From suffering to saving lives …
Safa Gitisetan of Los Angeles, CA and originally of Shiraz, Iran, is studying cognitive science at the University of California, Los Angeles. A dean’s list student and intern at UCLA’s Santa Monica Hospital, he hopes one day to become a doctor. He was a recipient of the 2009 Andre and Katherine Merage Foundation Scholarship Award.
In his own words: “I come from the Jewish community of Iran, known for being subject to many persecutions and pogroms throughout its history. In spite of all the hatred and scornful propaganda, I never gave up working hard to educate myself. I was able to become the youngest violin soloist of the national music conservatory and a top-ranking student. Under the ever-increasing pressure of the regime, four years ago I had to leave my homeland, family, and friends, abandon my hobbies and my music, and flee to the United States where I could freely pursue my goals. During high school I started an interest in medicine along with my old passion of psychology and understanding the human mind and behavior. I therefore intend to pursue a major in Cognitive Science for my undergraduate studies at the University of California Los Angeles. In addition to my general aptitude and academic fascination with the subject, I have sought to educate myself with the hope of finally becoming a doctor and doing important, life-saving work.
“Being the target of so much violence and hostility, I know I have to arm myself for the battle, not with weapons that kill, but with excellence in a profession, with the intent of making a difference in the lives of humans. Cognitive science for me is more than just a degree that will give me fulfillment; this degree will help me to achieve my ambitions and goals in medicine. I’m sure that the generosity of HIAS will be of great assistance to me by removing financial stumbling blocks on my way. I know that I have the ability to follow through with all the hard work it will take to achieve my dreams and my goals. Like the others before me who turned their state of persecution and misfortune into a force that propelled them to overcome and make their mark in the world against all odds, I too intend to make of my early suffering and state of persecution something noble and worthy in the remaining years of my life. My personal history gives me confidence that, having endured the challenges of fleeing and setting up a new life in America, I will thrive in this new life.”