Andre Mashayekhi may not have chosen to attend Roosevelt University's College of Pharmacy (COP), but for Roosevelt giving his father an educational opportunity that led to his family's success in America.
"My father never forgot the opportunity that Roosevelt gave him to earn a degree in accounting," said the 28-year-old Mashayekhi, a California native who graduates on Friday, May 10. "That is one of the reasons why this graduation is so important to me."
The pharmacy graduate will get to tell fellow pharmacy graduates on Thursday, May 9, during a hooding ceremony in Schaumburg about the inspiring story of his father, Ata Mashayekhi, who fled Iran for America in 1975 amid the Iranian revolution.
While the elder Mashayekhi had applied to many colleges at the height of anti-Iranian sentiment in America during the 1970s, only Roosevelt accepted him, enabling him to obtain a master's degree in accounting from the University in 1978.
"My father never forgot the opportunity that Roosevelt gave him to earn a degree in accounting … If Roosevelt had not given my father that opportunity I wouldn't be standing here today."Andre MashayekhiPharmD '19
"My father was able to take this opportunity and earn a doctorate degree, become a successful businessman and a father to two future pharmacists," said the younger Mashayekhi, whose sister, Nina, also attends Roosevelt and will graduate from COP in 2020.
"If Roosevelt had not given my father that opportunity," Mashayekhi said, "I wouldn't be standing here today."
A future pharmacist who believes in the importance of listening to, comforting and guiding patients, Mashayekhi received praise for his commitment to patients as well as the field of pharmacy.
"Andre will go above and beyond to research a topic. He is hardworking and eager to learn," said Yana Labinov, assistant professor of clinical sciences at Roosevelt's COP and Mashayekhi's preceptor at the Rush Medical Center.
"He has a strong knowledge base that will continue to grow because of his commitment to learn," she said.
Mashayekhi is a believer in Roosevelt's history of inclusion and providing educational opportunities to those who otherwise might not be able to go to college – including his own father.
"Education allows us to help people and improve society," said Ata Mashayekhi, who graduated from Roosevelt more than four decades ago. "The name Mashayekhi means 'descended from scholars' so education was always important to the family and Andre continues this tradition as I did when I graduated in 1978 from Roosevelt," he said.
"The reason I am here is to help people," said his son, now a graduating pharmacy student who has carried his father's old Roosevelt ID card as a reminder of the importance that opportunity plays in developing individual lives, as well as entire families.
That certainly is the case with Mashayekhi family members, who have gone on to prosper as American citizens. Of note, the new graduate's father will be there to watch his son graduate from the same University and cross the same Auditorium Theatre stage that he once did.
The younger Mashayekhi, who will return to California following graduation, hopes to begin his career as a retail pharmacist following passage of his licensing exam. His long-term plan is to open a women's health clinic with his sister, as they both recognize that low-income women in America need healthcare help, particularly immediately after pregnancy when mortality rates in the United States have been soaring.