Having Found His Way, Young McIntire Alum Helps Others Find Theirs

June 3, 2024
Portrait of Aslan Abrishami-Azar

University of Virginia 2023 alumnus Aslan Abrishami-Azar started the McIntire Latinx Scholarship Fund. (Contributed photo)

University of Virginia alumnus Aslan Abrishami-Azar readily admits his journey through the college admissions process was filled with confusion.

“I went to a good high school, so they assumed students knew how to apply to college. I didn’t,” said Abrishami-Azar, a first-generation student and a 2023 graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce. “I didn’t understand the difference between undergraduate and graduate school, and a lot of the culture around it just didn’t make sense to me.”

Now an analyst with management consulting firm Curtis&Co in Rosslyn, Abrishami-Azar is keen to help future students better their own chances at success – so much so that he has launched the McIntire Latinx Scholarship Fund, pledging to donate $1,000 each year to help get it started.

The pilot scholarship gives preference to students with financial need, including those who may not otherwise qualify for financial aid.

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As a teenager in Fairfax County, the son of immigrant parents didn’t have a clue about the college application process. He hastily applied to George Mason University, Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond and was accepted by all three. He opted for nearby George Mason for financial reasons and to continue his track and field career. Soon he discovered he could transfer and set his sights on Grounds.

Abrishami-Azar throwing his cap up in front of the Rotunda for graduate pictures

Abrishami-Azar credits the strong relationships he formed with his peers at UVA for his successful college years. (Contributed photo)

“I knew UVA was the best school in the state of Virginia, so I just had tunnel vision from there and learned about the transfer process,” Abrishami-Azar said. 

With Iranian and Mexican heritage, Abrishami-Azar joined the Persian Cultural Society, where he met other McIntire students. The students showed him how to successfully maneuver through the UVA experience and brought to his attention the Latinx Student Network, a McIntire affinity club dedicated to empowering Hispanic and Latinx students.

“A lot of these processes, applications and programs can be really difficult to navigate. Privilege comes in many forms: social, economic and academic,” he said. “But I also acknowledge that maybe there was some luck.”

Abrishami-Azar, who went on to become president of the Latinx Student Network at McIntire, attributes his ability to thrive due in part to the relationships he formed with his peers and the Latinx/Hispanic alumni he met through other groups, including UVA’s Bolívar Network. 

Now, just a year removed from his own graduation, he hopes to carry on that support by launching a scholarship.

“A big part of why I wanted to start this so early was to show that I just graduated, but I can still pay it back. This scholarship really can grow. And the more it grows, the more people we can reach out to, and the more people we can help,” he said.

Abrishami-Azar is an analyst with Curtis&Co, a management consulting firm in Rosslyn.

Abrishami-Azar is an analyst with Curtis&Co, a management consulting firm in Rosslyn. (Contributed photo)

He’s hoping others will consider giving.

“Any little bit helps. It will make a difference,” he said. “That’s what I’m excited to see in the following years: how the scholarship continues to evolve and the amount of people who are contributing toward it.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is – if you’re free – you need to free somebody else,” Abrishami-Azar said, referencing a favorite quote from Toni Morrison that guided his collegiate journey and helped inspire the creation of this scholarship.

“If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” he said.

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