Alumni Spotlight

Radin Bonakdar (BS ’19, Bio): Closer to the dream

For Radin Bonakdar, the road to earning his bachelor’s degree was longer than for most. But today, he is one step closer to his dream of becoming a dentist.

“My mom is a dentist. I went to school, and she would pick me up and bring me to her office,” Bonakdar said. “I grew up in her office. I always liked it.”

Bonakdar, who is now in a post-baccalaureate program to prepare for dental school, said he always looked up to his mother, who has overcome considerable challenges. When she was a child, her own mother, Bonakdar’s grandmother, was killed at their home during a bombing.

“My grandmom couldn’t find two of her sons, so she went back in to find them, and a bomb dropped on the house,” Bonakdar relayed. “Both she and my aunt were killed. My mom was in middle school.”

Bonakdar’s mother went on to excel in school, attending a university and training as a dentist in Tehran. Bonakdar and his mother eventually moved to the United States in 2014, after he graduated high school in Tehran. But when they arrived at their new home in Pennsylvania, he said, he couldn’t jump right into college.

“I went back to high school and graduated again,” Bonakdar said. “I had to take a bunch of courses and learned English during my senior year.”

By 2015, Bonakdar had applied and was accepted to Temple, where he decided to study biology to prepare to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a dentist. “At first, it was really tough for me. I was crying to my mom, and I wanted to go back. But as time passed, I stopped resisting and went with the flow and really liked it,” Bonakdar said. “I’m still not to my goal, which is to be a dentist, but I’m happy I did my best and really happy with the results now.”

- Morgan Zalot