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Vakhshoori Scholarship Recipients for school year 2017-2018


Farin Yazdani

Farin Yazdani  was born in Tehran, Iran. Farin and her family moved to the United States when Farin was about 11 years old. Farin attended the University of California Los Angeles where she majored in Psychobiology and received her Bachelor of Science in 2016. She is currently a first-year medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

 During her four years as a premed undergraduate at UCLA, Farin became involved in a variety of activities that shaped her character. One of her most noteworthy experiences comes from four years of conducting research in the Molecular, Medical, and Pharmacology department of UCLA. Specifically, she analyzed the intoxicating effects of alcohol on GABA receptor protein subunit composition and sub-cellular localization correlated with behavioral pharmacology, as they pertain to alcohol use disorders. In 2015, Farin conducted an independent project comparing anxiety behavioral responses produced by acute and chronic alcohol treatment leading to dependence in rats. Her results made her one of the first authors of a publication in the Molecular Pharmacology journal. Furthermore, Farin has been a leader in the nonprofit organization of Persian American Society for Health Advancement which aims to improve health conditions among vulnerable Persian communities locally and internationally. As president, she worked with a great team of dedicated board members to organize a fundraiser that helped provide financial support for providing affordable eye care treatments to visually impaired individuals in Tajikistan. Farin also served as the first peer learning teaching assistant for a newly designed undergraduate course which applied the fundamentals of calculus on modeling biological systems. She used her background in biology and calculus to first learn the subject herself, while at the same time teaching the material to over 70 students during 6 sessions each week.

Pledge:

I believe that our community relies on its members to help improve its current status and make it more prominent. One example of my recent major involvement was working towards establishing a committee that selected and rewarded local Zoroastrian members who greatly contributed to the Zoroastrian community. During this process, I learned about the collective effort of a group of highly dedicated individuals who helped establish the current standing of our community. Therefore, I find it as my duty to continue to actively contribute my time and effort towards improving our community to an even higher standing. I also find it important to introduce Zoroastrian children to our community at a young age through engaging and fun activities. I helped organize different dance performances for young Zoroastrian girls in order to create a fun opportunity for them to make friends and feel involved in Zoroastrian events. Ultimately, I pledge to continue taking initiative in organizing projects that further establish our Zoroastrian community.

Watch Farin's video by clicking here


Shirin Asgari

Shirin Asgari currently is a first year Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) student at Marshall B. Ketchum University in California. She was born in Tehran, Iran and brought to the United States when she was 14 years old. she attended high school in San Diego, CA and was directly admitted to a four-year university in 2012. She received her bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from University of California, Irvine in 2016. As an undergraduate, she also did an independent research study in the Developmental and Cell Biology field.

 She was an active member of Zoroastrian community in San Diego. She oversaw our youth organization, she taught Zoroastrian kids Avesta lessons every Sunday for three months. On the other hand, since she has moved to Orange County, she has become part of a much larger Zoroastrian community.

 In her undergraduate studies, she was an active member of my community. she was one of the cofounders of the Zoroastrian Student Association at UC Irvine. Additionally, she has been an active member of our church by participating in religious and community services. In summer 2017, she was one of the counselors at the Zoroastrian Youth Camping event in Santa Barbara hosted by the Southern California Zoroastrian Center (SCZC) to help our Zoroastrian youth to have a positive experience.

 She is an active member of the Southern California Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH). Recently, she volunteered at Anaheim Annual Health Fair in Orange County and Glendale Annual Health Fair in Los Angeles along with a faculty member and several other O.D. students and provided vision services to those in need.

 Upon graduation, she plan to pursue a post-doctoral clinical training in Ocular Diseases Residency Program. In an immediate future, she plan to have her own practice to serve her community in Orange County and travel overseas to help those in need.

Pledge:

I would like to mentor the Zoroastrian youths in their studies and help them learn from my experiences. I am interested in making a difference in the lives of my fellow Zoroastrian youth. I plan to provide a positive role-modeling and encourage academic and personal success. I will help the students with their college applications either into going to four-year universities or graduate schools. I can make time to answer any question the mentees have via email or phone calls, or even meet up with them in person. I can help students make plans for college and how to build their resume. I will take the time to get to know my mentees and help them in their important life decisions. In return, the rewards that I gain are as substantial as those for my mentees. I will have the chance to feel more productive and enhance my relationship with the youth in the Zoroastrian community. I would like to encourage my mentees to do the same and help foster their roles as future leaders in the Zoroastrian community.

Watch Shirin's video by clicking here


Farin Bakhtiari

Farin Bakhtiari was born and raised in Kerman, Iran. Farin and her family moved to the U.S. when she was 19. Over the years, the Zoroastrian community played an essential role in development of her identity, skills, and goals. In Iran, as a teenager, she volunteered at the Zoroastrian recreational center (Ardeshir Hemati) in Kerman and held basketball practice sessions for children. She started playing basketball at the same center when she was 8 and went on to play at national games. Before moving to the U.S., Farin lived in Tehran for a short time where she was an active member of the Society of Zoroastrian Student or Kanoon-e Daneshjooyan-e Zartoshti (Kanoon). At Kanoon, she was an active member where she shared her newly found passion for Shahnameh recital at various events with the Zoroastrian community members. She also developed her leadership skills at Kanoon where she helped organize multiple religious and cultural events.

He changed his field to Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering in his Ph.D. program and currently he is a researcher in Air Transportation Systems Laboratory. His research area is related to simulating the flights over the Atlantic Oceanic region and optimizing the aircrafts’ trajectories to reduce the air traffic congestion and delays in oceanic airspaces. Now, Arman is engaging in his research with high motivation since he believes that the advantages of this project is going to provide welfare and convenience for tons of people by saving their time and also reduce the amount of fuel and emission to our environment.

After moving to the U.S., Farin continued to stay an active member of the Zoroastrian community. She joined the Zoroastrian youth group affiliated with California Zoroastrian Center in Los Angeles, and she volunteered as the master of ceremonies and recited poems at many events at California Zoroastrian Center in Orange Country. She also organized Shahnameh recital groups in which she collaborated with many talented Zoroastrian youth to organize creative productions. Farin took part in these activities mostly during her first 4 years in the U.S., as she was working on her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at California State University Northridge (CSUN). As she started her master’s degree in general experimental psychology at CSUN, she became more occupied with her education. However, she continued to stay an active member of the Zoroastrian community through other avenues. Specifically, in her master’s program, she collaborated with her advisor (Dr. Scott Plunkett) to conduct a study focused on family qualities and mental health of Zoroastrian young adults in North America. Farin co-authored a comprehensive report that was widely disseminated in the Zoroastrian community (https://zoroastriansnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/2015_bakhtiari_plunk...). The results of this research shed light on the strengths of Zoroastrian families and some of the challenges that Zoroastrian young adults face. Farin hopes the results from this project will help bring awareness about Zoroastrians to non-Zoroastrians (particularly mental health professionals).

Currently, Farin is a doctoral student at University of Texas at Austin working on her PhD. in Human Development and Family Sciences, and she continues to research family qualities in relation to well-being of youth in minority and immigrant families.

Pledge:

I will strive to continue to cherish the opportunities available in the Zoroastrian community and to grow and give back to our community through mentorship, research, and/or cultural activities. My vision for the Zoroastrian community is for us to better understand how our distinctive experiences (e.g., immigration, refugee status, discrimination, acculturation) affect our adjustment in this modern era. The research project that I conducted during my master’s with Zoroastrian young adults in North America was a step towards enhancing our understanding about Zoroastrian young adults’ perception of their family dynamics and their mental health. The findings will allow the community leaders to provide targeted and culturally appropriated programs for Zoroastrian youth and their families. I would like to better develop my skills as a community presenter, and hold educational and practical workshops to help families recognize their strengths as well as challenges and learn strategies (e.g., communication skills) to better address those challenges. Many Zoroastrian centers around the world (including North America) hold regular religious classes for Zoroastrian children and adolescents. I believe these classes are ideal opportunities to teach youth about communication and stress management skills as well as mental health resources. I am also eager to bring more awareness about Zoroastrians to non-Zoroastrians, and I believe that academic research can make strong contributions to achieving this goal. More awareness among professional non-Zoroastrians (e.g., university counselors) can allow them to utilize more culturally appropriate treatments and/or resources for Zoroastrian individuals.

Watch Farin's video by clicking here


Michelle Anjirbag

Michelle Anjirbag is a first year PhD student at the University of Cambridge, working on a PhD in Children’s Literature. She is interested in diversity and representations of agency in children’s literature and film, cultural and national identity, and adaptation of fairy tales, folklore, and cultural epics. She is also a current Rotary International Global Grant Scholar. She grew up in a small town in Connecticut before going to the University of Connecticut, where she earned a BA in English with a creative writing concentration and double minors in anthropology and Native American and Indigenous studies. She went on to complete her MSc in Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romantic, Victorian at the University of Edinburgh as a Rotary International Service Above Self scholar. Her dissertation was titled “Liminality, Transgression, and Moralizing in the Original Fairy Tales of George MacDonald, E. Nesbit, Angela Carter, and Neil Gaiman.” She is also a published essayist and journalist.

Pledge:

I am very passionate about the role that culture plays in the development of an individual. Being a Zoroastrian, our community values assimilation and living in peace and harmony. This has enabled us to co-exist in India and all over the world, while maintaining a strong cultural identity. I take great pride in my Zoroastrian roots and feel it is essential for individuals to be connected to their own culture and learn from each other.

Watch Michelle's video by clicking here


Zarius Dubash

Zarius Dubash was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and grew up in nearby Shrewsbury, where his mother, father, and younger sister continue to reside. He attended the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough, graduating in 2017 with honors. Zarius is currently a first-year student at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts studying Technology Entrepreneurship.

While in high school, Zarius was elected three years in a row to Student Government to represent his class. He has held other leadership positions and participated actively in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Ten80 Racing, and the school's Speech and Debate team, where he competed and excelled in the Group Discussion category. In his senior year, Zarius was the recipient of the school's engineering award. An avid skier, Zarius has worked at a local ski area, giving group and individual downhill skiing lessons to kids and adults. He was a member of his high school’s varsity tennis team and led as the captain during his senior year.

Zarius has been active in ZAGBA (Zoroastrian Association of Greater Boston Area) for as long as he can remember, helping out at Jashan Gahambar events, participating in youth activities and performances for Norooz, and attending religious education classes. He has helped lead volunteer events in the community including a successful shoe collection drive and community gardening. He has joined other Zoroastrians in the greater Boston area in meal packing events, serving food at homeless shelters and volunteering at Cradles to Crayons. He currently works with other college students at an after school program for local elementary and middle school students. Zarius has been to three Zoroastrian North American Congresses and three Zoroastrian youth camps in Houston, TX where he has made lifelong friends.

Zarius'passions include technology, cars, music, tennis, skiing, and biking. He enjoys traveling, with his most recent adventures in Barcelona. At Babson, he is active with Toastmasters, Politics Club, Cryptocurrency Club, and Community Action Program, in which he works with underprivileged children as a friend and mentor. Zarius wants to use his education, experience, and Zarathushti faith to change the world and make a tangible impact. He is honored and humbled by this honor.

Pledge:

My personal pledge to the Zoroastrian community consists of offers to mentor other youth and assist the Vakhshoori Foundation.

As someone who has been through one of the top rated and most challenging high schools in the country and successfully navigated the complicated college admissions process, I believe that I will be able to continue to help more youth and parents in the Zoroastrian community with general answers and guidance through the college admission process. I am especially knowledgeable about standardized testing, and have tutored many friends including Zarathushti community members for the ACT and other college-related exams. I scored 35 out of 36 on the ACT (99th percentile) and I believe that the Foundation will be able to connect me with more high school students who could benefit from my suggestions in preparing for these exams. I can also help students with college admissions essays, having written over 50 this past year.

Watch Zarius' video by clicking here


Delshad Shroff

Mahsa Kabolizadeh over her education career has had many leadership opportunities. She was elected as the Student Body President of Handsworth Secondary School. With that leadership role she strived to get involved at the University of British Columbia. During the four years of her University degree, she was the Science Student Representative, at the Science Undergraduate Society. These roles shaped her as an individual who enjoys speaking up when there are issues.

Furthermore, it helped her develop professionalism and enhance communication skills. As a result this lead to her involvement on the Board of Directors of the Zoroastrian Society of British Columbia. She started the Z-classes which ran every other Sunday, and slowly grew from a small group of children, to three full classes of students. Furthermore, she worked on getting the teens involved in volunteering and teaching, thus allowing them to feel a sense of belonging to the community.

Her academic achievements include a bachelor’s degree in science majoring in chemistry, life sciences and earth and oceans sciences. Her second bachelor’s degree is in Education specializing in middle school math and science. Throughout her years of education, she has been the recipient of local awards for my dedication to community service, (Mehraban and Paridokht Zartoshty Education Scholarship), as well as academic scholarships and honors for high achievements in the academic field. This scholarship will allow her to further contribute to her community, as well as maintaining a high academic start for herself.

Pledge:

My vision is to be a leader, an educator and show dedication to my Zarathushti community by educating the young. This will result in the continuation of the cultural teachings. My dedication to the future of our Zoroastrian community has given me the drive to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. This master’s degree will allow me to apply my learnings to the greater practice of my workplace and community. I feel fortunate to belong to a community and highly believe that it is up to members to enhance and keep it growing. With my future education at Royal Roads University, I hope to be able to continue my dedication to my Zartushti Community through enhancement of their education programs. By educating the young, we pass on our teachings and traditions to make sure the culture lives on.

Watch Mahsa's video by clicking here


Jamshid Kavosi

Jamshid Kavosi  was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He attended Sharif University of Technology for his undergraduate studies and in 2013 got his Bachelor's degree in Materials Science and Engineering from that institution. Followed by that, he moved to the United States and started his master studies in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). The focus of his studies in Undergraduate and master was to investigate the behavior of composite materials under large deformation, and he followed up his interest toward PhD. He started his PhD studies in 2016 in Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. In the first year of his PhD studies he has been named as recipient of Kozik-Harvey Fellowship from Mechanical Engineering department of Texas A&M University. His main subject of research at Texas A&M is Carbon Nanofiber composite fabrication for energy storage application in flywheel. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the Aerospace and Automotive industry by improving strength and lowering the products weight significantly.

 He involved in the Zoroastrian community of Iran throughout his years as an undergraduate student. He was an active member of Zoroastrian Youth Association (Fravahar) and Zoroastrian Students Association (Kanoon) during his undergraduate studies where he took part in various social activities and managed to help with organizing and holding a number of events. Being a member of aforementioned communities helped him gain invaluable social and management skills which has been of utmost importance in facing life challenges.

Pledge:

There are numerous potential in Zoroastrian community which they can be flourished if they are guided correctly. I believe that a community can become stronger and more productive if the members of the community collaborate and share their experiences with each other. This mutual friendship and collaboration will definitely allow us to pursue and achieve our goals. I pledge to help the Zoroastrian community through their academic career which in my opinion is the guarantee for their prosperity, whether they are in US or any part of the world. By the way, I would encourage my fellow Zoroastrian youngsters to always follow their passion, don't get discouraged by minor drawbacks and enjoy every single bit of their endeavors. I would be very grateful to share my experiences with anyone who is interested in pursuing higher education.

Watch Jamshid's video by clicking here


Zaal Farhad Panthaki

Zaal Farhad Panthaki was born in Boston, MA, and is currently studying Electrical Engineering as a freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate NY.

 He grew up in Norwood, MA with his family always being very active in their local Zarathushti community, ZAGBA - the Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area. He has been fortunate enough to be able to serve as a Mobed by performing various religious services for the local Zarathushti community. Seven years ago, he was formally ordained upon completion of his Navar ceremony at the Malcolm Baug Agiary in Mumbai. Since then, he has performed Jashans, Navjotes and a wedding for the ZAGBA community alongside his father and other local Mobeds. He feels it very satisfying to give back by performing religious ceremonies for his close-knit community that is like family to him.

 Zaal enjoys skiing and for the past three winter seasons, he has served as a certified volunteer member of the National Ski Patrol at the Blue Hills Ski Area in Milton, MA. He really enjoys being a ski patroller, as it combines his passion for skiing along with volunteering and helping others.

 Zaal is also an Eagle Scout. Through 11 years in scouting, he learned valuable leadership skills, most notably as a Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 49 in Norwood, MA, where he led a group of Boy Scouts at weekly meetings, activities, overnight campouts, and a weeklong Summer Camp.

 Last summer he attended the Zarathushti Summer Camp in Houston. He really enjoyed his experience of interacting and getting to know other Zarathushtis his age from the Houston community.

Pledge:

I pledge to continue serving the Zarathushti community by performing religious services at every opportunity. I look forward to contributing further by being a mentor to the next generation of mobeds. In addition, I hope to play a bigger role in the future of our Zarathushti community in North America. I would like to participate and lead the Youth Groups at Congresses and Zarathushti Sports events. In particular, I hope to organize a summer camp or a ski camp where Zoroastrian youth can come together and explore the outdoors while forming a sense of community at the same time.

Watch Zaal's video by clicking here


Nusheen Goshtasbi

Nusheen Goshtasbi is a first generation Iranian American pursuing her Masters of Medical Science in Physician Associate studies at Yale University. She was born and raised in Southern California to two Iranian immigrant parents who involved her within the Southern California Zoroastrian community from a young age. Nusheen graduated with Latin honors from UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences in 2015. During her time as an undergraduate student, she conducted clinical research under the supervision of a postdoctoral researcher in the Neurology Brain Circuits Laboratory. She conducted EEG trials on patients and helped the team investigate dorsal and ventral stream language processing. She developed her own experimental paradigm in 2014 and the proposal was awarded university funding under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). She is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honors society.

From a young age, she upheld her faith and commitment to the Southern California Zoroastrian community. She attended Sunday classes at the California Zoroastrian Center (CZC) and actively participated in community events including plays, camps, fundraisers and dances. She worked as the typesetter and designer for the English section of the ChehreNama Zoroastrian publication from September 2009 to January 2014. She also served as the co-vice president for the Zoroastrian Student Association at UC Irvine.

She is currently a first year at Yale pursuing her degree in Physician Associate studies. She aspires to be a physician assistant who will work with underserved populations in the United States. She hopes to radiate happiness, or ushta, to her patients and to help them heal and improve their quality of life. She has an interest in addressing how the healthcare system can make care more accessible and affordable to marginalized populations.

Pledge:

The Zoroastrian community, although small, consists of many individuals from all over the world that have been extremely successful and forward thinking. My vision is to see our active and progressive community come together more. I would love to be a mentor for Zoroastrian youth who are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. I am grateful that I had many mentors within the healthcare field help me along my path and I hope I can pay that forward to Zoroastrian youth who are also interested in this field.

Watch Nusheen's video by clicking here


Dilshad Patel

Dilshad Patel was born and brought up in Mumbai, she trained in Movement Therapy at the Harkness Dance Center, New York. She has worked with people from varied backgrounds to include street children, corporations, prisoners, elite athletes as well as patients with chronic illnesses with a view to enhancing and improving their physical and psychological well-being.

She has taken Movement Therapy to the medical realm in India, where she conducted a pioneering research study on Movement Therapy for lung patients at Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai.

Her contribution to the field is highlighted by her ground-breaking innovations to Movement therapy with her pioneering MTS® program (Movement Therapy for Sports), the first ever Movement Therapy program adapted as a training method for performance enhancement by sports professionals.

Her proprietary process has been adopted by elite sports teams like the Rajasthan Royals IPL –Indian Premier League Cricket team for seasons three and five and the Canadian National Cricket Team during their training for the 2011 world cup.

She was appointed Movement Therapist for Sharmila Nicollet-the youngest Indian golfer to qualify for the Ladies European Tour’

She was appointed as Movement Therapist by McCann health for a project which is India's first health related dance fitness video "Pump Start" choreographed by Remo D’souza and performed by Bollywood super star Varun Dhawan.

Dilshad represented India as an International panelist at the 47th ADTA (American Dance Therapy Association) International Global conference in October, 2012. She is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Exercise Science-Human Performance and Fitness.

Pledge:

My life’s mission is to help people facing various issues and crises, to move forward and realize their hidden potential. The sense of togetherness, happiness and joy of belonging to the Zoroastrian community has been such a huge part of my life that I hope to make my community proud and contribute in any way that I can and I would like assist in enriching people’s lives by sharing my knowledge and skills in Movement Therapy and Exercise Science. Special thank you to the board members for supporting Zarathustis shape the future of our community.

Watch Dilshad's video by clicking here


Aurash Soroosh

Aurash Soroosh upon graduating from high school he attended culinary school. From there he started his own catering business and through it found a passion to learn more about the food he was cooking. Initially he went back to school to study horticultural science, and he joined the board of a non-profit corporation called Community Gardens as Appleseeds. During his experience promoting sustainable agriculture he was able to actually go to Iran and award stipends to help start community gardens in Tehran. He also went back to his high school on multiple occasions to guest lecture in the agroecology and cooking classes. The insight he gained through school and by working in the community helped his passion for nutrition blossom.

He decided to attend the Didactic Program in Dietetics at San Francisco State University (SFSU). After graduating he looked for work in a clinical nutrition setting. He obtained positions at both Saint Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) and The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco (VAMCSF). SFMH is located in a very unique part of San Francisco as it borders one of the poorest areas in the city, one of the wealthiest, and one of the most culturally diverse. At the VAMCSF he interact exclusively with veterans. The disparity between patients is staggering, and a social problem he would like to see change in his lifetime. The exposure really drove him to pursue a career in the public sector.

He also volunteered in the community through Project Open Hand (POH), which was started in 1985 to provide nutritious food to people with HIV in San Francisco. POH currently supplies meals and groceries to critically ill adults and the elderly throughout the Bay Area. During his senior year at SFSU he actually completed his own research project at POH. The goal was to determine if providing nutrition education would positively influence a person’s dietary habits. He performed two demonstrations, collected 24-hour diet recalls and food frequency questionnaires. His results showed an apparent lack of nutrition education in the community, thus illuminating a need for organizations like POH which provide the knowledge required for people to develop healthy eating habits. This led to him assisting with research being conducted by the University of California San Francisco at POH. He helped teach the participants different nutrition classes over the course of the study.

All of these experiences helped him refine his goals and realize public health nutrition encompasses all of his interests. It focuses on food systems, cooking, nutrition, health, and how external factors affect all of them. He is so grateful to have been accepted into the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Our motto is: “protecting health, saving lives, millions at a time.” So far he has been exposed to so much, and he truly believe through this program he will be able to go on and make a difference in the world.

Pledge:

I pledge to never stop being involved in the Zoroastrian community. I hope to be a source of inspiration for Zoroastrian youth, and would happily mentor anyone who seeks advice. I am grateful to have been raised in a community which promotes three simple guidelines for living life, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. These three guiding principles have carried me thus far through life. They will continue to inspire me in every step forward I take.

Watch Aurash's video by clicking here