Oregon State wrestler and Kinesiology student Ali Alshujery has been named one of four recipients of the 2017 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A).
A senior from Portland, Ali will receive his award on June 10, during the 2017 N4A Convention Awards Luncheon at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The award honors student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic, and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Recipients may not be the best athletes or students, and may not have been recognized by other organizations or awards.
Nonetheless, they have persevered and made significant personal strides toward success.
“It is a thrill and an honor to receive this award,” Ali says. “I would like to thank my parents [Kahlid and Heiam Alshujery] who sacrificed so much and did everything they possibly could for me.”
“I thank Michael Johnson in the Sports Performance Center, teammates and assistant coaches Austin Moorhead and Mike Mangrum, and the entire Oregon State coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to wrestle.
“The academic support staff – Ardell Bailey, Mario Gabini and Natalie Nakic – all worked with me to help me become the first member of my immediate family who will graduate from college. I can’t thank them enough.”
Ali grew up in Iraq, and experienced and saw things no young person should ever have to witness. Members of his family went missing, were tortured, or were killed.
Ali, his father and other family members fled to Syria in an attempt to escape the conflict in Iraq. Despite being safe from bombing, his family was subjected to discrimination, hate, and bullying.
However, in 2008 representatives of the United Nations decided that his family’s situation was critical. His family was relocated to Portland, where an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher told him about wrestling.
After initial hesitation, he soon realized he had the talent in the sport and he joined the team at Franklin High School. He won four letters in wrestling, was the team captain his junior and senior seasons, and went 101-19 lifetime.
He also lettered three years in football as a linebacker/running back and was team captain and a Portland Interscholastic League all-star as a senior year. An honor roll student, he graduated with a 3.75 grade-point average and enrolled at Oregon State in Sept., 2013.
He then joined the wrestling team, only to discover he was not cleared academically by the NCAA. The following season, he was cleared to compete, but suffered a torn ACL in the first tournament of the season. The following year, he re-tore his ACL one week before wrestling started.
Despite the adversity, Alshujery continues to work, practice, rehab, and study. He will graduate in March, 2018, with a BS in kinesiology and a a minor in photography. He plans to continue to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
“All of the recipients represent the spirit and achievement of Wilma Rudolph through their determination and education,” said N4A President Kenneth Miles, assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs & executive director for the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes at LSU.
“Their profound impact is exponential and a model for all of us. It is with great distinction that we applaud their accomplishments.
“Wilma Rudolph reminds us that, ‘Triumph can’t be had without struggle,’ and struggle is the first step towards making progress. I know our recipients will continue to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable because they are choosing their destiny.”
This year’s other honorees are Amber Brown of Norfolk State; Kelly Buyaskas of East Stroudsburg University; D’Cota Dixon of Wisconsin; and Nicholas Kern of UCLA.
For more information on the Oregon State wrestling team, follow the club’s official Twitter account at Twitter.com/Beaverwrestling, or by Facebook at Facebook.com/OregonStateWrestling.