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Vakhshoori Scholarship Recipients for school year 2018-2019


Rustum Chhor

Rustum Chhor  was born and raised in Fremont California and is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying computer science and statistics. From early on, Rustum used to watch the jashans at the San Jose Dar-e-mehr and aimed to be able to lead a congregation in the same way.

 In keeping with his family’s line of dastoors, Rustum completed his navar when he was nine years old and has been participating in local ceremonies ever since. As a practicing ervad, Rustum has been able to work closely with Ervad Kobad Jamshed as his Raspi in performing the Gahambar, Navroz, and Gatha jashans. As a result, he was awarded with the Volunteer of the Year award by his local ZANC (Zarthoshti Anjuman of Northern California) community. In the spring of 2017, Rustum had the opportunity to perform the jashan ceremony opening the Sacramento Dar-e-mehr alongside his grandfather. He was also selected to attend the North American Mohbed Council’s annual conference where he delved deeper into the Zoroastrian religion and the meaning, significance, and origins of its ceremonies and prayers.

In his undergraduate studies, he joined the Iranian Student Organization at Berkeley and is currently its Vice President. Within this role, Rustum helps the Berkeley Iranian community organize events such their Nowruz show which attract hundreds of guests yearly. He has also become an integral member of the Pars Business Network, a business organization which builds professional networks within the Iranian community. Aside from assisting his religious and ethnic community, Rustum has also made efforts to better his hometown. As captain of his robotics team and founder of a drone club in high school, Rustum was able to learn much about engineering and technology.

Currently, Rustum continues to pursue his degrees and projects at UC Berkeley while trying his best to serve the Zoroastrian community.

Pledge:

My pledge is to assist the local Zoroastrian associations in creating tightly knit communities, inspire these communities to have a passionate interest in Zoroastrianism, and mentor youth in academics. From what I have learned with the NAMC, I believe I can make significant progress by simply explaining the meaning behind our ceremonies and prayers as it would make the members of the congregations feel more connected with their heritage. As one of the only mohbeds currently in my local area, I understand that a time will come when I will have to conduct important ceremonies for nearby congregations. This is objectively a large responsibility and when that time comes, I want to guide the community and inspire the new generation of Zoroastrians.

As I have worked at a test preparation and college application center as a tutor, I have gained the experience to be an effective academic mentor and aim to extend my assistance to the youth in the community.

Watch Rustum's video by clicking here


Shayan Bhathena

Shayan Bhathena was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Growing up, the Zoroastrian Association of Houston played an important role in her life. Through observing and learning from Zoroastrian mentors in her community, Shayan found that the most effective leaders are those who strive to understand and learn from, rather than ostracize, those who are different from them.

 She brought this value with her into college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she began volunteering at a student-run free clinic in downtown Austin which primarily serves homeless individuals. Her senior year of college, her experience volunteering at the free clinic inspired an idea for her undergraduate honors thesis. For her thesis project, Shayan interviewed patients at the clinic to investigate the barriers they faced in navigating Austin’s health care system. Through listening to their diverse stories, she came to see these patients as more than “patients,” and as more than simply “homeless.” Instead, she grew to understand that each is a unique individual trying to navigate a complicated health care system, while simultaneously struggling to meet their basic needs of food and shelter.

 After graduating from UT Austin in 2017, Shayan spent one year continuing her research at the free clinic while also assisting in an investigation of medical case management strategies for homeless individuals. After interviewing 48 homeless patients, She presented her research at the UT Austin’s Research Day, and has submitted a manuscript for publication in the Journal of Student-Run Clinics which is pending review. In July 2018, Shayan began medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. As she begins her journey as a medical student, she seek to not only learn about the biomedical components of medicine, but also the psychosocial aspects. At Baylor, Shayan plans to undertake the Care for the Underserved Track, where she hope to uncover the unique challenges and barriers to health care faced by underserved patients in Houston. Shayan believes that, by applying a social services perspective to medicine, she will be more equipped to lead a health care team in serving its patients. She hopes to one day translate what she has learned about the complexities of navigating the health care system into her medical practice by ensuring that the advice she gives her patients is both efficacious and practical.

Pledge:

I have recently moved back to Houston for medical school, and plan to remain an active member of my Zoroastrian community in the years to come. Most recently, I have had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for a Zoroastrian youth camp in Houston, as well as a college admissions advisor for the ZAH Youth Group. In the future, I hope to continue to mentor our Zoroastrian youth, just as I was mentored as a teenager at the ZAH. I hope to help young Zoroastrians understand that it is okay to be unsure about their future, and instead to go through college seeking out new experiences and expanding their understanding of the world around them. In addition, my vision is to help foster the belief that the diversity in our vibrant, unique community only makes us stronger.

Watch Shayan's video by clicking here


Tvisha Shroff

Tvisha Shroff is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge where her research focuses on the relationship between labour law and human development. She was born and brought up in Mumbai, India and trained as a lawyer at Pune University. Upon graduating from law school she served as a Law Clerk at the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi, where she worked on a number of constitutional and human rights law cases. She was also an active member of the Zoroastrian community in Delhi through the activities of the Delhi Parsi Anjuman. Tvisha received her Masters degree from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC where she was awarded Georgetown Law’s Dorothy M. Mayer Award for academic achievement and contribution to the legal profession. Having previously worked on human rights issues at the national level, she worked at the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland managing a program of legal research on the regulation of the employment relationship across nineteen jurisdictions. Tvisha’s research interest lies in the overlap between the law and issues of socio-economic development, particularly how market regulation in areas such as labour, land and trade law can support human development.

Pledge:

In my experience, the single biggest factor that has influenced my academic and professional journey has been the excellent mentorship, guidance and encouragement I have received from many wonderful people both within and beyond the Zoroastrian community. For this, I feel particularly grateful and I intend to pay it back as I progress in my career – to those in my Zoroastrian community at home in Delhi, other Zoroastrian scholars supported by the Vakhshoori Foundation and others that I encounter in my field of work. I am very grateful to be a part of Vakhshoori Foundation’s network of scholars and believe that this would be a great platform to share ideas with and provide mentorship to young Zoroastrians globally. The image of a lawyer is often a clichéd one, but I believe that I can bring my experience working at a court, and at national and international non-governmental organizations, in the areas of policy, research and international development more broadly, to be of help to those looking to pursue related careers.

Watch Tvisha's video by clicking here


Rosheen Birdie

Rosheen Birdie was born in Karachi, Pakistan. Rosheen and her family moved to the United States when Rosheen was about 17 years old. Rosheen graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015 with degrees in Public Health and Molecular & Cellular Biology. As an undergraduate student, Rosheen participated in the 2015 International Emory Global Health Case Competition as Team Captain for UC Berkeley’s team and created the first chapter of Partners In Health Engage at Berkeley. After graduating, Rosheen worked on health systems research at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, D.C. In addition, Rosheen worked as an ORISE Fellow with the Department of Health and Human Services - Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) on a team responsible for collecting, analyzing and translating data gathered from HRSA-funded health centers throughout the nation.

Over the past four years, Rosheen has a volunteered as a Patient Advocate with the Rare Genomics Institute, where she works on eliminating barriers to care for patients with rare diseases and ensure that their care preferences are met. Rosheen was also a direct service volunteer with the public health nonprofit, HIPS from September 2015 – January 2018, where she conducted micro-counseling sessions via an anonymous hotline, distributed reproductive health resources, and assisted with the administration of a syringe services program. Rosheen’s experiences in public health thus far have been rooted in social justice and equitable healthcare access and she hopes to build on this in her future career.

Pledge:

As a Zoroastrian leader with a particular interest in public health and health equity, I would like to mentor the Zoroastrian youth that are interested in a career in public health or the health sciences. I am committed to providing mentorship to Zoroastrian youth based on lessons I have learned from my experiences. I would be interested in designing a formal or informal mentorship program for Zoroastrians to help one another with college, graduate school, or job applications. Through mentorship I hope to further develop my community organizing and building skills, and hold educational and practical workshops to help Zoroastrian youth recognize their strengths and educational or career goals. I am also interested in increasing awareness about Zoroastrianism among non-Zoroastrians, I do my best to do this in my daily life and would like to expound on that further by integrating research and knowledge about Zoroastrianism in my graduate studies and within the graduate school community that I am a part of. I believe that a greater understanding about Zoroastrianism can allow individuals to appreciate and relate to our cultural values and could result in more culturally appropriate care treatments and educational resources for Zoroastrian individuals. I will strive to uphold the ideals of our Zoroastrian community and to grow and give back to our community through mentorship, research, cultural, and educational activities.

Watch Rosheen's video by clicking here


Mitra Khodadadi

Mitra Khodadadi was born in Tehran, Iran. Mitra is currently a freshman student at Schulich School of Music at McGill University and she studies piano performance. Mitra started learning piano when she was four years old. Mitra has always been passionate to become a pianist. She continued playing piano decisively at the age of 13 and started participating in competitions.

Mitra continued her studies in a general high school, in mathematics, and took private piano lessons at the same time. Mitra participated in artistic competitions at high school and acquired second place in play-reading. She acquired a high GPA in high school and then changed her field of study to Arts to be more concentrated on theory lessons. Mitra acquired a high GPA in pre-university. Meanwhile, she decided to apply for McGill’s Music School. She was rewarded with admission to the Music Performance program at McGill University. Mitra participated in charity expositions from 2011 to 2017. She performed in Mahak Hall in the interest of cancerous children. Mitra started teaching piano to children at the age of 16. Also, she was a swimming coach from 2013 till 2016.

Mitra has always been engaged with her Zoroastrian community. As a teenager, she has always attended the Zoroastrian cultural and social events actively. Mitra had several performances in Zoroastrians music festivals in a group or as a soloist and she acquired the first place several times. Furthermore, Mitra has participated in Jam-e-Janbakhtegan Sports Competition since 2008, and she has always acquired the first place in swimming.

Pledge:

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

I have always been an active young individual in our Zoroastrian community in Tehran. By studying piano performance, composition and education, I can offer my community what I have learned in this path. I can guide Zoroastrian teenagers who plan to study music and share my experience with them to get admissions from world-class music schools. I can organize an ensemble with the participation of the Zoroastrian community and instruct them how to sing Gatha’s hymns in a choir. I can perform in our events or certain occasions in favor of the Zoroastrian community.

Watch Mitra' video by clicking here