Finding one’s fit in society is so critical to success and overall health. When I think of where I am today, I know it is because of the many individuals who helped me along the way. For me, it began at home, growing up with the most amazing grandparents, parents and my five older sisters. While my happy childhood was interrupted and forever changed with the revolution of 1979, I continued to find unconditional love and support at home.

Perhaps the most powerful lesson was learning about myself: my fears, limitations, dreams, strengths, passions and my values. In Farsi we have a saying and the translation is “to know God, you must know yourself”; I have always found this to be true and have spent all my life getting to know myself. As I’m getting older, I find myself honoring who I am becoming, weaknesses, limitations, fears and all.

I have always been extremely fortunate to have found the right fits for me. One of the best decisions I made was to visit Canisius College one summer afternoon, not specifically looking at any particular program. I asked direction from someone I didn’t know at the time, was going to become one of my most influential mentors. She guided me in the direction I was headed and handed me a brochure about a masters program I had never heard, which I took home and didn’t look at until later that evening.

I realize something now as I’m writing this, Dr. Margaret McCarthy didn’t have to sell me the Higher Education and Student Affairs Graduate program, she, being her kind, humble and gentle self, created a safe environment for me and put me at ease as I was faced to make a big decision.

My Canisius Chapter and the people I crossed path with while I was there have so much to do with who I am today.

Of course, I wouldn’t have known Canisius if it wasn’t for Dr. McCarthy. She was and continues to be a great source of strength and the best mentor I could have ever asked for. She is respectful, non-judgemental, always available, extremely kind and always made me feel like I belonged. I met so many wonderful individuals at Canisius, and the late Father Flanagan was among them. Father Flanagan was my Thesis Advisor and he had his work cut out for him. While I have always had a passion for writing, English is my second language, and I can only imagine how much extra work my writings must have been for him. He always reminded me of my “love” for commas, which I have been reminded about by others including Dr. McCarthy.

Working in Residence Life, I had the opportunity to learn about the field of Student Affairs from the best and most caring professionals, Kathryn Philliben, Dr. Thomas Miller, Matt Mulville, Al Pilato and of course my very first Residence Life Staff, Sara, Lenny, A.J., Dawn and Maria who were the hardest working team of Resident Advisors one could ask for.

I had the pleasure of living in and managing the Village Townhouses and that’s where I learned the most about my leadership skills. I started to practice what I was learning in my classes in the field, on campus, and in my residence halls.

I am very grateful for my education at Canisius College and for being selected among the Distinguished Alumni and be part of Canisius Proud Campaign. At Canisius “You Can” dream big and find the right level of support to turn your dreams into beautiful realities while serving others and make the World a better place.

Thank you Canisius College!