Becoming the best she can in America …
Mahnaz Mahgerefteh of Baltimore, MD, who emigrated in 2000 from Tehran, Iran, is motivated by her parents to achieve great heights in their new homeland. A frequent volunteer in the Baltimore Jewish Community, Mahnaz is attending the University of Maryland School of Nursing. She won the Bernard Bowman Scholarship Award in 2009.
In her own words: “My parents always dreamed of coming to America, the land of opportunity, where their children could achieve the most in a free society. However, it was understandably very difficult to actualize this dream. It meant leaving behind everything they had known and starting from zero in a foreign country. That is why they did not take any serious steps towards coming to the United States. But in the year 1999, my father was summoned to court and told he must pay a tremendous amount of tax on his store. Why? No real reason, just religious discrimination. They even threatened to imprison him if he did not provide the money. This was the blow that convinced my parents the time has come to leave behind this corrupted society. They did not want their precious children to one day be discriminated against as well. In a matter of months, we packed whatever we could and fled from Iran.
“In the winter of 2000, we arrived in Maryland. It was extremely hard for the entire family, especially my parents. I do not think I will ever be able to fathom the incredible sacrifice they made for us children, so that we can have a bright future. My father, the successful businessman, was forced to work as a housekeeper. My mother, a very educated woman with a Masters in Nutrition, was forced to baby-sit in order to help support the family. The language barrier made it very difficult for my parents to get better jobs. Yet, the knowledge that their three children would be able to fulfill their potential and become the best they can in America kept them going.
“My dream is to become a nurse practitioner in a pediatric office. The innocence and vulnerability of children, coupled with the fact that they have an entire life ahead of them to fulfill their potential, are the reasons that made me choose this field. My parents sacrificed so much of themselves in order give us, children, a chance to live. I yearn to do the same for other children. I have a lot of experience working with kids in camps, as well as school settings, and I have also shadowed numerous medical professionals. I simply love working with children and, I think, they in return like working with me. I want to have a share in improving the quality of their lives.”