Candidates for the academic year 2015-2016

Here is the list of candidates for this year's election along with their statements.

MS in Management Sciences and Engineering & Aerospace Engineering
Email: pbanazad AT stanford DOT edu

Dear Fellow Iranian students,

My name is Payam Banazadeh and I am a first year graduate student in Aerospace Engineering and MS&E. Before coming to Stanford I worked at NASA JPL for two years where I was the Lead Flight Systems Engineer on the Lunar Flashlight project. My involvement with the Iranian community has evolved over the last few years and I am hoping I can bring that experience and network into PSA by running for presidency. I am currently a junior mentor at PAAIA (Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans) as well as a NexGen leadership council member. I also served as the VP of the Iranian Student Associations at UT-Austin during my undergraduate.

As a president I have 3 main goals on my agenda that I would like to tackle over the next year. First, I would like to expand our community to not just the Iranians who come to Stanford for graduate studies, but also the Iranian-Americans who have been here for a longer time. This will require a mixture of events, programs, and a new organizational culture that not only responds to the needs of recent immigrated graduate students but any Iranian with any background and any mentality. Second, I would like the students of one of the best universities in the world to have a say in the future of our community. After all as Stanford students we are destined to do great great things after graduation. We will be innovators, leaders, lawyers, artists, doctors, engineers and the future of our community. We should be an example to the Iranian community in America and around the globe on how to lead, how to innovate, how to organize, and how to make a difference in our destiny. I would like PSA to get involved with the community outside of Stanford to build an influential voice for the Iranian community through networking, public advocacy, and mentorship. We have to work together to foster greater understanding between the people of Iran and the United States. As students of this prestigious institution we owe it to ourselves to shape the future and the image of the Iranian community in America. We can start here at Stanford and expand it throughout the country by getting involved with organizations such as PAAIA. Third, I would like to create a cultural talent show entirely played by our members. This was a very successful program that I was involved during my undergrad at UT-Austin. Not only it was a great fundraising event, but also our members truly enjoyed the experience of showing their talent to their fellow peers as well as the outside audience.

Thanks and I hope I can have your vote!

PhD in Mechanical Engineering
Email: hojjatgh AT stanford DOT edu

My name is Hojjat Ghorbani and I am running for the position of President of the Executive Board for PSA. Before I tell you why I feel I have the qualifications for the position, I would like to share a little bit about myself with you. I am a third year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and I consider myself as an honest hardworking individual that would do whatever it takes to complete a job successfully and on time. During the last three years PSA has given me so much and I would like to give more back to it. I am also very enthusiastic about the jobs and tasks that I take charge of and I look forward to helping out PSA in any way that I can. Since, I have been a part of this community for three years, and I am already familiar with the organization´s strong suits and areas that could use improvement. PSA has been an indispensible part of our lives for many years. Live music, picnics, speakers, comedy, and other numerous activities bring us together to build a stronger Iranian community and I am going to help the organization to continue holding these events and make the organization even better. If I´m given the honor to serve PSA as President, I have few ideas that I think will make the organization even more successful. I plan to work with the other executive board members and the rest of the PSA members, to encourage more people to attend meetings and the events that are sponsored by PSA. I would like many of the PSA activities to be planned by PSA members for PSA members. Members can unwind by attending events that will allow them to laugh, sing, and play. When members engage in these activities, they become more connected to the PSA family. That connection to our family is what makes our family special. Attending a performance by an up-and-coming musician, planning a community service event, or participating in the Norooz event can enhance the Iranian cultural experience beyond the classroom walls or athletic fields. I´sm not going to go into stating empty promises, but rather issues I believe need to be addressed. I believe that the most important ideas and concerns are the ones that come from the most important component of PSA´s, the PSA body. That is why one of my goals is to continue to increase the involvement the PSA body has with the executive board in order to benefit the Iranian community as a whole. This is the whole reason why the PSA organization is here, to help make the campus a better place for Iranian students, and to help make everyone´s time here more enjoyable. Fortunately, I have an easy upcoming year that will benefit me time wise for this role of President. I will be able to work harder at the different various tasks that will arise throughout the year and I hope that you will give me an opportunity to prove that.

Board Member
PhD in Classics
Email: mabgrall AT stanford DOT edu

My name is Matthieu and I am a second-year graduate student in the Classics department. I come from Paris and studied History at the Sorbonne. I have started learning Farsi about one year ago. Around that time, I also began participating in the PSA events and enjoying the vibrant enthusiasm of the Persian community in the Bay Area. Since then, Classical music concerts, Nowrooz celebrations, Persian breakfasts, Iranian studies lectures, movie screenings and yacht parties have made my life here so much more interesting and joyful, so that Persian culture feels like a second home.

I want to give back all the warmth that has been given to me so far. And my program as a board member would be simple: to serve the members of the PSA and contribute to organizing the most exciting events of all student associations in Stanford. I would keep the outstanding heritage of my predecessors alive with many small events that bring the members together and make them feel like home away from home.

Through my participation in the board I want to show how much the members of the PSA are open-minded, warm-hearted and proud of their deep heritage. I learn every day, whether it is about Norooz and setting up the Haft Sin table or dancing gher-style on a yacht. With you, I have never felt like a stranger and this is the reason why I want to be one of your ambassadors both in Stanford and in the wider Persian community of the Bay Area.

Different by my origins but similar by my attachment to the values of a lively community and culture, I would like to have the opportunity to further my commitment to the Persian Student Association with a more active role.


Board Member
Undergraduate Student
Email: agahn AT stanford DOT edu

My name is Nazgol Agah and I am a freshman. I enjoy spending time with the Iranian community here at Stanford but I wish there were more undergrads who attended the events. My objective as a board member would be to get other Iranian undergrads involved with the PSA so that we could not only expand our connections but also allow the undergrads, who are mainly half-Iranian or second generation, enhance their understanding of the Iranian culture.

Board Member
Undergraduate Student
Email: rahmari AT stanford DOT edu

The PSA should be a place that is welcoming of all Iranians at Stanford, irrespective of their shared heritage, their beliefs or their year at Stanford. We are here to provide incoming Iranians a community that establishes a second home away from home. It is important that we foster an all-inclusive community, yet unfortunately, the undergraduate community is widely underrepresented in our organization. By electing me into the board, we create a board that represents what we should convey as an organization. I am both an undergraduate as well as a proud ethnic Iranian that was born outside of Iran and lived in different countries over the span of my 20 years. I still hold Iran dearly since I believe that it is a country rich of intellectuals. As representatives of these intellectuals I also find it important that we as a community help polish the image of Iran in America. Unfortunately, Iran is often largely misrepresented due to political tensions. But Iran is so much more than that. Iran is culture, nature, art and history. Once at the forefront of tolerance as the ancient Persian empire, it should not be forgotten that tolerance is a deeply rooted concept in Iranian history. As such I would also like to encourage the PSA to host events that educate the community around us about Iran, demystifying that beautiful country that we all call home. I was head of the charity committee at Earlscliffe in England and was furthermore the head of the debating teamsat my previous three schools. I consequently feel that I can adequately represent the PSA as a board member and can furthermore delegate future events that can very well be charitable as well. As a proud gay Iranian as well, I bring diversity into the board and showcase that Iran is indeed in its core a country of understanding and acceptance.

It remains to say that as a PSA board member, I would be able to gauge the interests of the undergraduate community and organize events that will extend our community to allow graduates and undergraduates, full Iranians and half Iranians, to learn from each other´s experiences and form friendships that will hopefully last beyond Stanford. All while we polish the image our environment has about Iran, a country that we all have a special relationship to.

Board Member
PhD in Electrical Engineering
Email: khosravi AT stanford DOT edu

My name is Khashayar and I am a first year PhD student. I clearly remember first days that I got to Stanford, I had no idea how things go around and how to survive in this environment. Surprisingly, I was impressed having PSA help me work out this situation. I am pretty confident that this has been the same for every one of us, every Iranian stepping into Stanford. This is where I see the importance of PSA and it being a critical key of every Iranian´s journey in Stanford.

I briefly point out what I oversee for the next year as a PSA board member candidate: I want events to be more organized, more diverse and more fun. I hope I can get your vote in the coming election.

Best Regards,

Board Member
PhD in Petroleum Engineering
Email: mehr AT stanford DOT edu

My name is Mehrdad Shirangi, and I´m a fourth year PhD student in Petroleum Engineering.

During the past four years at Stanford, I have enjoyed participating in many of PSA activities. I observed the strengths of previous boards, the boards of Ali Nouri, Ehsan Sadeghipour , Maryam Daneshi, and the current board of Alireza Sharafat. I am interested to join the PSA board, so that I could contribute to our community by promoting the best PSA activities that I observed so far, and also to initiate and help organize more of the events that I feel we should hold. These include, for example, events and activities that promote Persian art (such as Persian calligraphy , drawing/painting workshops) , Persian poetry ( organizing Persian poetry nights), sport and outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, and game and movie nights.

I think PSA board members should encourage and support PSA members to lead the activities that they enjoy. As an example, last year I expressed my interest in organizing hiking events to the PSA board, and with their support, I organized six (announced) hiking events during the academic year. Similarly, we know friends in our community that have a passion for an activity (such as poetry, drawing, calligraphy, sports, camping, to name a few) and those friends are able to organize or contribute to activities about their passion, and they also enjoy doing that. It is then the role of our PSA board to communicate and build friendship with all members and find out about interests. If elected I will also continue and try to improve the PSA efforts in supporting new students.

Thank you,

Board Member
MS in Mechanical Engineering
Email: koosha AT stanford DOT edu

My general plan is to base all the PSA events and activities on YOUR preferences and feedback, so that they would better satisfy the different tastes of the members of the PSA and thus bring even more dynamism to the Persian community at Stanford.

My specific plan is to revitalize our "e-series" as an Iranian version of the Stanford´s popular entrepreneurial weekly seminar, "DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series", where we will invite Silicon Valley´s successful Iranian entrepreneurs to share with us their inspirational story, valuable experience, and most importantly, the keys to their success.

MS in Electrical Engineering
Email: abejnood AT stanford DOT edu

Salam Doostan,

For the greater part of the last decade, the PSA has provided me a community and a home away from home, which has now become simply that: a home. The least I can do to reciprocate is to help next year´s board through my advice and experiences working with the PSA board over the last couple of years.

I´m looking forward to another great year with the PSA!


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