Bahai News -- The Idaho Statesman - Degree means freedom for graduate
Degree means freedom for graduate
Had Borah grad stayed in Iran, college was out
|Two years ago,
Samir Keshavarz Rahbar and his family immigrated to the United States from Iran — so that when Keshavarz Rahbar graduated from high school, as
he did from Borah on Friday night, he could go to college. PIctured with him is his family — brother, Sahand, 8; mother, Soheila Eghbali, and
father, Ardeshir Keshavarz Rahbar.|
The Idaho Statesman
Samir Keshavarz Rahbar graduated from Borah High School on Friday and plans to attend Oregon State University in the fall as an electronics
On the surface, Keshavarz Rahbar´s post-high school plans seem no different from those of millions of other high school graduates.
Except for one thing: Had Keshavarz Rahbar stayed in his native country of Iran and not come to the United States two years ago, there would
have been no college for him.
The reason: Keshavarz Rahbar is a practitioner of the Baha´i faith, which teaches that all of humanity is a single race and that the goal is
to work toward societal unification. Baha´is are denied full access to education and even employment in the Muslim-controlled Iran.
“I would have no future in Iran,” said Keshavarz Rahbar, 18. “I would have a high school diploma and then go look for a low-level job.”
At Friday´s graduation, Christopher McCurdy reminded students that leaving high school isn´t an end. It is, he said quoting Winston
Churchill, only the “end of the beginning.”
Students must now expand their vision, he said. “Now we have to think about the world outside of our senior hall,” he said.
Samir´s parents, Soheila Eghbali and Ardeshir Keshavarz Rahbar, were determined their children would have a shot at higher education. And so
for two decades, they sought a passport that would allow them to leave Iran legally.
Two years ago, they got permission.
Keshavarz Rahbar´s parents knew well what it was like to have their future foreclosed on them because of their faith.
Both were attending college in Iran when the Shah was overthrown and replaced by the Ruhollah Khomeini, a conservative Muslim leader who in
1979 fused the Muslim religion and politics in Iran.
Because Keshavarz Rahbar´s parents were Baha´i, they were thrown out of college, where she was a mechanical engineer major and he was
studying film direction.
The Iranian government gave them a chance to stay in college if they would publicly renounce their faith. They refused.
But Eghbali held onto the written offer from the Iranian government for 20 years and it figured prominently in them being allowed to come to
the United States as political refugees.
Now, Keshavarz Rahbar and his family say they love and miss their country. But they are also happy for their son.
“Education is very important,” said Keshavarz Rahbar´s father.
And his mother, wiping away tears as she thinks about her son getting an opportunity that was denied her for two decades, is happy for both
her son and herself.
For while Keshavarz Rahbar gets ready to attend OSU — with $32,000 in scholarships — she is also attending college for the first time
since she was booted out by the Iranian government. She is a mechanical engineering major at Boise State University.
“I am getting back to my degree,” she said.
©Copyright 2003, The Idaho Statesman (ID, USA)
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