gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 46

The loss of his father manifested a need in Ehsan. A need to honor his father and carry forward all he’d been taught. This need led to the establishment of the Rezvan Foundation of Excellence in 2015 by Ehsan and his wife Elizabeth. Through the Foundation, Ahmad’s legacy continues in the form of scholar- ships awarded to students who display a passion for education, and who, with- out help, would be unable to further their schooling. “The scholarship is set to support up to 25,000 dollars a year toward only tuition, up to four years. So potentially that’s 100,000 dollars in four years,” Ehsan said. This year on February 4 th , the Rezvan Foundation held its first annual fundraiser, raising over 120,000 dollars. “I think the Rezvan Foundation is so important because there needs to be many of these little balloons on a tree to help underprivileged kids get a college education, so that they can make the country better,” Rezvan Foundation Board member, Ron Elliot, said. “February 5 th is my dad’s birthday, so we wanted to have the fundraiser the night before his birthday,” Ehsan said, adding, “ It was an amazing success. Over 210 people showed up for our first gala.” Ehsan’s hope for future recipients of the scholarships is that they carry on the story behind it, Ahmad’s struggle to pursue his dream, which began when he was 14. His father, Hossein, suddenly died of a heart attack. As the eldest of four children, Ahmad immedi- ately became, “the man of the family.” “He has three kids to take care of, and a mom to take care of, and he was expected to go to work, full-time,” Ehsan said. In the Rezvan family, education was never a priority. The exception to that belief was Hossein, who always prioritized his son’s education. Ahmad was determined not to let his father down, so he continued his education. After school he’d go to work at his factory job, which lasted late into the evening. Even with all his responsibilities, Ahmad still made time for his schoolwork. 46 “At night, when everyone was asleep, he would take a lantern under the sheet, and study, without anyone knowing,” Ehsan said. Ahmad continued this routine for the next four years, and upon gradu- ating high school with top honors, he made the local paper. It was only then that his family discovered his secret. To fulfill his dream of becoming a physician, college was Ahmad’s next step. That meant taking Iran’s mandatory university Standardized Admissions Examination, the Konkur. “My father was an amazing man…in his career, he had a policy, he never forgot his roots, he never forgot where he came from. “If a patient came in that couldn’t afford (care), he would not charge them.” Unconvinced he’d do well enough on the exam to be accepted at a top university, Ahmad sold his beloved violin and purchased a prep test in order to prepare for the exam. He then spent the following year working during the day, devoting his nights, and days off, to studying in the park, continuing to keep his education a secret from his family. When it came time for dinner, unable to go home, Ahmad asked local grocers to give him the food they were planning to throw out. “That was his dinner. He’d wash it literally in the street, and eat it. That was how he survived,” Ehsan said. When the year was up, Ahmad took the exam, and a few weeks later, on his way home from work, one of the neigh- borhood kids, waving a newspaper in the air, yelled at him. Once again, Ahmad made the paper. “He got accepted to the Tehran GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2017 University, which is equivalent to Harvard…back then it was the most prestigious school there was in the Middle East, the whole Middle East,” Ehsan said smiling. Upon hearing the news, Ahmad’s Uncle Abbas offered him a loan, which provided the money his family needed, freeing Ahmad of the responsibility and allowing him time to devote to his schooling. “So if it wasn’t for his uncle to give him a hand, he wouldn’t be able to go (to the University),” Ehsan said, adding, “That hand that was given to my dad, and that perseverance that my dad had for education, it basically set a course for generations to come.” After graduation, Ahmad pursued his dream of becoming a physician and eventually became one of Iran’s leading pathologists. “In Iran, he was regarded, he would walk around the street and everybody would know who he was, and call him by name,” Elizabeth said, adding, “Everybody had so much respect for him.” In December 1989, Ahmad moved his family to Columbus, Ohio, and for the next 17 years he split his time between his family and his medical practice in Iran until his retirement in 2006. “My father was an amazing man… in his career, he had a policy, he never forgot his roots, he never forgot where he came from,” Ehsan said, adding, “If a patient came in that couldn’t afford (care), he would not charge them.” Ehsan thinks about Ahmad “almost every day” and believes if his father were here today, he would be very pleased with the steps his son’s taken to ensure the continuation of his legacy. “He was a very hard working man, he was very diligent. He sacrificed his entire life for education, of himself, and us. He was the main figure in all of our lives,” Ehsan said. The Rezvan Foundation is actively seeking scholarship candidates. Next year’s fundraiser will be held on February 3 rd , 2018. For more information go to: rezvanfoundation.com/. gmhtoday.com