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1st student from Afghan refugee group graduates from ASU


Maryam Alizada, graduate of W. P. Carey

Maryam Alizada is graduating with a Master of Science in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

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May 12, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

In fall 2021, 148 women from Asia University for Women (AUW) fled their war-torn country of Afghanistan and boarded a flight to the U.S., seeking safety for themselves and their families. After spending four months in a camp in Wisconsin, 61 women relocated to Arizona to start a new life and complete their studies at Arizona State University. They joined three other women who came separately, for a total of 64 students.

This May, Maryam Alizada will become the first of these 64 women to graduate with a degree from ASU, earning a Master of Science in finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

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

Answer: I learned that ASU is a huge university and is open to everyone from different backgrounds. ASU is a diverse place that accepts anyone who is passionate about learning and growing. I also observed how professors are helpful and passionate for their work. I can honestly say that it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I've grown and learned so much, both as a student and as a person, and built friendships and memories that can be cherished forever.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in 10 years?

A: My career plans after graduation are to start working in national or international companies. I believe that my degree and my work experience will open doors to work in large business and explore many possible opportunities. In the next 10 years, I hope to advance in a financial analyst role and build my professional and personal skills. 

Q: What do you think may help your dreams come true?

A: I think having dedication and high ambitions can help me achieve my dreams. I should be focused and try my best to get close to my dreams and goals. Even if I fail, I have to have faith in myself and move forward. I should never stop dreaming and achieving. Moreover, I think I need a good mentor or role model whom I can follow and get encouraged to never give up.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: The best advice that I would like to give to those who are still in school is that work hard and focus on building your skills and knowledge. ASU is one of the best opportunities for you to study hard and make your future bright. At the same time, enjoy the fun part of ASU – building friendships and enjoying different learning events at ASU.

Q: Which teacher/professor/ASU staff member inspired you the most during your time at ASU?

A: At ASU, I cannot give enough thanks to President Michael Crow, who welcomed me and my other Afghan fellow students to continue our education at ASU. It was a huge opportunity for all of us. My degree is a big achievement. I realized that I became more knowledgeable and of course a better person. 

Thanks to other two amazing people, Pam DeLargy and Troy L. Campbell, who helped me adjust at ASU and helped me in this process to graduate with pride. I should also thank my supervisors Tye Thede and Liza del Mundo for always helping me at my workplace. I was lucky enough to work with Tye as he is one of the softest-hearted and nicest people I have ever met in my life.

A bundle of thanks to my supporters Erin Yunt, Rachelle Maxwell, Jennifer Gladwell and Bailey Litherland, who always helped me whenever I need them. I couldn’t be a better person without the help of these wonderful people. I also want to thank my advisor Michael Connelly and all W. P. Carey School staff members who did not only help me, but hundreds of students, to be successful in their academic fields. 

At last but not least, my gratitude to all my professors for what each of them have done for me, which I will never forget. I truly appreciate you all helping me learn and expand my knowledge. I am blessed to have all these amazing people around me. Thank you so much for everything that you all did for me.

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