Between auditioning, taking classes and losing 147 pounds, Aishah El-Akkari, of Texas City, has had an eventful year and a half. After working to get in shape, the college student decided it would be fun to audition for COM’s production of “The Wedding Singer.”

“I’ve never sung for anybody, only in the shower, so I was really nervous. I almost left. As soon as I was about to get up, I heard, ‘Number four!’” That was her number, so she decided she to go through with the audition. Afterward, “I was convinced it was a horrible audition,” she said. A couple of days later she got a call asking if she wanted to be in the ensemble. She said yes.

 As part of the ensemble, she plays multiple roles. “It’s a lot of costume changes, but fun. It’s all new to me. I was really shy at first,” she said. Through rehearsals, she has become accustomed to singing in public—and to dancing. “I lost 10 pounds just by doing the dancing. It’s not easy,” she said.
She is continuing to work to get in shape—a goal she began a year and a half ago when she joined a gym for the first time. “In a month I lost 30 pounds just by going to the gym.” She continued working out and started changing what she ate. In six months, she lost 90 pounds. What’s her secret? “There’s nothing magic about it. It’s just diet and exercise,” she said.
She had been in director Rob de los Reyes’ acting class as a COM student, but when she returned to audition, he did not recognize her because she had lost so much weight. “I had to show him a picture of when I was in his class,” she said.
She enjoyed her time at COM and was glad to come back for the musical. “I met my best friend here. I was really involved in student activities. I just really felt comfortable on the campus,” she said.

She initially came to COM to take GED classes and after earning it, she stayed as a college student. She became president of the child development club and worked part-time at the College of Mainland Lab School, which gave her practical experience in education. After attending COM, she transferred to University of Houston–Clear Lake to major in education. She plans after graduation to move to New York and work with Teach for America.
“I just go off and try new things. Monday I’m supposed to go skydiving,” she said.