32 Californian Immigrants from Around the World Will Receive HIAS Scholarships in AUG. 22 ceremony

Posted on Wed, Aug 16, 2006 at 13:50 pm

Awards are a “Mitzvah” from donors

(Los Angeles)– Thirty-two immigrant students from all over the world now living in California will be awarded HIAS scholarships in an Aug. 22nd ceremony at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

HIAS – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – will award the scholarships to recognize the students’ academic achievements, financial need and community involvement. In all, HIAS will award $225,000 – all of it from private donations – at ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York. Several hundred students applied for the coveted awards, which were decided upon by a nationwide Scholarship Committee. To qualify, applicants must be an immigrant who was assisted by HIAS. A list of the winners from California follows.

“A HIAS scholarship is a mitzvah like no other – it truly epitomizes the Jewish value of doing a good deed, and lending a helping hand,” says Donald J. Fleishaker, HIAS board member and chair of the scholarship committee. “Every scholarship donor can feel proud that their mitzvot encourage these exceptional students to continue their pursuit of higher education and personal dreams.”

This year’s recipients come from the far corners of the world; a few have had particularly difficult journeys not only as refugees or children of refugees, but as people with physical challenges.

One such student, Golnaz Balakhani, arrived in America at the age of 17 with her family in 1992, having fled Iran. Diagnosed with a degenerative form of Muscular Dystrophy, Ms. Balakhani has nonetheless managed to earn an associate degree in psychology from a community college in her new hometown of Baltimore and is now working toward a bachelor’s degree at Towson University there.

“The HIAS scholarship will be a big help to me,” she says. “It means a lot to me because I would like to be a successful psychologist and want to give something back to the community and society at large.” While her condition presents her with many hurdles, she is grateful to her family, especially her mother and rothers, who have helped her to overcome the obstacles.

Like Ms. Balakhani, many of the recipients are already well into their advanced education, preparing to be doctors, lawyers, teachers and scientists, among many diverse disciplines.

“It’s truly remarkable what some of these new young Americans have done, especially given the fact that they come from places where they were treated like second-class citizens or worse,” says Gideon Aronoff, president and CEO of HIAS. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids, as well as how good it makes me feel to be part of this organization.”

A second HIAS scholarship program in Israel gives immigrants to that country the opportunity to pursue higher education by granting numerous scholarships to exceptional students. Those awards will be awarded in a ceremony there later this year.

California Recipients of the U.S. Awards (place of origin in parentheses)
Rosette Abayahoudian
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Yalda Azarmehr
Encino, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Khashayar Behdad
Tarzana, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Yakov Berenshteyn
Pleasanton, Calif.
(St.Petersburg)

Vyacheslav Blazer
San Francisco
(Chishinau, Moldova)

Ora Esfahani
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Makhmal Farhadian
Los Angeles
(Isfahan, Iran)

Sara Harooni
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tehran)

Farnaz Haroonian
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Shadi Harouni
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Hamedan, Iran)

Yasamin Kakan
Tarzana, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Roubina Khakshoor
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tehran)

Bita Khakshoor Kohan
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Julie Kuperman
Reseda, Calif.
(Lipetsk, Russia)

Anna Lederman
San Francisco
(Grodno, Belarus)

Saman Manesh
Berkeley, Calif.
(Tehran)

Ardavan Mashhadian
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Ashkan Morim
Santa Monica, Calif.
(Tehran)

Neda Nourmand
Encino, Calilf.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Peyman Pedram
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tehran)

Aslan Pirouzmanesh
Los Angeles
(Shiraz, Iran)

Nina Ram
Encino, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Zhobin Ram
Encino, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Nariman Saadt
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tehran)

Ramona Saketkhou
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Tehran)

Damoon Songhorian
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Sina Tebi
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Elina Tilman
San Francisco
(Tashkent)

Yousha Yaghoobzadeh
Tarzana, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Saman Yashari
Los Angeles
(Tehran)

Pedram Zarabian
Encino, Calif.
(Shiraz, Iran)

Samira Zarbakhsh
Los Angeles
(Shiraz, Iran)