Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Since the days of the early settlers, immigrants have made significant contributions to the economic and social well-being of the United States. Today, more than ever, immigrants from all nationalities, are an essential part of the social and political tapestry of this Country. As noted by Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation, “Here, in America, we are trying to form a nation that transcends its limits and where the people transcend their differences in order to share a common purpose and common ideals. And here, in America, we must all understand that participating in our civic life, the rich and vibrant life of our nation, is not just a right but also an obligation. And perhaps most important of all, it means being a citizen.”
As it does annually, on July 4, 2012, Carnegie Corporation, whose founder Andrew Carnegie was an immigrant from Scotland, saluted his and the legacy of millions of other immigrants in the United States by celebrating the ideal held dear by Mr. Carnegie: citizenship. On this day, in partnership with the New York Times, Carnegie Corporation honored men and women whose love for the United states led them to pursue a path to citizenship that may have been lengthy and complex, yet ultimately, successful.
This year, journalists, actresses, academicians, scientists, ambassadors, entrepreneurs, and sports figures were among the immigrants who were honored by Carnegie Corporation. Of immense pride is the inclusion of five Iranian Americans on this list, including two of PAAIA’s current board members, Hamid Biglari (Vice Chairman & Head of Emerging Markets, Citigroup) and Vali Nasr (Dean, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies), PAAIA Passing the Torch of Success presenter, Nariman Farvardin (President, Stevens Institute of Technology), two of PAAIA’s original founders, Goli Ameri (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs), and Cyrus Amir-Mokri (Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, the U.S. Treasury Department).
“Iranian Americans from all walks of life contribute daily to this Country,” said Ali Mojdehi, Chairman of PAAIA’s Board of Directors. “The individuals honored by Carnegie Corporation are examples of the hundreds and thousands of immigrants, including Iranian Americans, whose boundless drive, energy, creativity, and generosity enhance the communities in which they live. They are what makes America great.”
Iranian Americans are among the most successful immigrants in the United States. Over 50.9 percent of Iranian Americans have a bachelor’s degree and more than one in four Iranian Americans holds a masters degree, the highest rate among 67 ethnic groups studied by the U.S. Census. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), Iranian Americans are among the top 20 immigrant groups boasting the highest rate of business ownership with over 33,570 active and business owners in the U.S. and a 21.5% business ownership rate generating a total net business income of to $2,559,450,000.
“We come from an ancient and remarkable heritage and background,” said Forough Hosseini, Vice-Chairman of PAAIA’s Board of Directors. “I am very proud that PAAIA has been and continues to be led by such exemplary individuals. I am equally proud of the fact that, as a community, we have used our culture, our heritage, and our hard work and dedication to give back to this Country that has given us the opportunity to be successful. I know I speak for the entire organization when I say that it’s a contribution we are honored to make”.