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Student spotlight: Danya Kafai

Jun 12 2018

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Danya Kafai is graduating with a degree in symbolic systems and a global studies minor with a specialization in Iranian Studies.

He says that the symbolic systems major gave him the opportunity to gain the technical foundations to succeed in the workforce, but also the freedom to explore several different fields of study. He chose the Iranian Studies minor because he wanted to learn more about the country and region that his family comes from and lives in today. “It gave me the opportunity to learn the Persian language as well as dive into the rich and complex history of Iran,” he says.

His favorite courses from the minor were Professor Milani's Islam, Iran, and the West, and Professor Emami's Persian language courses. “Islam, Iran, and the West covered an immense amount of material and laid the foundation for my understanding of how Iran came to be the country that it is today,” he says. “Without understanding the history, it is very tough to understand the social, political and religious dynamics of Iran, and Professor Milani does a fantastic job of providing a non-biased, deeply academic, perspective on the history.”

He added that Professor Emami does a great job of teaching her students to speak, read, and write, while also making the classroom experience exciting and fun. “I started without any knowledge of the alphabet and virtually no vocabulary, and after just a year with Professor Emami, I will comfortably be able to read, speak and write in Persian. She also provides the class with knowledge on both historical literature and current societal trends that allow her students to better understand modern day Iran.”

Through the minor, he wrote two research papers, one on the changes in women's rights throughout the Pahlavi dynasty, and the second about terrorism from both an American and Iranian perspectives.

Danya says that the minor has helped him understand the history of Iran and Iranian society from many different perspectives. “I was able to learn about the growth of Islam within the region and what role that played in shaping Iran's religiosity. I learned, in detail, how the Islamic Republic of Iran came to be and what implications that had and will continue to have on the world. At this time in history, especially with the increasing turmoil in the region, it is more important than ever to begin to educate oneself in an unbiased, educated manner, and the Iranian studies minor has done this for me.”

After graduation, Danya will be working in San Francisco for Intel’s Internet of Things Group.

“I am proud of the amazing friendships and connections I've made that have shaped and changed who I am as a person,” he says of his time at Stanford. “My classmates and professors have rigorously pushed me academically and professionally and I cannot be more excited for the future!”

Congratulations Danya and best of luck!

Please join us in congratulating the class of 2018! As the academic year draws to a close, we are highlighting students graduating from across our 14 programs. Click here to view more student spotlights.