Managing the PAAIA Mentorship Program in its inaugural year has been an extraordinary ride for me. Sparks have been flying— right, left, and center! Here is one example; stay tuned for more!
Leila Bidad, Asst. Manager, PAAIA Youth Programs, 9/1/10
Avid Boustani, an MIT graduate in Mechanical Engineering, was torn between pursuing a PhD degree and a ‘leadership’ career track. So he applied to the PAAIA Mentorship Program. We matched him with Dr. Firouz Naderi, VC of PAAIA’s Board of Directors and founder of Nex/Gen. He is also Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy at NASA’s Jet Proportion Laboratory.
We leave it to you to discover what happened when the two met. Here is their e-mail exchange, verbatim (w/o their e-mail adds):
From: Avid Boustani
Date: Wed 8/4/2010 6:35 PM
Subject: Thank you!
To: Firouz Naderi
It was a great pleasure to meet you! Thank you very much for taking time from your very busy schedule to listen to my concerns, and provide precious advice about career choices, short-term, as well as long-term goals, and for giving me a personal tour of JPL. I so much enjoyed visiting the JPL labs and getting introduced to Curiosity in person!
I believe that being able to initiate a mentor/mentee relationship with a truly exceptional Iranian-American such as yourself is a chance of a lifetime, and I look forward to cherishing this relationship by seeking your much-appreciated advice throughout my career progress. If possible, I wish to contact you in mid-august to update you about my career alternatives and the results for my research about other (systems) PhD programs in top institutions while seeking your recommendations and guidance.
I truly believe that I will look back to this special moment repeatedly throughout my life recalling how inspirational, fascinating, and memorable our meeting was.
Thank you for your generosity, inspiration, and mentorship!
From: Firouz Naderi
Date: Wed 8/4/2010 10:52 PM
Subject: Re: Thank you!
To: Avid Boustani
Avid jaan –
The pleasure was all mine. It is going to be fun watching your career take off. Feel free to call or e mail as often as you want — I will be there for you.
All the best,
Avid reporting back to PAAIA Mentorship:
From: Avid Boustani
Date: Thu 8/12/2010 7:11 PM
To: PAAIA Mentorship
My meeting went really well with Dr. Naderi. We spent 2 extraordinary hours together at JPL speaking about my future while seeking his much appreciated advice. Dr. Naderi was kind enough to give me a personal tour of JPL and take me to the lab where NASA/JPL are building the next-generation rover called Curiosity, which will be sent to Mars in Spring 2011. Being able to be at the presence of such an extraordinary Iranian-American was a precious opportunity that will hopefully lead to a lifelong mentor/mentee relationship.
Thanks for making it happen, Leila 🙂