#PROFspective: Ph.D. in Education Candidate Sanaz Shahi

close up of business woman with brick building in the background

business woman with red flowers in the foreground and a yellow school bus on her right Today, we speak with Sanaz Shahi, a Ph.D. candidate in Education from Iran-Tehran, who lives off campus. Sanaz will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University international student and how she got the most out of her college experience as a Rowan Prof.

Year: Ph.D Candidate. (expected year of graduation: 2022)
Major: Ph.D. in Education

Hometown: Iran-Tehran (the capital of Iran)
Off-Campus Resident: I live in a house just off of campus – making my commute a breeze.
Do you work on campus: Yes, I hold a position at the South Jersey Technology Park.

Why did you choose your major: I have my MBA and 13 years of experience in sales and marketing management, and I loved working in an academic environment. So, I chose a Higher Education major to make this connection between the academic world that I loved so much and the marketing concepts that I’ve grown to be so knowledgeable of.

business woman standing on grass with brick building and yellow school bus in the distance

Why did you choose Rowan: First, I love Rowan University! The Rowan community is exceptionally friendly and the diversity this campus houses is refreshing. It makes an international student, such as myself, feel more welcomed and it was easier to adjust to the new environment.

My typical day as a Rowan student:
My alarm wakes me up at 6:00 a.m. This gives me about two hours before I need to get out the door. I start my morning routine by talking with my parents and sister who live overseas – this give me the energy and motivation to get through work and studying.

I am an international student in the United States, and I moved here about three years ago. I got my master’s degree in Higher Education at Rowan University and now I am a PhD student in education. As a PhD student my weeks are devoted to two parts. The first part relates to days that I have class and the other part refers to workdays. I usually work 20 hours per week at the Technology Commercialization Office at South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University.

business woman sitting with indoor trees in the background
Sanaz enjoying the beauty James Hall offers its education students

I love my career and recently I have been awarded the “Susan Keyes Technology Transfer (TT) Career Transition Fellowship” by AUTM Foundation. AUTM is the premier TT organization based in the U.S. and is a leader in promoting TT related activities globally. I am part of a small group of TT professionals selected on a competitive basis and groomed for pursuing TT as a professional career. As part of the Fellowship, I get several benefits including: 1-year AUTM membership, access to all AUTM library materials (including webinars, TT manual, etc.), fully paid travel for AUTM Annual Conference, as well as access to one AUTM Professional Development Course and one AUTM Regional Meeting during the upcoming fiscal year.

On the days I work, I usually get out of the house around 8:15 a.m., and get to my job around 8:30 a.m.  I work from 8:30 a.m. to around 4:30 p.m. with a one-hour break thrown in at some point. During my lunch break, I talk with my parents and my sister again. It has been about three years since I’ve seen them, so I miss them badly! When 5:00 p.m. finally rolls around, I happily head home while blasting my music. I get home around 5:15 p.m., take a shower, get some rest, and move on to my evening routine.

Every day after work, I call my brother and aunt to discuss and share the amazing things that happened during my day. My brother lives in Philadelphia and will start his orthopedic surgery residency at Cooper soon. My aunt is like a hero to me – I have learned so much from her. I love her, and I am blessed to have her in my life.

I start my evening by checking Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all my personal emails. Now it is time to start studying. Usually I study from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and try to finish any assignments I have. Last, before bed, I plan my outfit for the next day and set the alarm. And that’s it, my typical workday.

business woman standing in front of bronze statue of famous scientists and philosophers
Sanaz standing among some of history’s greatest minds

On days I have classes, however, I usually get out of the house around 8:00 a.m. and head to the library. I start my day by planning my study schedule – I try to follow my plan. I enjoy being an organized person, and I love to make a plan for everything. During the days that I am on campus, I try to set meetings with my academic mentor and adviser. I also have many friends on campus, who I love to visit. Unfortunately, I do not always have enough time to see them – being a Ph.D. student, my free time gets consumed very quickly. I try my best to remain in touch with all my friends through social media and, if I have the opportunity, I love to make plans to see them.

I study until my classes starts, and after my classes I prefer to go home and study. As usual, I start my evening with checking my Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and my personal emails. After having some fun with social media, it’s time to focus and start completing my assignments! I enjoy my life and I try to be positive about everything. I believe that everything happens for a GOOD reason. So be happy and enjoy your life!

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Story organized and photographed by:
Alexander Belli, senior public relations and advertising minor