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Finding a Home in a Foreign Land

Like most students, Mouluddin "Dean" Rahimi '10 was nervous about going away to college. Naturally, he was apprehensive about relating to new people and fitting in, especially since he would be living on an American college campus. So he turned to Dale Carnegie and his 1936 bestseller, How to Make Friends and Influence People. He read the book three times before leaving his homeland for the United States. But the one thing Carnegie didn't need to teach him was how to deal with the unexpected. That was a life lesson he had learned long ago as a child in Afghanistan.

His countrymen had been fighting a war, either with outside forces or each other, throughout his lifetime. When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, Rahimi's teachers were arrested. He and his classmates were threatened, and told not to return to school. His family was forced to flee their home for the relative safety of Pakistan. When they returned, Rahimi found that school was banned, and his dream of getting an education could not be reached in the country he called home.

But he wasn't going to let anyone else determine his destiny and persuaded his father to send him back to Pakistan to continue his education. He returned to Afghanistan in 2001, after the U.S. military overthrew the Taliban, graduating from high school in 2004. He was working as an English teacher when he was recruited by L-3 Communications, a security contractor working with the U.S. Army.

Soldiers he befriended at the U.S. Army base where he worked told him about America. He vividly recalls his friend, Capt. Jack Jarvis, drawing a map of the United States on the ground with his finger one day, indicating the location of his hometown of Atlanta. Rahimi was convinced that the United States was where his future lay, but he had no idea where he would end up or how he would pay for his education.

He soon realized that scholarships were his only answer. "I simply had to go to a school that had scholarships for international students," he said in a 2010 End Notes article he penned for Susquehanna Currents. "Fortunately, Susquehanna was one of those schools."

Rahimi wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at the university in 2006, but he was pleasantly surprised. "It was green, peaceful and seemed like home at first sight," Rahimi said in 2010.

"The extent people at Susquehanna University go to help you is awe-inspiring," he now says. Rahimi experienced this firsthand when tragedy struck his family. His work with the U.S. Army had put him in danger of almost certain retribution by the insurgency in Afghanistan, making it impossible for him to return home when his father died, or later when his mother fell ill. "On both occasions, I simply could not have survived without the emotional support of the Susquehanna community," Rahimi says.

This support saw him through his darkest days and gave him the courage to turn his dreams into reality. His education in Susquehanna's Sigmund Weis School of Business led him to London for a semester of study; to serving as the manager of the business school's then newly minted trading room; and to a host of other life-changing experiences.

"Every moment that I lived at Susquehanna was an adventure," Rahimi says. "It's a place that nourishes minds and expands horizons, a place to really think, to listen and to share moments.

"Susquehanna provides a culture where you can grow exponentially in ways you never thought possible."

And grow he did. Today, Rahimi is a financial analyst for the Conway Wealth Group at Summit Financial Resources in New Jersey, where he works with the CEO on portfolio construction and asset allocation strategies for CEOs, entrepreneurs, Wall Street professionals and pro athletes. He's been studying for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is currently a level three CFA candidate. In September 2015, he will marry "the love of his life," an Afghan woman he met in the states. 

By Victoria Kidd



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