Many dream of attending a top university, working their whole lives building up a resume to apply, and be one of the few who get accepted. Elite universities have become like exclusive country clubs, with many believing only the rich and connected can find a way in. The system being rigged. We came across David Dardashti, a UC Berkeley alum from the class of 98’ who shared his not so traditional route to the university and what he has done since. His story may not be what you expect.
Raised in Iran, David lived a modest childhood. Growing up, his parents valued education and sacrificed a lot to give David the best life possible. “There would be weeks where I would only see my Dad once, as he would work so often”, David said. He and his family practice Judaism but with the Iranian Revolution underway, life was uncertain. “Many people were racist and anti-Semitic in school”, David noted. His family decided to move to the United States when David was just 12. They fled and settled down in Chicago, where his parents continued to work long hours and David continued to study hard.
After learning English and being among the top in his high school class, David was accepted to his dream school, UC Berkeley. “It was shocking”, he said. “I never thought I’d get in”. After studying hard at Berkeley, he graduated with the class of 98’ with a degree in economics and moved back to Chicago shortly. He said he considered starting a life on the west coast and staying in California but made the gut decision to go back to his family in Chicago. He resides here today, over 20 years later, married with two children. When we asked David if he believes other immigrants who had fled their country could do the same today, he responded with “I don’t see why not. It takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work but my UC Berkeley degree opened up doors for me that lead me to where I am today”.
David is now looking to start his own business in Chicago’s famed financial district. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching golf, or traveling for photography. “Art and photography are some of my favorite hobbies,” he said. “It gets me out of the house and exploring the world to find a picture-perfect image”.
Follow David on twitter: @DavidDardashti_