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Left Iran as teen with only T-shirt, pants, sneakers & no money

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Left Iran as teen with only T-shirt, pants, sneakers & no money

Dr. Abbas Kashani, M.D. in his new Manteca office across the street from Doctors Hospital.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED February 5, 2009 2:40 a.m.
It was the distant but vivid dream of an Iranian teenager who left his country as a refugee some 30 years ago to educate himself in the U.S.

A strong character along with determination and his focusing  on the only thing important to him in life – an education – brought Dr. Abbas Kashani, M.D., to the United States and eventually to Manteca.   He now practices here in Ear, Nose, Throat and Facial Plastics medicine.

“I didn’t come here to make a lot of money.  I didn’t come here to become rich and famous.  I came here to go to school,” he said.

He was just a teen when he was urged to leave his native Iran by a brother – 11 years his senior – who told him he needed to venture out of their homeland for a better life.  Dr. Kashani said everything he owns, everything he has attained,  he owes to his brother, Hossein, who visualized, and commanded a better future for him.

“He was the encouraging voice for me to leave.  We were very close and it was not easy for him, but he did it,” he said.  “He was the thinking brain of our family.”

Leaving Iran with only a T-shirt, jeans, no money, a pair of sneakers, with no papers on him, he was successful in getting out of the country.  He arrived first in Spain – after leaving Iran illegally –where he stayed for nearly two years,  quickly learning the language and working at a number of odd jobs.

Coming to the United States in September 1983 – again without a dime in his pocket – and  on a “refugee” status,  he started to learn English his first day in the States.  He was determined to get an education and enrolled in City College of  New York where he majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  City College is part of the City University of New York.

Worked variety of part-time jobs while going to college on full-time basis
Supporting himself being a necessity,  he worked full time at a variety of  jobs on the weekends – Thursday through Sunday – and attended college Monday through Wednesday on a full-time basis.  

“I worked two to three jobs and wonderful things started happening,” he said.  “I worked in just about everything you can imagine.  I worked in service stations. I worked in restaurants. I worked in garages and tutored people’s kids with math and science with my great broken English and at the flea markets for awhile.”

He recalled that he never worked less than a 40 hour week while going to college.

Dr. Kashani finished his undergrad degree with a near-perfect 3.97 grade point average (GPA) drawing the attention of Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT ) – his only grad school application – where  he obtained a full-ride scholarship.  “That was the turning point in my life,” he said.  “It was like a dream come true.”

Kashani graduated from there with a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

For the next few years he worked as a consultant for IBM in New York.   After honing his language skills he decided to go back to school and obtain a medical degree – something  he found to be “pretty pricey.”  But it was “all downhill” from there on in his life, he noted.

“Medical school compared with the tough curriculum at MIT was a breeze,” he said.  “It was quite a bit of work,  but MIT was the beacon of strength and discipline – it was quite an honor,” he added.  

He obtained his medical degree from the New York Medical College and did his five years of residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine with an additional year in residency in facial plastic surgery.   “I have been in school for a long time – 17 years.    I was board certified for private practice in 2001,” he said.

Dr. Kashani said he had been living in New York when he traveled to California some 12 years ago to attend a relative’s wedding in Los Angeles.  “That was my first time in California and I actually loved it,” he remembers.

He came back to California a few years later,  and took the Pacific Coast Highway driving all the way up to Napa and to Lake Tahoe and back.  “I promised myself that I would someday come back to live and work in California,” he said.

Motorcyclist enthusiast
One main attraction to the north part of the state was its vistas – its country sides, its open roads in the foothills and beyond – where he can ride one of his four motorcycles and inhale the California beauty.  He said he’s seen nothing like it in the country.  “I didn’t come to California because I needed a job, but just to enjoy it,” he said. “To enjoy this beautiful, beautiful state the way it is, is quite an honor.”

Dr. Kashani decided on the ENT specialty when he was in medical school.  He had three choices in disciplines in  his specialty rotation: wanting first to go for neuro surgery.  Orthopedic Surgery or Ear, Nose and Throat were two other choices.

Once he served the rotation into ENT he said he realized, “It is for me!”

He continues today  to show appreciation for his brother’s efforts in pushing him to find a better life.  While he has fond memories of what his parents did for him, his brother and his four sisters, they  were too busy just trying to make ends meet.  “My father was a wonderful and respected, respected man who could barely keep up with expenses,” said.

While his dad has passed on,  his mother still lives in Iran and comes to visit him occasionally here in the U.S.  The language barrier has been a problem for her, he said.  She first visited  when he was in medical school and he was quick to obtain a green card for her.  She enjoyed the first few days,  but she wanted to go back right away because she couldn’t understand the language, he added.

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