Aya Osman is a young woman who has shown incredible courage and determination in her life. She has fought and survived cancer, graduated from high school with a 4.7 GPA, and earned a scholarship to study at New York University, where she plans to become a neurologist.
Aya’s journey began when she was 12 years old and her older sister spotted a lump on her neck. She went to the doctor and found out that she had cancer. She had to go through six months of chemotherapy, which was tough and scary.
But Aya did not let cancer bring her down. She loved playing the piano and she used it as a way to cope with her situation. She also stayed on top of her schoolwork with the help of her mother, who brought her a laptop to the hospital every day.
“I’m pretty good at making situations lighthearted so I was cracking jokes here and there,” Aya said in an interview with Action News Jax.
Aya has been in remission for two years now, and she has graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Florida. She was involved in many clubs and activities, such as Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Science Honor Society, debate, multicultural club, earth club, college readiness, Future Business leaders of America, academic team, senior board, soccer and track.
Aya has always had a passion for science and the human body, and she knew since she was 12 that she wanted to be a neurologist. She said that she was inspired by watching documentaries about the brain and reading books by Oliver Sacks, a famous neurologist and author.
“I think the brain is the most complex organ in the body and it’s responsible for everything we do, so I want to learn more about it and help people who have neurological disorders,” Aya said.
Aya received a scholarship to study at New York University from the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps families tackle childhood cancer with financial, emotional and practical support. The Jay Fund was founded by Tom Coughlin, a former NFL coach who lost one of his players, Jay McGillis, to leukemia. The Jay Fund has helped over 5,600 families and given away over $20 million in grants since 1996.
Aya is one of the many faces of black excellence who deserve to be celebrated for their resilience, determination and achievements. She is an inspiration to many young people who are facing challenges or pursuing their dreams.
“I want to tell them to never give up on their goals and to always have faith in themselves,” Aya said. “Anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.”
Aya is a true fighter and deserves all the celebrations and praises. Another lady doing the magic is Alanka Babb. She was born with macular dystrophy, a rare eye condition that causes progressive vision loss and cannot be cured or corrected. She grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Guyana, where education was not a priority and disability support was nonexistent. She struggled to see the blackboard and read books, but she never gave up on her dreams.
She taught herself how to read at 13 by borrowing books from the library and falling in love with reading. She graduated from college in Guyana without any accommodations for her visual impairment. She moved to the US in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in counseling education, where she learned about the Americans with Disabilities Act and received the support she needed to thrive academically.
She completed her master’s degree in 2019 and enrolled in a PhD program in education at Liberty University in 2020. She successfully defended her dissertation in 2022, becoming one of the few visually impaired people to earn a PhD in the US. Her research focused on the experiences of students with disabilities in higher education. Continue reading about Alanka here.
Alanka and Aya are super heroes. Absolute warriors and go-getters. Keep going higher and higher.