Featured Philosophy Students


Melissa Gholamnejad, Ph.D. in Philosophy


Photo of Melissa GholamnejadI was born in 1979, in Tehran, Iran. As history would dictate, this turned out to be a fairly tumultuous year for Iranian citizens, as the Iranian Revolution took hold of the country, and ousted the ruling monarchy. Once the new government was in place, after a few years it became apparent that Iran was not the country it once was. Oppressive restrictions on women were put in place, and as a child born into a Baha'i family, we had even less rights. Added to this was a constant and looming war with neighboring Iraq, which cost the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, and even children who were recruited to fight in the army. At the age of 8, my parents decided that in order for their children to have a future, they needed to leave their home and immigrate to another country that could provide us with a better life, and more importantly, an education.

With our diminished rights as citizens, complicated further by the ongoing conflict with Iraq, we were forced to escape Iran under the cover of night, traveling on camelback through Iran's mountainous border that it shared with Pakistan. We would find shelter during the day to avoid detection, and travel at night. Amazingly, we made it into Pakistan, and I realized we were never going back home. We requested political asylum from the United States embassy. Life in the United States offered a war-free life and an opportunity to pursue higher education.

Fast forwarding a few years, I find it truly remarkable how much things have changed for both myself and my family and just how lucky we have been. My parents settled in southern California, and both found jobs in the airline industry. We kids held up our end of the bargain too, and made sure that their sacrifice for a better life meant something, and that their dreams of an education for their children became reality. As such, I'm proud to say that I am the first child in our family to attend a University, earn both a Bachelors and Masters degree, and now I'm striving towards my doctoral degree in Philosophy.

Early on in my collegiate career I became instantly attracted to my courses in the philosophical studies. Although, I was accepted to the University of California, Irvine, as a biological science major, I discovered a passion for philosophy. Philosophy triggered a startling epiphany: that although I felt science built a firm foundation for understanding the physical world, the examination of what I felt were the physical world’s most fundamental limitations lay within philosophy. I think the Greek word philosophia, which literally means "the love of wisdom" most accurately describes how I feel about studying philosophy. It really is a passion for the learning and understanding of the general and fundamental problems connected with existence, knowledge, values, and reason. Throughout history, philosophers have been at the forefront of shaping their societies, and often heralded new ages - literally defining centuries of new thought, reasoning, and even paving the way for the scientific revolution. I owe my passions to the great philosophers of the past, as their work now fuels my endeavors.

The road to my education was a long one, fraught with adversity, and there were plenty of opportunities for me to fall off, or get lost along the way. Luckily I've managed to stay the course with the guidance from my family, colleagues, and the esteemed faculty members as CGU. I can't think of any other place I'd rather be than right here at Claremont Graduate University, pursuing my ultimate dream of a PhD in Philosophy and the chance to eventually pass this knowledge to future generations of students.


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