The Secret Scholar
Growing up in Iran, Dr. Ahmad Rezvan was a bright, inquisitive boy of only fourteen years when his father suddenly passed away. As the oldest son in a traditional Persian family, Ahmad was thrust into the role of ‘head of household,’ and was expected to immediately quit school and get a full-time job to support his mother and younger siblings.
Ahmad was a dutiful son, and worked full-time to provide food and clothing for the family – but he also secretly continued going to school. Even as a young teen he somehow understood the importance of education, and made great sacrifices to ensure that he would be able to complete high school. He attended classes during the day, and then went to work until late in the evening. While the rest of the family was sleeping, Ahmad would stay up late to complete his homework, often reading his textbooks by lantern-light under the covers in bed so as not to be discovered.
Without the knowledge of family or friends, Ahmad managed to graduate from high school. He was proud of his accomplishment, but he wasn’t done yet: he dreamed of attending a university to study medicine. This would require an additional year studying for the National University Entrance Examination. He sold his beloved violin to pay for exam-prep classes, and continued to study in secret at every opportunity. Ahmad eventually made friends with other young men who also had to work while preparing for the exam, and they began meeting in the park at night to study together. Local shopkeepers took pity on the small group of hard-working young scholars, often giving them whatever leftover food had gone unsold during the day.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Ahmad scored exceptionally high on the exam and was accepted into the highly-selective University of Tehran Medical School—the most prestigious school in the country. When Ahmad’s family and local townspeople learned the news, they were in complete shock. No one had known what he had been up to! His story was published in the newspapers, and he was celebrated as a local hero.
One of Ahmad’s uncles was so impressed by the young man’s incredible perseverance that he offered a loan to help support the family while Ahmad attended university. Years later, Ahmad was able to repay the loan, but he never forgot his uncle’s generous gift—or the kindness of the local shopkeepers—that made it possible for him to continue working toward his dream.
A Lifelong Passion for Education
At the University of Tehran, Dr. Ahmad Rezvan immersed himself in the study of the causes and effects of diseases. Once he completed his medical degree, he opened his own laboratory, eventually becoming one of the country’s most highly respected pathologists. He married and had three children. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Rezvan family moved to Turkey for a few years, and eventually immigrated to the United States, where they settled in Columbus, Ohio.
Education remained an enduring passion for Dr. Ahmad Rezvan throughout the course of his entire life. He was immensely proud that all three of his children completed their educations and went on to careers in successful professions. That, for him, was a lifelong dream fulfilled. An incredibly honorable and generous man, he always looked for ways to help others, just as his uncle once helped him.
In 2012, Ahmad and his wife took a trip back to Iran to visit family. As they boarded the plane, he remarked to his wife with a smile, “Our job is done.” He felt rich beyond measure to have been able to change the trajactory of his family’s lives for generations to come by maintaining his focus on his education in spite of seemingly insurmoutable obstacles. He passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks later. Looking back now, his words seem almost prophetic.
A Legacy of Love and Learning
Ahmad’s three children were devastated by the loss of their beloved father, who had been such a tremendous role model throughout their lives. Dr. Ehsan Rezvan, Ahmad’s middle son, wanted to find a way to honor his father’s legacy. Dr. Rezvan and his wife decided to establish a scholarship foundation in the family’s name, since education had meant everything to his father.
Today, the Rezvan Foundation for Excellence awards college scholarships to exceptionally talented and dedicated students who lack the financial resources needed to continue their education. Dr. Rezvan’s goal is to identify young people who are struggling as his father once did, and give them the helping hand they need to continue their education and succeed in life.
Want to help continue Ahmad’s inspiring story? Donate Now to help young students in need.