The 1984 Alumnae Board decided to bring more awareness of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) by creating an EDI Officer position, which Mani Ardalan Farhadi gratefully accepted. Below is an introduction to Mani and why she chose to apply herself to this opportunity.
Currently, I’m working as a Senior Planner at Stanford School of Medicine, in the Facilities Dept. Prior to this, I’d been working for 30 years in private architecture firms, with clients in the education industry. Having recently changed to being inside an institution as a staff member, it’s been fascinating to learn more.
Looking back, my time at Wellesley was the most challenging yet fulfilling experience I’ve ever had. Though there is no ‘typical’ Wellesley student, I bring distinctly different perspectives, both then and now, which I hope any of you can identify with:
1) As a transfer student, I missed out on first year traditions, and still have to play catch up to feel a sense of belonging. What did I miss?
2) Born in the US, but raised in my ancestral home of Iran, I come from being immersed in a third world country, which is often stereotyped. I developed a cultural appreciation for both east and west.
3) I witnessed first-hand a revolution and political power shift from a stable monarchy to a democratic dictatorship, with all the turmoil and chaos involved.
4) Having a hybrid nationality, I felt anti-American sentiment in Iran and once in the US, I felt anti-Iranian sentiment, causing identity struggles. Who am I?
5) Being on financial aid, I cobbled together tuition and expenses with scholarships, loans, work-study and part-time work off-campus on weeknights & weekends during the school year.
6) I wasn’t considered as a foreign student (being US-born), but I wasn’t fully an American either, so what box do I check?
7) As a modern Muslim woman, I didn’t identify with traditional expectations, but I wasn’t a fully liberated woman either that could denounce my heritage. Where do I belong?
8) As an Independent Study major (architecture), I didn’t fit into any specific dept or group of students. Without a large backing, I had to create my own curriculum.
Living on these parameters, I understand the sense of not fitting in, struggling with identity, and navigating hardships. I know what it’s like to be stereotyped and to encounter prejudice. Yet, I found a way to overcome and want to create a conversation around that.
You can find my passion for advocacy and activism on my media accounts in Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. I invite you to join on social platforms, on email, on zoom, or however you choose to connect so that we can integrate the landscape of Wellesley alumnae with the ever-changing faces of the universe. Let’s work together to represent a fair, global, and thoughtful perspective, to ensure our Wellesley programs, messaging and media are inclusive.
Mani Ardalan Farhadi ‘84