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Meet Our 2019 Cohort of Fellows: Fares Ziari

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

I am Fares Ziari, a recent petroleum engineer graduate with over five years of experience as a civil engineer in flood control management, cost estimation for commercial projects, and field engineering. I obtained a bachelor of science in civil engineering at the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) (an underground university for religious minorities). I entered the BIHE master's program twice; however, the first time the Iranian government arrested our faculties during the second semester, and the program was suspended for a while. The second time, the government arrested my father because of his religious beliefs, which forced me to resign and take over the financial responsibilities of my family. These experiences motivated me to find another solution for my quest of higher education, and finally I emigrated from Iran.

I moved to United States in 2014 and obtained a master's of engineering from the University of Houston while working full time as a civil engineer. Once I immigrated to the United States, I accepted and disclosed my sexual orientation, an aspect of my life that I could never explore in Iran. I was always part of a minority group in different stages of my life (as a Baha'i in Iran; as an immigrant and gay man in the United States), but I learned to be observant, receptive, and resilient.

These experiences—working and studying in different fields and different languages, dealing with people with different ideologies and principles—taught me to observe differences and think deeply about them and to adapt quickly to the mainstream while keeping my identity. I learned how to communicate and participate with people with varied backgrounds, share values with others and gain from their values and experiences, and continue to grow personally and professionally. As a person who has been deprived of normal human rights, you can imagine how much I appreciate an inclusive environment where I can embrace differences and be proud of who I am and what I believe.

What made you consider business school?

in order to have more doors open in front of me and being able to work in multiple industries.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

Meeting new people and developing my social skills.

Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

Ellen DeGeneres.

What's one thing everyone should know about you?

I would never give up.