Fighting against all odds
At 18 years old, Heidar Modaresi left behind all he knew in Shiraz, Iran, to pursue the American Dream as a student at the University of California at Berkeley. That dream turned into a nightmare when he suddenly found himself fighting for his life after a horrific motorcycle accident.
Thanks to the around-the-clock care by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and physical therapists, he was able to survive the impossible and go on to earn two doctoral degrees, raise a family and enjoy a successful career as a psychologist and professor at Winthrop University.
Later in life, Dr. Modaresi once again placed his life in the hands of another caregiver team, after being diagnosed with chronic heart disease. Both of these life experiences left him with a deep appreciation for healthcare – the doctors who saved his life, of course, but especially the nurses who seemed to always be at his side, nurturing him back to health.
“I have a long history of being taken care of by nurses,” said Dr. Modaresi. “I have been in so many near-death experiences, from a major motor vehicle accident requiring weeks of hospitalization and years of rehabilitation, to chronic issues associated with aging. While the physicians played a role in keeping me alive, it has invariably been the nurses who made the healing happen. I really love and remember specific nurses, because I have been a chronic patient.”
This relationship came full circle in 2017 when his daughter, Anahita, was recruited for a position as development director at the MUSC College of Nursing. Inspired by the caliber of the students she met during her interview, she was reminded of the nurses who had so deeply impacted the course of her family’s life and left the College that day determined to serve the profession that gave her dad his life back. Shortly afterwards, she accepted the job.
About 18 months into her job at the College, Anahita decided to honor her dad’s resilience and bravery through a gift in her estate. “I wanted to teach students about a man who came from Iran with nothing and ended up making so many contributions to this country, and I wanted honor all of those amazing nurses who have helped and continue to help him,” she said.
Soon after Anahita established the Dr. Heidar A. Modaresi Endowed Nursing Scholarship, her dad responded with a planned gift of his own to the scholarship. “It’s refreshing to see some people fight against all odds and to see them make great contributions to humanity,” he said. “Why not help a group of people who have proved themselves, have gotten a degree, and are applying to a very difficult program to pursue a very noble profession?”
Scholarships are a vital piece to ensure the talent of our students and the workforce. They are the key, and the Modaresi family has ensured that MUSC has that key now and for generations to come.