Our scholarship recipients must demonstrate strong commitment to the preservation and advancement of Iranian culture and the global Iranian community

Alumni Stories

Meet three of ISF’s scholarship recipients in the videos below. Their personal stories demonstrate the life-changing impact of ISF scholarships, which allowed these promising young adults to continue their studies and pursue distinguished careers in law, engineering and medicine. By investing in exceptional Iranian-American students, ISF is planting the seeds for a brighter future.

“In my freshman year of college I was diagnosed with cancer. After my diagnosis and during my treatment and recovery, members of the ISF community reached out to me via email, telephone, and in person. The warmth and kindness shown to me by ISF helped raise my spirits and encouraged me to continue with my studies despite my illness. My scholarship from ISF also helped me significantly in paying for my studies while undergoing cancer treatment. I feel forever indebted to ISF for supporting me during that rough period in my college career. I plan to give back to ISF so that future generations of Iranian-American students can be exposed to the same love and support that I experienced as an ISF member.”

Armaghan Maggie Saremi
ISF Recipient 2007-2011

With the help of the Iranian Scholarship Fund I was able to graduate with University Honors with a degree in Public Health and Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University in Spring 2011. ISF allowed me to concentrate on my academic studies and interests in public service full-time, allowing me to gain leadership roles and critical experiential learning experiences that led me to reach my goals in college. I am now pursuing a Masters of Science in Development Practice (MDP) at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland on a full scholarship as a George J. Mitchell National Scholar. I will soon be on my way to Rwanda where I will continue my work in public health by helping CARE International with the supply chain management of health services.”

Mohammad Modarres
ISF Recipient 2006-2010

I hope to one day influence
a student’s path as much as
 ISF has influenced mine.
Dr. Roxanne Rajaii
ISF recipient (2009-2010)
Iranian Scholarship Foundation Recipient

My family and I immigrated to the United States in 2001. Although adjusting to a new environment was difficult, our biggest obstacles were our financial problems. My parents were accomplished people in their respective fields in Iran; in the United States, they had nothing. My brother and I were both recipients of the ISF Undergraduate Scholarship throughout our four years of undergraduate studies. The financial support of ISF was an absolute necessity for my brother and me. However, ISF was more than just a paycheck. The financial security of ISF translated to numerous opportunities for me because I never had to work significant hours to support myself and could focus on academics and research. I was able to simultaneously study mathematics and economics at UC Berkeley and conduct research that has been published in a business journal as well as a financial economics journal. I graduated with honors from Berkeley in 2010 and have received the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation to pursue a PhD in economics at Harvard University. My brother is now finishing his fourth year at UC San Diego School of Medicine.  We are forever grateful to ISF and its donors and would not be as successful as we are today without the support of people like you!” 

Mitra Akhtari
ISF Recipient 2006-2010

“I attribute my ability to afford college to the generous contributions of the Iranian Scholarship Foundation. This community has made my undergraduate pursuits in government and neurobiology possible, while enabling me to continue public service work by supporting me financially, personally and professionally. ISF’s aid has enabled me to devote more time to my studies and service, and less to an on-campus job, which has proved invaluable to my emotional and intellectual development at college. 

 My dream is to realize a socially just world with peaceful, reciprocal relations between the peoples of various cultures, races, religious beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds, and other axes of identity. I believe in negotiation and compromise. I hope in my lifetime more people will abandon views of the world through a prism of prejudice and instead embrace the commonalities we share through our human experience. ISF has emboldened my commitment to celebrate and share my Iranian heritage and study the politics, language and culture of the Middle East. 

I have unbounded admiration for ISF’s work, which has provided me—a young scholar—with a platform to pursue my passions in policy, leadership, advocacy, community organizing, cognition and neuroscience, mentorship, human rights, immigration, religion, and more.

I am so grateful that ISF has invested in my academic and extracurricular involvements. I am indebted to ISF, and I feel truly blessed to be in an intellectually engaging, challenging and inspiring environment at college due to ISF’s support. I will continue to advance to new frontiers in my studies and service, fueled by ISF’s faith in me to strive for the very highest I am capable of.” 

Nadia Farjood
ISF Recipient 2006-2010

“After working so hard to get into my dream school, receiving my acceptance letter to Berkeley was unexpectedly met with an enormous amount of stress and sadness. With my sister also in college, my parents were not in a position to pay what my school expected them to, and I would have to work weekdays and weekends while taking classes full-time.

Thus, when I was awarded ISF’s scholarship, I was in disbelief that a group of individuals whom I had never met were going to make such a huge financial contribution to help me afford school, with little requirements  to what I had to accomplish or give back. I appreciated the opportunity and was determined to make the most of it.

The ISF scholarship made it possible for me to engage in activities that I felt passionate about rather than ones I needed to do for monetary reasons. Looking back after four years, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been involved in organizations like Camp Kesem, a student-run camp for kids whose parents have or have had cancer. With an interest in helping my community improve their overall health, I began a community project, StayFit. I am extremely interested in the strong link between an individual’s opportunity to achieve health and the factors intrinsic to the community they can afford to live in. Through this program, I offered free kickboxing and health education classes, which I taught myself, to kids in West Oakland. This was perhaps the most challenging yet worthwhile experience of my undergraduate career, which confirmed my passion for medicine and helping the underserved. I’m excited to continue my education at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to one day provide direct healthcare to others in need.

Looking back, I am still in disbelief over what ISF continues to do for students year after year. However, I now know the power of ISF’s “gift”, the experience of having the support and encouragement of the Iranian-American community, a gift I hope to give to future students.”

Negar Yaghooti
ISF Recipient 2006-2010