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Securing a Brighter Future for her Family | Sharona Zarbafi’s BBA Valedictorian Q&A

When Sharona Zarbafi walks across the stage in her cap and gown later this week at Yorkville University’s 2023 Convocation ceremony in British Columbia, it will be her third time doing so. 

Sharona Zarbafi

This year’s valedictorian of the Bachelor of Business Administration program specializing in Energy Management previously earned two other degrees – one in Accounting and another in Graphic Design – in her native Iran. 

She said she chose the BBA program at Yorkville as a path toward a better future for herself and her loved ones – namely her husband and son, whom she emigrated to Canada with. 

“Although this challenging journey was never easy, it contributed to my personal growth, expanded my perspectives, and enriched my knowledge,” said Zarbafi, who maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.16 throughout her studies at YU – an achievement for which she credits “the exceptional professors and faculty members at Yorkville University,” whose guidance and expertise she said played a significant role in her academic journey.

Zarbafi, who’s passionate about energy conservation and susatainability, recently sat down to reflect on her time at Yorkville University and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:

1. What brought you to Yorkville University? Where were you in your life/career when you decided to continue your studies with us?

When my family and I made the decision to relocate to Canada, I found myself at a pivotal point in my life and career. I had already obtained two bachelor’s degrees – one in accounting and another in graphic design – and had accumulated nearly five years of experience in accounting in my home country. However, in order to secure a brighter future for myself and my loved ones, I knew that furthering my education was essential.

Expanding and enhancing my knowledge and career became my top priority. I wanted to leverage my previous education and experience, while also exploring new avenues that could provide me with updated business perspectives. Pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration seemed like a logical choice, as it would allow me to build upon my existing foundation in accounting and delve into broader business concepts.

I found Yorkville University to be an excellent choice as it offered a Bachelor of Business Administration program with a wide range of specializations, allowing me to explore different areas within the business field and find the best fit for my interests and goals.

What attracted me to Yorkville University was not only its reputable education, but also its emphasis on practical, real-world applications of knowledge and its commitment to equipping students with the skills necessary for success in their careers.

By deciding to continue my studies at Yorkville University, I aimed to combine my prior education, professional experience, and the resources provided by the university to pave the way for a successful and fulfilling future. I recognized that this opportunity would not only contribute to my personal growth, but also create a solid foundation for the well-being and prosperity of my family.

2. What made you decide to pursue your Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Energy Management?  

As an individual from Iran, a country that has been struggling with the devastating consequences of climate change, including desertification and drought, I was deeply motivated to actively contribute towards adapting to and mitigating climate change. Recognizing the urgent need for effective solutions, I eagerly sought out opportunities to make a tangible difference. It was during this search that I discovered the Bachelor of Business Administration program at Yorkville University, which offered a specialization in Energy Management.

With my passion for environmental sustainability and my desire to make a positive impact, pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Energy Management became an obvious choice for me since it holds immense potential for addressing environmental challenges and spearheading sustainable practices. I was excited by the prospect of gaining a comprehensive understanding of energy systems, renewable technologies, and sustainable business practices. Armed with this knowledge, I believed I could play a significant role in driving transformative change within the energy sector, both in Iran and globally.

3. What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at Yorkville University?   

Studying at Yorkville University has been a transformative experience for me, unlike any other academic journey I have undertaken before. While I have previously obtained bachelor’s degrees in accounting and graphic design in my home country, the education I received at Yorkville University was unparalleled. The combination of exceptional professors and a dedicated faculty created an environment that truly fostered growth and development.

One of the most important takeaways from my studies at Yorkville University is the practicality of the learning experience. Unlike traditional classroom settings, we were given the opportunity to work on real projects that pushed the boundaries of our critical thinking skills and real-time proficiency. This hands-on approach not only made our learning more engaging and relevant, but also equipped us with the practical skills necessary to excel in our future careers. By applying our knowledge to authentic challenges, we were able to develop a deep understanding of how theory translates into practice, preparing us to make a meaningful impact in our respective fields.

Moreover, the experience of studying at Yorkville University was not solely focused on academics. It was a journey of personal growth and building valuable relationships. Interacting with passionate peers and engaging with diverse perspectives enriched my educational experience and broadened my horizons.

While my time at Yorkville University certainly had its share of demanding moments and required hard work, the overall experience was joyful and fulfilling. The knowledge I gained through my studies has been invaluable, serving as a foundation for success and paving the way for a brighter future for both myself and my loved ones. The combination of rigorous academic challenges, supportive faculty, and the camaraderie amongst fellow students has instilled in me a sense of confidence and preparedness to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities in my chosen career path.

4. What are your plans after graduation, both immediate and long term?   

As I have mentioned about my past experience of working in the financial field, I am currently working in the same industry as a BBA graduate. However, according to the knowledge and skills I have gained based on my specialization, I am eager to join an organization or industry where I can contribute to developing and implementing sustainable energy solutions. My goal is to work alongside professionals who share the same commitment to creating a greener and more sustainable future.

By securing a position related to energy management or sustainable business practices, I will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact by integrating sustainable strategies, optimizing energy usage, and promoting environmentally conscious practices within the organization. This experience will deepen my understanding of the field and allow me to contribute to real-world initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Looking ahead to the long term, my ultimate goal is to play a leadership role in driving sustainable change within the energy sector. I aspire to become an influential advocate for renewable energy, working towards the widespread adoption and integration of clean technologies. To achieve this, I plan to continuously expand my knowledge and expertise through ongoing professional development, advanced certifications, and potentially pursuing higher education in a specialized field.

5. If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?  

If I were to offer one piece of advice to an incoming student, it would be to fully embrace the invaluable opportunity of interacting with and learning from the exceptional and knowledgeable professors at Yorkville University. Recognize that this learning experience is a unique and precious opportunity that may not be repeated in our lives.

Moreover, as a former international student, I understand the challenges that come with adapting to a new environment. It is crucial to remember that despite the hurdles you may face, your determination and passion for success will be the driving force that propels you towards achieving your dreams. Embrace the journey, embrace the growth, and let your goals inspire you to overcome any obstacles that come your way.

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