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Vakhshoori Scholarship Recipients for school year 2011-2012


Sunoz SorooshSunoz "Sunny" Soroosh is a second year Masters of Public Health student at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the Sociomedical Sciences' Health Promotion Track. She did her undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with honors and also received a degree in Public Health. She is an Iranian-American Zoroastrian and a native of San Jose, California. Sunoz has participated in several prestigious internship programs in Public Health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and the New York City Department of Health. She has also worked at the San Mateo County Department of Health and the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs. She has worked in several health-related fields including HIV/AIDS, Diabetes Prevention, Emergency Preparedness, Occupational Safety/Health, and Geriatric Health. Sunoz has presented her research at national conferences, including the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. She is also a recipient of the 2010 Laura Jane Buck Memorial Scholarship from the Iranian-American Scholarship Fund and the Community Scholars Award Scholarship from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her educational goals include obtaining a nursing degree and PhD, and becoming both a Public Health Nurse and a college professor. She hopes to work and do research in minority communities, specifically her own Zoroastrian community, to promote healthy behaviors and reduce preventable diseases. It is her goal to help eliminate the health disparities that exist in the United States today. In her spare time, Sunoz enjoys all types of dancing, especially Persian dance!

Sunoz is very passionate about her religion, and studied Zoroastrianism at UC Berkeley with Professor Martin Schwartz during her time there. She feels very thankful and blessed to be the recipient of the Vakhshoori Scholarship, as it will help her to reach her educational and career goals. Her biggest inspirations are her parents, because they came to the U.S. from Iran as teenagers and were able to become very educated and successful in their careers, despite the various challenges they faced in coming to a new country. She hopes to be as successful as they are someday.

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Bahman SotoodianBahman Sotoodian was born and brought up in a Zoroastrian family in Tehran. At the age of 17, he left Iran in search of a brighter future. For four months, he resided on his own in India where he completed his grade 12 and learned to converse in English. After immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, he studied Electronic Engineering at Simon Fraser University. While working part time and studying, his educational and research achievements brought upon him numerous scholarships that further motivated him to pursue his exciting vision. During his final year of study with the assistance of his colleagues, he satisfied his inner sense of curiosity and innovation by designing and patenting a device which may impact dentistry in the near future. However, through following the footsteps of great role models, his parents, Mr. Sotoodian found a new passion in his life. Through shadowing his dad and volunteering at different hospitals nationally and internationally, he gained valuable experiences that inspired him to embrace medicine for his future career. Bahman has just commenced his clerkship rotations at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Besides the joy of studying, he spends his spare time backpacking in different countries and volunteering for winter sports, skiing and snowboarding world cups.

As the past president of Zoroastrian Youth Organization of B.C., Bahman has greatly enjoyed to be involved in his religious community and to serve in any capacity that is bounded to his limitations. He hopes that Zoroastrian youth will revive our community, strength our unity and move the Zoroastrian communities towards a brighter future.

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Arsham ShahlariArsham Shahlari was born and raised in Iran in a Zoroastrian family. He finished high school in Iran and attended two years of college in Iran. During his college years in Iran he was involved with the Center for Zoroastrian Students. At this center he and other members of the center were involved in the organization of the annual Zoroastrian Olympics in 2003, the annual Camp for Zoroastrian teenagers in 2003, and the annual competition for religious research and Gatha study in 2003.

Arsham migrated from Iran to the United States at the age of twenty to be closer to relatives, and to achieve greater prosperity and happiness. He finished his undergraduate studies in the field of Mechanical Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla) with highest honors. He worked as a consultant to the environmental compliance industry for 6 month and to the pharmaceutical compliance industry for more than a year after finishing his undergraduate studies. After this working period, he decided to continue his studies in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Arsham’s research topic for graduate studies is “Engine Knock Analysis”, and he is performing this research as a research assistant at the Engine Research Center at the UW-Madison. “The Engine Research Center (ERC) is a world-leading research and educational institution dedicated to investigating the fundamental thermo-physical processes that control combustion performance and the pollutant emissions formed during combustion in internal combustion engines.” (The ERC webpage)

For the past seven years that Arsham has lived in the United States, he has been active within local Zoroastrian community organizations, including ZAKA (the Zoroastrian Association of Kansas) and the California Zoroastrian Center in Southern California.

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Sanaiya SarkariSanaiya Sarkari was born and raised in Bombay, India. She is currently a second year undergraduate student in Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While at Georgia Tech she has held many leadership positions and sat on several philanthropic boards. She served as Junior CPC Delegate for her sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon. Sanaiya was also a Project Coordinator for Team Buzz and Tech Beautification Day. Sanaiya is part of Gamma Beta Phi honor society, and has done so well academically that she is on the Dean's List. She has also spent her summer interning at the Biomedical Engineering Department of Atlanta's Saint Joseph Hospital, performing preventive maintenance on medical equipment and learning more about advanced diagnostic medical devices.

In the upcoming semester, Sanaiya hopes to join a tissue engineering lab where she will gain research experience. Sanaiya is also excited to participate in the study abroad program as she enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures.

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Bahrom_Firozgary.JPGBahrom Firozgary was born and raised in Houston, Texas and is currently a sophomore at Rice University. The son of Mahnaaz and Farrokh Firozgary and grandson of Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, he is also an Ervard and has been actively participating in Jashans, Navjotes and Gahambars in the Houston Zoroastrian community. After graduating as the co-valedictorian of his high school, Bahrom is now studying biochemistry and cellular biology with the intent of attending medical school after he obtains his Bachelor of Science degree. Aside from academics, Bahrom is involved with Rice’s club basketball team and is also a head academic mentor. When he is not on campus, he is involved with the Zoroastrian Association of Houston and its youth group, volunteering within the Houston community and also hosting various informative sessions regarding Zoroastrianism. Bahrom works in the Texas Medical Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in the department of infectious diseases. His goal is to help his generation become more proactive in the North American Zoroastrian community. He intends to spread information about the religion not only within the Zoroastrian community but also in the non-Zoroastrian community by getting more involved with various religious and community organizations.

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Shirin SardarShirin Sardar was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. In 2005 she received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Tehran. Sardar continued her studies in 2007 received her Master’s degree in Theoretical Mathematics from Mazandaran University.

After graduating with her Master’s degree, she immigrated to the United States. She spent the first two years after immigration pursuing various jobs which expanded her experience and gave her a different perspective on the many walks of life. Sardar considers these to have been golden days because she started with the most basic jobs and gradually progressed. Sardar learned how to communicate with people from different races, cultures, and ways of life.

After working at the various physical jobs Sardar was accepted in the graduate program at Rice University studying Computational and Applied Mathematics. She has been studying for the past two and half years and loves it because of the challenging material. Her expected date of graduation is May 2014.

After Sardar graduates she hopes to work in industry for a short time and eventually open a small business (She is still searching and learning for this long term goal). Sardar is deeply connected with her Zoroastrian heritage and she has contributed and will continue contributing by helping family members and friends immigrate and settle in the USA. One day she would also like to initiate a school for Zoroastrians from Pakistan, India and Iran. This school would be comparable to private schools with affordable prices and it use Zoroastrian professionals.

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Farhan PanthakiFarhan Panthaki was born in Mumbai, India, and lived in Dubai, U.A.E for 7 years before moving to Mississauga, Canada in 2000. He is currently studying Honours Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario Canada, and has just completed his first co-op work term, working with a company that manufactured structural, wing, and landing gear components for major commercial and military aircraft. While there, he also developed a mathematical model for calculating the natural frequency of the CNC machining tools as part of vibration analysis. Farhan is now starting his second year of the program, and performed extremely well in the previous year, finishing 5th overall out of the 200 mechanical engineers in first term, and 2nd overall during the second term. Prior to this, during the year before high school graduation, Farhan was also accepted into the DaVinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) held at the University of Toronto. Currently, his primary educational goal is to work towards graduating with Dean’s Honours, a distinction that only few achieve.

Farhan also does a lot of volunteer work and has led or participated in many events. He currently has over 300 hours of service with various organizations such as Scouts Canada, and he has been active within the different institutions he has attended. He is also actively involved in the Zoroastrian community and after completing his Navar Ceremony in 2004, has performed numerous religious ceremonies and has even taken the role as head Dastoor during the Muktaad and Navroz prayers for the ZSO (Zoroastrian Society of Ontario) and the OZCF (Ontario Zoroastrian Community Foundation). Farhan has also taken an extensive leadership role volunteering as a leader for the OZCF Summer Camp, where along with the help of other young leaders, he planned, organised, and ran the camp for over 30 children involved with the foundation. After graduating from Religion Classes himself, Farhan became an assistant teacher, helping younger Zoroastrians learn more about the religion.

Currently, Farhan is also taking many leadership roles, the most notable of which is his selection to be the Mechanical Engineering Class Academic Representative and act as an ambassador to represent over 120 students. He is also still getting involved wherever possible, and in recognition of his achievements, was selected to serve as a global scholar representing Canada at the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) and the National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC), and has been presented with several other awards. He has been able to achieve a lot of success through hard work and dedication.

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