From Herat to Haas, Afghan MBA Student Creates a New Life

Sal Parsa, MBA 18, once believed his destiny was to become a tailor, or a mechanic.

Born in Afghanistan and raised during Taliban rule to a family without much education, Parsa didn’t have many options. By age twelve, he was going to school half the day and working the other half sewing clothes.

That would have been his future, too. But then something happened: the Americans arrived in his hometown of Herat.

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MBA Student Perspective: How I'm Leaning In to Become One of the 7% of Women In Venture Capital

Photo: At my internship with my soon-to-be boss, Bee Partners Founder & Managing Partner Michael Berolzheimer, MBA 07

My passion is solving problems that matter. That passion often attracts me to disruptive industries and ways of thinking. My appreciation for risk-taking attracted me to entrepreneurship, and motivated me to apply to business school. 

I chose Haas because one of its Defining Principles, “Question the Status Quo,” deeply resonated with me. From my perspective, questioning the status quo is exemplified by Haas’ vast entrepreneurial ecosystem, the cultivation of emotional intelligence, and its emphasis on gender equity. These three things have defined and transformed my time here.

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MBA Student Perspective: A Non-traditional Student Finds Her Voice

I am probably not the typical image that comes to mind when most people think of a business school student.

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MBA Student Perspective: Sharing Haas with a Partner

It wasn’t an easy decision to uproot my life—and my partner Ben’s life—to move across the country from Boston to pursue my MBA at Berkeley-Haas. 

I had been working in the energy sector for seven years, and I knew I wanted to stay in the industry. However, I wanted a more formal business education than my job or my undergraduate psychology and environmental science degree could offer. And I was drawn to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area, as one of the top places in the world for clean energy innovation and investment.

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MBA Student Perspective: Choosing a Graduate Degree to Maximize my social Impact

As I began thinking about graduate school, I knew I wanted to choose a program that would help me combine my two passions: entrepreneurship and international migration.

These two forces of creative disruption—driven by risk and ingenuity— seem to me to be the clearest and most hopeful forms of human agency. Yet for far too many of the 245 million people on the move today, constraints undermine their ability to secure their own futures. My ambition is to build a company that develops technology and data-driven solutions to help address emerging migration challenges.

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MBA Student Perspective: "I am from Saudi Arabia, and I am a Feminist"

My name is Khalid Alali and I am a full-time MBA student in the Class of 2018. I am from Saudi Arabia, and I am a feminist. 

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Humans of Haas Podcast: Two MBA Love Stories

Tianyi Ma, MBA 17, and Joanna-Xiaojun Guo, MBA 18, fell in love and married in China before Tianyi enrolled in the full-time Berkeley MBA; when Joanna visited him, she also fell in love with Berkeley, set her sights on the program, and joined him a year later.

Joyce Barua and Mate De Quesada, both MBA 16, fell for each other in their native Peru, where they were not always comfortable being out as a lesbian couple. They enrolled together in the Berkeley MBA program, and it was there, as students, that their relationship blossomed into marriage.

The couples’ love stories—both deeply entwined with their Berkeley MBA experiences—are featured in the 3rd episode of the Humans of Haas podcast, "Love at Haas."

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All For One: Berkeley-Haas Students Build MBA Diversity

If you look around at the mix of students, speakers, faculty, and events on campus, you'll quickly see that every program is devoted to fostering MBA diversity at Berkeley-Haas.

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Berkeley MBA Study Teams Yield Insights on Diversity, Leadership, Self

At Berkeley-Haas, our students contribute diverse perspectives, valuable experiences, and a contagious ambition to learn and grow. If you read our previous post on how our full-time MBA students contribute to their study teams, you probably got a sense of the varied, yet valuable, contributions that each student makes to the team.

Our unique culture is shaped by the different skill sets and insights that students bring to one another—and to our program at large—but we also believe there's a symbiotic relationship at work: when students bring positivity to their peers, they receive enthusiasm; when they share a new idea or challenge a convention, they're met with open-minded interest; when they step up to lead, they find support.

Whether they've gained a sense of confidence, patience to work through a problem, or an appreciation for all voices, at Berkeley-Haas, when our students give, they also receive. Read on to see what study team members have gotten from collaborating with their peers.

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Teams at Berkeley-Haas: MBA Students Learn With—And From—Each Other



What would you do if you had to solve the California drought in just 6 weeks? Unless you happen to be a drought expert, you'd probably recruit some help, collaborating with experts from different industries. And from their diverse perspectives, perhaps you'd manage to formulate a plan. But as with many circumstances in life, you wouldn't, and couldn't, do it alone.

At Berkeley-Haas, we have a longstanding tradition of uniting great, ambitious minds from every industry. We're proud to be a diverse MBA program, one that goes beyond demographics and statistics to value a wide range of life and work experiences.

In the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program, our study teams exemplify the potential of what can happen when students with varying backgrounds and experiences collaborate to come up with creative, strategic solutions to current crises—like the California drought.

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