Stories from Spring 2019 #UTDgrad Week


From left: Dr. Mehrdad Nourani, Mina Nourani BS’03, Alireza Nourani BA’19 and Sara Nourani BS’13.
Earning a degree from The University of Texas at Dallas has become a family tradition for the Nouranis.
Alireza Nourani became the seventh in his immediate family to graduate from UT Dallas when he received his bachelor’s degree in political science Wednesday from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
His mother, Mina Nourani BS’03, was the first. She earned her degree in computer science. His father, Dr. Mehrdad Nourani, did not study at UT Dallas but has taught at the University since 1999. He serves as associate provost and professor of electrical engineering.
“As a UTD professor, I witnessed the high-quality education and research that UTD offered,” he said. “And as parents, we wanted our kids to have access to diverse and enriched learning opportunities, financial assistance and the advantage of living near home.”
Alireza’s sister Zahra Nourani BS’09 earned her degree in psychology and cognitive science. Her husband, Neil Duffy BS’08, studied arts and technology.
Another sister, Sara Nourani BS’13, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and now is an optometrist. Her husband, Sammy Houari BS’13, earned his degree in biological sciences as well.
Alireza’s brother Mohammad Nourani BS’16 studied mechanical engineering.
Alireza Nourani, last year’s recipient of the Student Diversity Award, is the youngest sibling. However, his degree won’t be the family’s last: Mohammad is working on his Master of Business Administration, which he expects to finish this year — for a total of eight UT Dallas degrees.
–Kim Horner

From left: Drs. Paula and Virginia Land
Virginia Land BS’14 received the honor of a doctoral hooding not only from her professor, Dr. Linda Thibodeau, but also from her mother, Dr. Paula Land.
Her mother also earned her master’s degree in audiology from UT Dallas in 1984 and has played an integral role in her daughter’s education from the very beginning.
“I was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Virginia, who earned a doctoral degree in audiology. “She’s the one who introduced me to the field of audiology.”
The younger Dr. Land said her mother has been a big part of her academic life. She added that the hooding ceremony was a perfect way to honor her mom’s influence.
–Katherine Morales

Ridwanallah Giwa (center left) and family.
Ridwanallah Giwa’s family visited from Nigeria to celebrate his graduation with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from UT Dallas.
Ridwanallah’s mother, Hawau Giwa, made special clothing in honor of the occasion. His father, Nasir Giwa, an engineer in Nigeria, said he was proud of his son.
“I’m a happy dad,” Giwa said.
At UT Dallas, Ridwanallah served as a math tutor and launched a tutoring program for the National Society of Black Engineers chapter. He also served as a data management intern and volunteered as a programming instructor at a summer camp in Nigeria.
This spring, Giwa was part of a team that won third place in the UTDesign Expo for its work on a fleet of autonomous vehicles.
–Kim Horner

Anna Morris
It’s been quite a journey for Anna Morris. After earning her bachelor’s degree in child learning and development from UTD in 2008, she went to work in the health care field and had a child.
This spring, on the verge of having another child, Morris earned another degree – a master’s degree in healthcare leadership and management.
She said it has been a long road, but a “wonderful” one.
–Phil Roth

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