Family and human development graduate shows perseverance in gaining a degree

Ahrash Farhangi

Ahrash Farhangi


Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Ahrash Farhangi has had a non-traditional path to earning his degree. He was born in Oklahoma, but spent most of his childhood living in Iran. At the time, there were two biggest pastimes in Iran — soccer or wrestling. After returning to the U.S. during his freshman year of high school, he decided to pursue both. He earned a scholarship to play soccer in college, but blew out his knee and was unable to play. His dreams of finishing college were put on hold.

Fast forward several years, he was married with kids and in a career he didn’t love. He was traveling more than he’d like and was missing important years of raising his children. He needed a new direction.

As he was walking past a Starbucks, he overheard the manager talking to a new employee all about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan program. He knew that was his ticket to returning to school. While attending a conference for Starbucks, they talked about how to rebuild connections and improve relationships. He was very interested in learning more about attachment styles, so when he was looking for a program at ASU, he took CDE 312: Adolescence and knew that the family and human development program was a perfect fit for him not only to reconnect with his family relationships, but also in helping build connections with the young employees that he worked with.

Farhangi had many professors that made an impact on his learning, but one that stood out to him was Dr. Jennifer Chandler. Her "Foundations Project Management" course was one of the best classes he took during his time at ASU.

“Dr. Chandler’s approach to teaching about project management was very enjoyable,” Farhangi said. “She structured the class as if she was our client. It felt like I was getting a very real-life scenario experience, which was challenging, but also very beneficial.”

Farhangi also appreciated that Chandler went above and beyond to help him succeed.

“She was very responsive and took the time to help anytime I needed it. She was very detailed in her resources that she shared to help me be successful,” he said.

Farhangi is graduating this fall with a major in family and human development and a minor in project management. Being an ASU Online student, he says he's looking forward to visiting Arizona for graduation, and hoping to visit the Grand Canyon and eat at In-N-Out Burger while he’s here.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: Online school is very difficult and challenging. Many times, I thought of online school as being easy and a no-brainer. Wow was I wrong.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: When I was in high school, I was looking for a wrestling school to advance my wrestling career, and at the time ASU was becoming a powerhouse. Having lived in Iran and wrestling being our national pastime, I had seen Coach Jones defeat many of the world’s best wrestlers. I had somewhat of an admiration for the program. When I started to work for Starbucks and they offered an opportunity to attend ASU, I jumped on it. Last year I went to the ASU match against North Carolina and it was amazing.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. (Jennifer) Chandler, I really appreciated her boldness and passion for project management. She challenged me in ways that brought the best in my approach to study and pay attention to details — no matter how small.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Plan out the semester, stay organized, get ahead and always have a backup plan for internet outage.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: I spent many early and late nights sitting at the kitchen table and taking long walks listening to audio books and lectures.   

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I would like to continue working for Starbucks and transition into the construction, maintenance or human resources department. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would love to buy tiny homes for homeless people, and develop a community where they can be safe and provided trade skills to help our fellow citizens get back and involved in our community.

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