In the front row of Carlson School of Management graduates, Murid Amini scanned the audience for his family before heading onstage to deliver his commencement speech. The first-generation college student earned his family's third University of Minnesota master's degree Monday, adding to an impressive collection.
The 28-year-old comes from a family with strong ties to the U, totaling 43 years of enrollment, nine undergraduate degrees ranging from political science to astrophysics, and one Ph.D. between Amini and his seven brothers.
On Monday, the focus was on Amini. In his speech, Amini shared his story of how his family left Afghanistan as refugees when he was 4 and moved into the Riverside Plaza apartment complex.
Amini spent much of his childhood at the U. He often visited his older brothers on campus and watched the construction of the Carlson School near his home.
"I spent quite some time walking through the halls on this campus, biking through crowds of students, and attending campus community events," he said in his speech. "Never considering I would eventually attend an MBA program in this state's most prestigious business school."
Amini said all the support he received made his dreams possible — support not just from scholarships and grants but also from his family. During finals week, Amini's wife, Carolina, gave birth to his daughter, Selena. Carlson School of Management Dean Sri Zaheer, left, applauded at the conclusion of Murid Amini’s speech.
"I wondered what am I doing all of this for," he said in his speech. "What kind of world do I want my child to grow up in?"
As he studied, he remembered that people questioned whether he would succeed.
"Being in a different country and being an immigrant, you do face challenges every day," he said. "Sometimes they are language barriers, sometimes they are cultural challenges, sometimes it is just people who don't want you to succeed."
But he encouraged his audience of graduates to not let any factors get in their way.
"Take the inspiration and the education you received at the Carlson School to create a better future," he said. "Dream big. If you are not being laughed at, you are not dreaming big enough."
Amini received his bachelor's degree from the U in 2011 in electrical engineering and served as a board member for diversity and academic student organizations. He discovered his passion for business in an Intro to Strategic Management course.
Starting in 2014, Amini began working for Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. as a project manager. He applied for the job via the U's career center. While working for Ameriprise, Amini went to the Carlson School part time. Recently, Amini spent a semester studying economic development in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman.
Amini's family had fled the war in Afghanistan when he was a child. He went back to Afghanistan in 2009 for the first time as an adult. Many of his family members on his mother's side still live in Afghanistan, he said, and he was able to reconnect with his family and his culture.
As his speech concluded, Sri Zaheer, dean of the Carlson School of Management, asked Amini's family to stand for applause. Amini's father, Aminullah Amini, worked for the U from 1999-2011. His mother, Zeba Amini, works in Facilities Management at the University's Masonic Cancer Center.
They said they couldn't be prouder of their sons. Amini said they were all expected to excel in education.
"Some of my older siblings have much more accomplished academics than I do," he said
But Amini isn't done. He said he is considering pursuing a Ph.D. in the future.
"I plan to continue my relationship with the U," he said.
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