Sahrash Akram

Sahrash Akram

In 1969 my dad, a 17 year old boy who had never stepped foot outside of his village, left his country forever in hopes of finding better opportunities. He worked on ships and traveled for 22 years before he landed in the United States of America. What drew him to here is was what draws everyone: the American Dream. The Land of Opportunities. The country of endless possibilities.

He decided put his roots down in the U.S. after having traveled to dozens of countries across the world because he knew his future generations will have access to a life here that they will not have anywhere else. And he was right. Having access to good education alone was transformative for our family.

Because of his vast travel and life experience, my dad understood how important education is. How it is the foundation of any successful adult life, especially for children of immigrants (who do not necessarily have the community support other generational Americans do). The only way for us first generation Americans to catch up to everyone else in this country was to have that strong foundation.

One lecture he repeated throughout our childhood was “imagine the world is a desert and the only oasis is located in America. It has an abundant amount of water, people from all over the world come to drink from it. Don’t let the fact that you live by the oasis and its availability of it to you, underestimate the power it can have on your life. Don’t remain thirsty while others travel far and wide to drink from it. Take advantage of it. Good education is like that oasis. You have it in this country at your disposal, make sure you use it. Educate yourself. It will not only open your mind but many doors for you in life.” I never forgot that. It is unfortunate that he passed away before he saw me graduate high school. Or any of my siblings from college. Or when I became the first woman in the history of our family to ever get an MBA. My dad wasn’t there to witness any of it. But his words always echo in my mind.

From the very beginning of my professional career I somehow, consciously or subconsciously, always worked in higher education. My titles over the years changed. They started off from work-study and moved up to assistant then to Student Success Coach and finally to Transfer counselor. In between I dabbled in other industries but those positions never felt like they were a part of who I was. I never truly felt a strong pull to their mission as much as I did to the mission and core values of educational institutions.

When I was offered the position at the Foundation @SVHEC, life came full circle to me. In addition to me strongly believing in the work of the Foundation, I related to it deeply as I understand the impact education can have on one’s life. I am aware of how difficult financial obstacles can be in the way of any major life change. Especially education. Helping eliminate those obstacles one scholarship at a time is what feeds my passion for my job. I am grateful to be a part of a team and community that values growth. What we do, wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for our donors, our homegrown heroes.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have made many dreams a reality!

Sahrash Akram

Associate Director of Philanthropy