Honors student graduation speaker realizes full potential while at Wayne State

Laial Beidoun has always had a self-proclaimed interest in politics and law. She loves discussing it, so when she decided to

Laial Beidoun speaking at podium in cap and gown
Laial Beidoun speaking at the 2019 Honors Commencement Ceremony

enroll at Wayne State as a freshmen in 2015, a degree in political science just seemed right.

Now, four years later, complete with her B.A. in liberal arts & sciences and a major in Political Science, Beidoun stood behind the podium of Community Arts Auditorium to deliver the Honors College's student graduation address. Her message to her fellow graduates was a simple one - the importance of reaching out to achieve one's highest potential while embracing the opportunities that are presented along the way.

Beidoun, a first-generation college student born to immigrant parents, said she barely graduated high school, wasn't involved in any extra-curricular activities and faced a transition from a culturally dominated society where the expectation wasn't to go out and get an education but to get married to a public university setting where one could strive for whatever they wanted to be.

From there, she shared how to experiences at Wayne State and in the Honors College helped shape who she is today.

"It wasn't my resume that I wanted them (graduates) to take with them, (it was) that I realized that my life had no limits and that I had that limit set for me in my hometown," she continued. "But going through the Honors College and Wayne State, that limit was taken off and that I could actually reach for my highest potential as a person and find that in myself."

She quickly realized that early on, after speaking with her political science advisor, that there was no limits to how high she could reach during her time at Wayne State and in the Honors College.

"He was able to guide me through what my potential was, and for the first time I heard that I could become whatever I wanted to be," she said. "This was something that I wasn't used to hearing."

Not only did she major in political science with departmental honors, she started her own non-profit organization Mission Possible, which dedicates its time and efforts to performing various accounts of charity work for all who seek aid, assistance or voluntary community service. According to Beidoun, Mission Possible concentrates on promoting peace, equality and diversity within their team and the communities the organization serves, supporting unity amongst all races and ethnicities and taking on the responsibility of seeking endless opportunities to help improve and strengthen

"We don't care who you are, where you come from, what your situation is. If you need help, we will go for it," Beidoun said. "The entire mission is about inclusivity, diversity, and multi-cultural programming."

Laial Beidoun smiling for camera
Laial Beidoun at Mission Possible fundraiser

Beidoun started Mission Possible in August 2017 after looking around and seeing a need for a charity organization in Detroit that does work for anybody and everybody.

"I just went all in," she said. "I thought up the idea, gathered some friends and we just worked hard until we were able to get as many people working as possible." Mission Possible has done school supply drives, back to school projects, fed the homeless at Thanksgiving and adopted children at Christmas.

In the past year, Beidoun has seen Mission Possible grow from just a student organization on Wayne State's campus to a full-fledge non-profit that has expanded to include student organizations at Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Oakland University and University of Detroit Mercy. "We don't care who you are. If you have this sense of feeling like you want to give back to your community, join our mission and you will have the opportunity to do so," Beidoun said.

In addition to running her own non-profit, she has also been a Legal Intern at Berman Law in Bloomfield, a File Clerk at Bodman PLC in Detroit, a Legislative Intern for 39th District House of Representative State Rep Ryan Berman and currently is a Wayne United Intern for the Wayne County Executive's Office, where she is working on the upcoming Wayne County census.

She also found time to organize a second organization on campus called We Rise, a women's networking and advocacy group where girls can connect with each other, share a meal and talk about each other's accomplishments and achievements. "We just try and build some self-confidence off of each other," she said.

All of these experiences has fueled a passion and a desire for policy work, which is why she will be applying to law schools beginning in the fall, breaking away from the stereotypical job role her parents wanted her to go into. "They were scared, but once they saw how much fun I was having and the credibility that I was gaining in the community and outside, they realized that it was meant for me."

"They are the proudest," she said when asked how her parents felt about her graduating. "My mom cried when I put my cap and gown on. I'm the first kid out of the family to get a college education at a four-year university and for them to watch one of their kid's graduate that is a big deal for them."

Beidoun is quickly becoming a strong voice in her community when it comes to talking about breaking the stereotypical female roles. People come up and thank her for being willing to talk about the misogynistic values of the community and the impact that she is beginning to make.

Laial Beidoun smiling holding International Women's Day sign
Laial Beidoun at a We Rise sponsored International Women's Day fundraiser

She gives credit to Wayne State and the Honors College for helping her reach her full potential.

"Every time I wanted to give up, the Honors College was there to guide me, (saying) 'No, you can't give up. You're tired, but

you need to keep going,'" she said. "They provided the best support, they provided the best advice. They are there to be a helping hand throughout the entire process, especially for someone who didn't have that back home or have anyone else in their personal life to help guide them through college. So the Honors College really helped me through that and they instilled opportunities in me definitely from the beginning."

Her advice to students coming from her situation is simple - take a chance and step outside your comfort zone to begin to realize your fullest potential.

"Nothing is easy. I came from nothing as a person and I have risen more than I could have ever imagined, and I struggled and I failed almost every single day, but the struggles were so much greater than any hardship. The success that I gained takes away from all of it," Beidoun said. "There is beauty in the struggle definitely, and if you want something that you never had, you have to go ahead and do something that you never did. And that is definitely worth taking the chances of being at a public university and moving outside of your comfort zone."

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