Wayne State dropout earns opportunity to work with NASA after returning to finish school
(CBS DETROIT) - From Wayne State dropout to working with NASA, a Metro Detroit man is defying all the odds.
But if you ask Ziyad Muflahi, the road to get here has been a long one.
"I was born in Yemen. We immigrated here when I was about 4 years old. We moved to Detroit first. It was me, my father, my mother and my brother," Muflahi says,
When it was time for high school, Muflahi and his family moved over to Dearborn Heights where he would graduate from Crestwood High School.
Soon after, Muflahi went to Wayne State University, but he did so with a heavy heart after losing the one man he looked up to, his father.
"My dad was, it might sound corny but, he was my hero," Muflahi said as he held back tears.
The pressure to perform in the classroom weighed heavily, so much so it cost him his seat in the classroom.
"I performed extremely poorly in my time here at Wayne State. After three semesters, they kind of said that 'We are not confident in your ability to perform. Maybe you should go visit a community college,'" Muflahi said.
He was forced to drop out. However, it wasn't long before Muflahi began to find his footing transferring to Henry Ford College, then to the University of Michigan in Dearborn double majoring in psychology and business studies.
But surprisingly enough, that wasn't his last stop. Muflahi returned to Wayne State to finish what he started.
"I found myself avoiding Detroit because of all the bad memories. It was nice to come back," Muflahi said.
After years of hard work and putting his psychology degree to the test, Ziyad finally got his big break with the largest space agency on the planet: NASA.
"I was in bed on Zoom call in class and of course, I get an email and you get the subject line that says NASA Michigan Space Grant. I thought it was my rejection letter," Muflahi says.
"I had to read it like maybe two or three times before it really sunk in that they picked me!" Muflahi added.
And while he is now tasked with a research project that is top secret, Muflahi can only imagine what his father would say now.
"He would be a little disappointed that I didn't pursue my passion sooner. He was always telling me, 'Do what you want and do it to the best.' But I'm happy that I found my passion and I'm sure that he'd be happy that I'm happy," Muflahi says.
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