When Arjang Geramifard began his higher education journey, he wasn't sure what pathway he would pursue. Now he is in his first semester of dental school, proving that hard work and great mentors can make a difference.
Geramifard was working as a car salesman at Honda of Clear Lake when the advice from a coworker helped change the trajectory of his career forever. Dr. Steve Bramlet, a retired pharmacist, was the internet sales director who recognized the potential in Geramifard.
"I was reading manuals for vehicles, and we started discussing engineering and chemistry," Geramifard said. "He encouraged me to pursue more education, but I shook it off for a while. I didn't even know where to get started."
One day Geramifard came into work, and Bramlet asked, "Have you found your school yet? If you stay here another year, I'm going to be so disappointed."
"I couldn't do that to him, so I decided to seriously look into it," said Geramifard. "I talked to my wife, and she was so excited for my decision."
After getting recommendations from family and friends and doing his own research, Geramifard started his higher education journey with San Jacinto College in 2018.
"I researched local colleges online," Geramifard said. "I looked at the qualifications of the faculty and the college's rankings among other institutions."
To qualify for admission, Geramifard had to complete an English as a Second Language proficiency exam and a Texas Success Initiative Assessment, which measures college readiness in reading, writing, and math. He also took the Math Challenge Exam, which allowed him to waive his math prerequisites.
"In my second semester I began taking physics I with Madhu Gyawali, and I found it challenging and exciting," said Geramifard. "I was still working at the car dealership and sharing my grades and discussing my courses with Dr. Bramlet."
It was through advice from Bramlet once again that Geramifard decided to quit his job and pursue his degree full time, taking 23 hours in spring 2019.
"It was challenging and exhausting," said Geramifard. "In order to succeed, I had to take extra measures to stay organized."
In his final semester at San Jac, Geramifard entered the Undergraduate Research Symposium, competing among 33 other students. He took first place with his research entitled "Long-term Nitrogen Dioxide Trends over Large Cities in Texas: Comparing Satellite and Ground Observations."
"Arjang is a great example of a student who seeks out opportunity and makes the most of it," said Dr. Christopher Wild, South Campus dean of health and natural sciences. "He illustrates what can be accomplished outside the classroom in the form of scientific research at San Jacinto College and the benefits that can have on a student's future."
Through opportunities provided by Wild, Geramifard presented his research at the Valve World Americas 2019 annual conference and had his research published in the Fugitive Emissions Journal.
After completing 65 hours at San Jac, Geramifard transferred to the University of Houston-Clear Lake to major in biologic physiology and minor in chemistry.
"I loved my experience at UHCL," said Geramifard. "Larry Rohde had a huge impact on me and helped me prepare for my dental school exams."
Rohde, department chair of environmental sciences at UHCL, met with Geramifard and coached him on how to practice for the timed Dental Admission Test.
"I found Arjang to be one of those students who has an intense desire to learn," said Rohde. "With the world pulling at us in many directions, being able to build upon that desire is hard, and Arjang did it well."
Today, Geramifard is in his first semester of dental school at the prestigious Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. With his GPA and Dental Admission Test scores, he qualified for a scholarship through the Delta Dental Fund awarded to fewer than 10 first-year students annually.
"Through hard work, anyone can be successful, but having a solid support system is invaluable," said Geramifard. "I have so many people to thank for helping me get to where I am today."