, Alcodray sees that while she completed her degree for herself, she had other motivations too.
“I do a lot of what I do to inspire my brothers,” she says. “I have two younger brothers who both look up to me. I want to be a role model for them, one wants to be a veterinarian and the other wants to be a dentist so honestly, I hope my brothers would be inspired by my journey.”
She was able to realize her goal with the support of her friends, family and Wayne State community. Alcodray hopes that any other student who finds themselves in this situation their freshman year, or at any point in their college career, will reach out for support both inside and outside of Wayne State.
As for next steps, Alcodray is studying for the LSAT exam, and plans to apply for law school after graduating this December. She is greatly looking forward to pursuing these next steps.
“It was a long hard journey, and now I’m studying for the LSAT while taking more classes,” says Alcodray. “What gets me going is knowing that I’m almost there, that all the hard work was worth it.”
-Patrick Bernas, Information Officer III