Ayah Ayesh has discovered her life passion, and it’s right at home


For seniors, college means new starts.

The beginning of an era.

A time to experience new things and a life on your own.

But what if everything you’ve wanted you already have? For senior Ayah Ayesh, this was her reality. She has everything she’s ever dreamed of right at home, with the people who have assured her she can do absolutely anything–and that’s all she could ever want.

For Ayah, the decision to stay home was only natural. With five AP classes on her schedule and ever-changing “constants,” Ayah has faced a challenging year. Even though she could escape off to a college far away to pursue her dream of medicine, she decided that she wanted to stay at her home base, with the people that have supported her through every class and every chaotic moment.

“I want to stay with my family because over these past four years, there’s so many things that have changed like my friends, my classes, and my interests,” Ayah said. “But one thing that was constant the entire time was my family. I feel like I need them to guide me through [life] and to give me helpful advice.”

Not only has her family been her solid ground throughout the past few years, they have also been the inspiration for her dream of pursuing medicine at Grand Valley. Although Ayah first discovered science and her love for it during sixth-grade science experiments, it was not until she got her hands on AP course material that her parents encouraged her to take that she found a true connection.

I think helping people, not only in Palestine but all over the world, is a goal for myself. Not only to become, let’s say a doctor and open work in a hospital here in America but to travel all over the world and reach out to as many people as I can.

— Ayah Ayesh

However, these courses have given her endlessly more than she could have guessed. She came to realize that she got as much out of the classes as she put in, and with that in mind, she gave her everything.

“Each one of [the classes] obviously has changed me in a different way,” Ayah said. “They affected me a lot–the five AP classes. I think [they] really prepared me for what’s going to come for college because I don’t think I’ve had that much coursework or load in my entire life.”

While the classes she has taken have offered her practical knowledge, like how AP Biology has prepared her for the science aspect of her future career, other classes such as AP Psychology have given her real-world knowledge.

Psychology has given her an advantage to understanding her future patients and why they may behave the way they do. Ayah understands that not all illnesses are surface level, and she is excited to learn all the ways her current classes can benefit her with human interaction later on.

“I think [AP Psychology is] going to allow me to understand people more and that way, I could help them not only by meeting their needs physically but maybe mentally as well,” Ayah said. “Maybe there [are] other aspects of people’s behaviors besides what’s on the outside. And I think that’s something really important that the class taught me: everybody has some inner working inside.”

This deep craving to want to help people by understanding them has affected her desire to join the medical field in more ways than one. Ayah acknowledges that a medical degree, or any degree for that matter, is nothing without someone to share it with or someone to help.

Although the pull to become a doctor is strong, what she really desires is to be able to take her work to those in need, and by doing so, give her job purpose.

Inspired by her hometown in Palestine, Ayah has seen first-hand the tragedy that exists outside of America. Places like these are the very ones she wishes to travel to in order to provide some kind of relief.

“I think helping people, not only in Palestine but all over the world, is a goal for myself,” Ayah said. “Not only to become, let’s say a doctor and open work in a hospital here in America but to travel all over the world and reach out to as many people as I can. Because there [are] some people out there that could use just maybe a smile or just the basic check-ups; that can just help them out. But nobody really looks at that.”

Taking all of this into account and branching off of it, Ayah acknowledges that she would have nothing, not even a passion for medicine, without her parents. Coming from a family that never had the opportunity to pursue a degree, Ayah feels it is not her responsibility but her opportunity to be the first generation in her family to get the chance to gain a higher education.

Ayah was inspired by her parents’ journey and her father’s “rags to riches” story and further desired to make her parents proud by helping her father in their family business. Ayah realizes that although her job does not benefit her in her medical career, she knows that “we all [have to] contribute our part or else it’s not a family business.” And it’s something she loves to do.

Besides just contributing, Ayah finds that her job working at her father’s store has helped her gain a different perspective about people and human interaction, which could later on aid her while dealing with patients. Although she does deal with shoppers every day, her experience goes much further than just this. Ayah is able to see how deeply her father cares for each customer and she desires to reciprocate it in her own day-to-day life.

“He’s a very, very hard working man, and he has a really sweet heart, and he loves to help other people; he’s very generous,” Ayah said. “People would come into the store and just be looking like, ‘Oh, is that goat milk? Like from the farm?’ He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, you could take it, it could be for you.’ We only get like two bottles a day. [But] he doesn’t have a second thought about giving to others or helping others, and that’s the most inspiring thing about him.”

The story of her father offering free items is simply one example of why Ayah’s biggest inspiration is her father; he has proven that anything she puts her mind to can be achieved, and that no matter what, you should never be ashamed of where you came from.

Ayah acknowledges where she came from and how much her parents have gone through in order to give her everything she has now. So when all things are considered, it’s no surprise that Ayah wants to stay home. It’s where her family–the most important people in her life are–it’s where she was inspired to pursue her career; her life was built there, and it’s where she wishes to stay.

At the end of the day, that is one of the biggest reasons she cares so much about her family and wishes to stay with them: they have given her everything, and she only hopes to be able to do the same for others one day.

“We’re all very proud of him cause he puts his passion into everything [in] his life,” Ayah said. “I feel like our life is like a canvas of his; anything he does is like a piece of his old path. That’s something I want to do, to show that I’m Palestinian in different [things] I do, or that I was raised in at Forest Hills Central. I like to incorporate a piece of myself in everything I do.”