From Iranian Prisoner To MBA: An Outcast Finds His Mission

Amozegar at the club fair in Rady School of Management where he represented the Net Impact Club. Courtesy photo

Why not just leave Iran? Because that’s what the government wants, Amozegar explains: to empty the country of Baha’i’s by making their lives socially and economically difficult. But his goal is to make their lives better. Among his pursuits to that end, he taught at the BIHE school.

“I feel that I can be the most influential and effective in Iran. I can offer my services to my community,” he says. “At the same time, I have had to struggle to not to be a victim of learned helplessness.”

Anyone else might have been satisfied at this point. Amozegar had a good job and plenty of work opportunities. Yet he was not satisfied. There was no place in Iran where he could learn to be an entrepreneur, where he could learn how to launch a sustainable startup. He started to look abroad. took the Graduate Record Exam, and applied to the Rady School, which accepted him and offered him a merit-based scholarship. He managed to skirt the first two U.S. Muslim bans — another miracle. He and his wife moved to San Diego, where they fell in love with the ocean and the community. And Ehsan fell in love with the Rady School team spirit.

“I was so happy,” he says. “My future changed from very uncertain to crystal clear and full of promising plans and programs.”


Amozegar in front of the Giesel Library at UCSD. Courtesy photo

Amozegar loves Rady because it’s a small, relatively new school that “lets you follow your own way.” He’s not entirely sure where that way will lead, he says, but he is passionate’ about entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. “I’ve always wanted to help communities move to the next phase of sustainability,” he says.

While he has an MS in sustainable engineering, he’s looking to Rady, which is very entrepreneurial, for the skills to start sustainable businesses. He is currently president of the school’s Net Impact Club, part of a national network that serves as “leadership accelerators for future change-makers.”

One of his professors says he is “humble, soft-spoken, and sweet. He makes everyone smile.” Paul Wynn, a former program manager at a Boeing subsidiary who, in his first year at Rady, is already the CEO of a small flight training company, knows Amozegar well. “He’s definitely one of the stars of our cohort,” Wynn says. “Ehsan is willing to stand up for what he believes in and speak his mind. He’s very passionate about climate change and practices to affect that. People like him are going to make a difference.”


In Amozegar’s Leadership class, everyone had to say something about their background. When he told his story, he says, “My classmates were shocked. They were curious to know more. No one had a similar experience.” He enjoyed the class, where he learned how to be a team player.

In fact, he’s enthusiastic about all his classes, including new products and services and marketing, because the focus is on the customer rather than the product. He says Social Entrepreneurship, or “how to make a business out of a social or environmental issue,” is a favorite, too.

“The challenge with my career interest is that many areas are considered to be related to sustainability,” Amozegar says. “You have to find your specific passion and talent, your niche enough that you can be effectively targeted and followed.”

In the meantime, Amozegar’s hands are full. He has been accepted into the EDF Climate Corps Fellowship program, and he will be working this summer with Pharmavite LLC in Los Angeles, which produces Nature Made, a well-known vitamin and supplement brand.

As he contemplates the future, the possibilities are endless.

“There are amazing people and faculties in Rady,” Amozegar says. “I want more students who have a vision of changing the world to pass the outcomes and insights we gain to people around the world.”