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PHD Microbiology, Diversity, Iranian

Having been born and raised in Tehran, Iran, I come from a country that is one of the oldest civilizations on earth, with a rich history beginning over 6000 years ago. Iran has been historically mistrusted, even vilified. Those developing nations that have good relations with Iran are viewed as suspect by many others despite Iran being one of the founding countries of the United Nations and having not invaded another country in over two hundred years. Pick up any national newspaper, and you will find articles that speak of a war of words going back and forth with Iran and the international community's fears.

But this is not where I come from in spirit. I have been truly fortunate to have the educational foundation in microbiology that I have earned in Iran. My struggle to break the mold of the traditional roles for women and their contributions to society have taught me to be resilient, persistent and focused in the pursuit of my dreams. I have always known that I had more to contribute to society than simply being a homemaker. While I do not discount the possibility of having a family at some point, it will be on my terms, and incorporated into my professional career.

America's reputation for quality educational institutions, access to seemingly limitless resources, opportunities and amazing faculty carries across the Atlantic. Coming to America, I have seen for myself that nothing has been exaggerated. More importantly, visiting Berkeley, I have been moved by the celebration of cultural diversity. I am eager to immerse myself in this academic experience, an atmosphere and environment that encourages collaboration. I find myself imagining the contributions students can make, coming from so many different countries, academic backgrounds, experiences and walks of life.

While I have heard of the barriers facing many women, prejudice and discrimination in the US, I feel convinced that America is on the road to repairing this reality for all, especially given the election of an African American for America's highest post after exactly 400 years of the first slave being brought to this land. I take heart in Nelson Mandela's wisdom, that, as a minority in this land, there are many who seek to sabotage your future, but it is more important to make your enemies your friends, to work with them, than to simply be bitter. This is how success will come for all, not just for some. From my life experiences in Iran, though, I have developed a toughness of many years of being a woman in a male-dominated world.

More than this, though, I am here to make the greatest contributions that I am capable of for the medical research community, to be the ameliorator, the vehicle by which those that suffer disease or pain can go on to live healthy, full lives. My wok, my drive, and my ambition are irrespective of the background noise of the pettiness of discrimination, issues that are born of ignorance more than fact. And who better to add to the rich tapestry of diversity in the world of scientific research? Who better to refute the prejudices facing myself and other Iranians in the United States? I welcome the opportunity, if it is my purpose, to change the minds of many, to make my contributions for the betterment of all, irrespective of race, creed or the color of their skin.

My academic prowess and ability to lead research is evident in my record of accomplishment. This is what I bring with me, for my future endeavors, and for, more immediately, the collective student body's academic experience.

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