International Student to Receive Physics Award

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Meet 17 year-old Cephas Ayellakai, Gateway Community College’s star physics student. Ayellakai, born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, came to live in the United States just two short years ago and is a second year student at GCC. In addition to boasting a 4.0 GPA and receiving top grades in the Anatomy and Physiology Program here at GCC, Ayellakai is the only student ever in GCC’s Physics for the Life and Sciences course to receive a perfect score. That’s three exams and 11, yes 11 labs.   

Math and Sciences Department Chair R.E. Tremblay, who also happens to be Ayellakai’s physics professor, says, “Students like Cephas are a gift.” Tremblay, having recently published a physics textbook in pursuit of making the subject more accessible to his students, flipped through the pages of his new book (which is chock full of formulas and conversions) and says proudly, “Cephas knows ALL of this.” Ayellakai humbly smiles and nodded in agreement.  

In addition to his gifted right brain abilities, Ayellakai also is an exceptional writer. Tremblay states, “It’s remarkable that he’s only been in the United States for two years and even his written English is superb.” Ayellakai submitted a testimonial about his professor’s newly published textbook. The publisher contacted Tremblay pointing out the student’s exceptional writing abilities, unaware and astounded to learn that English was not his first language.  

When asked if school just comes easily to him, Ayellakai shrugs. “My dad started teaching me more extensive math problems starting in first grade. I guess it just kind of stuck with me.” While Ayellakai is clearly a gifted student, he spends a great deal of time studying and practicing his craft. Tremblay attests to this, “Cephas is determined to succeed and this should be a major takeaway for students. Yes, he is gifted, but he really does put in the necessary time and effort.  You have to put in the work if you want to be successful, in anything you do.”   

Ayellakai will be receiving the Star Physics Student Award this upcoming spring semester at GCC’s annual award convocation ceremony. At the end of each academic semester, faculty recognizes outstanding students, Ayellakai included. Tremblay will present the award to his star student for having the highest grade in “Physics for the life sciences” for the 2017/2018 academic year. Ayellakai expressed how honored he is to receive the award, however, by that time he hopes to be accepted and partaking in Southern Connecticut  State  University’s  nursing program. 

“I actually received my acceptance letter to Southern yesterday!” Ayellakai, although still fairly young, is sure that he wants to pursue a career in healthcare, to become a doctor. He owes a lot of credit to GCC: “There was no better place to kick off my educational career than at Gateway.” While he’s not 100% set on the direction of his career, it’s clear that he will be an incredible asset to whatever field he chooses. Way to go!