For Sobouh Rahimi, education is a gift. He was born in Iran to a religious minority family, which meant education past high school was a crime for them. "I think of education as the prize of anyone's willingness to learn," Ramini said. "It's what, on an individual level, opens opportunities and possibilities for the future."
Because his mother wasn't able to get her degree in their home country, that became her goal when the family emigrated to the United States 12 years ago. "For her, it was a challenge, just because they told her she couldn't," he said. "She wanted to prove them wrong." Her determination became his inspiration during his time at University of Houston.
At the start of his freshman year, Rahimi's mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She continued with her classes in spite of her health battle. Although her academic journey was long and arduous, she finally got her degree as part of the class of 2020, a month before she passed away.
This happened the summer before Rahimi's junior year. He contemplated taking a year off or transferring. "In addition to being my mother's caregiver in her last few months, I was also my grandmother's caregiver," Rahimi shared. "There were so many different things I was responsible for. I didn't think I could continue school."
Then, he learned that he had been awarded the Ted Bauer Undergraduate Business Scholars Award scholarship two weeks before classes started. "I was so sure I wouldn't be enrolling that I hadn't even picked my classes," Rahimi emphasized his incredulity at the time.
He debated whether or not to return to school. He explained what ultimately convinced him, "When I learned about the scholarship, I thought about my mother and asked myself: Why would I not continue? If my mom was able to earn her degrees with all of her challenges, the very least I could do was earn mine."
Rahimi graduated on time with a major in Marketing and a minor in Energy Sustainability and is now working as a Marketing Manager at SAP, a business software company.
Rahimi was a tour guide and campus ambassador his freshman year at U of H and used to give his "Why UH?" story at the end of every tour. He remembers he would say it was proximity to home or affordability. It wasn't until he graduated a couple months ago that he realized his real "Why UH?" story.
"Studying at University of Houston granted me freedom,"
he explained. "I work at one of the largest software companies with barely any student loans and I'm actually able to provide value in these meetings with big executives, all thanks to the hands-on and informal learning that I got at University of Houston." He attributed his success to the faculty and staff that supported him, including Steven Koch and Whitney Johnson.
If he could give advice to any current students who are juggling school and other responsibilities, he offered: "Don't compare yourself to fellow students with different circumstances. Understand the difference in circumstances and focus on your personal strengths and your personal brand. Hone in on your personal values."
He listed his values as "community, inclusivity, creativity, tenacity and sustainability." He said identifying these were key to his success. "When I was able to find my values, and when I was able to continue to nurture curiosity, everything fell into place for me."
If you want to read more of Rahimi's story or connect with him, check out his website: https://sobouhr.com.