“He is a nerd.” That may sound familiar when we are told about a very studious person wearing thick framed glasses, one who leafs through a thick pile of books, habitually studying much. What you are to go through proves otherwise. A young Iranian man, Mohammad-Amin Khashkhashi Moghaddam, is an Olympiad medal winner, but he defies the definition of a bookish guy, or – if you will – a “computer geek”, “bookworm” or “studyholic”.
Mohammad-Amin was the Iranian high schooler who grabbed one of the two gold medals the Iranian computer team collected at the 26th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Taipei, Taiwan, (July 13-20, 2014). In aggregate, Iran received two gold and two silver medals to rank sixth in the event. Standing behind such a successful young man is a student mom who seeks to make a leap toward higher academic levels.
Hamshahri Javan dedicated a few pages of its 474th issue on September 27 to interviews with Mohammad-Amin and his mother, taking a brief look at the life of a young man in a house where studying comes first. IFP has picked and translated part of what the weekly published:
Our presuppositions seemed to be true: a smart student with specs and of course diligent, but with a playful tone of voice, something he insists is a noticeable feature of all computer students. He says Olympiad students, for whom being glued to the computer screen is normal, are not into studying much!
The gold medal you received in a national Olympiad spared you the university entrance exam. What about a gold from an international contest?
It allows you to choose whatever university program you wish. […] It has no other benefits; that’s why students don’t take a shot at it after they win a gold medal in a national Olympiad.
But you did it, didn’t you?
It helps me work on my lessons and remain prepared for the Collegiate Programming Contest. I’m thinking about international competitions.
What do you do for fun? Just studying?
[…] I mostly do my computer-related works. I develop websites, build weblogs, etc. I also play ping pong.
What are your plans for the academic year?
[…] I want to get prepared for the Collegiate Programming Contest. With my friends, we will form a three-man team to attend a regional qualifying contest later this year. The top team will make it to the International Olympiad in Informatics in Morocco.
Do you have a job?
It is almost a month since I started to work for Café Bazaar Co., [the Iranian version of Android App Market]. A teacher of mine who worked for the company asked me to join up. The idea that working for the firm will teach me many new things prompted me to take up my teacher on his offer. I am now a member of a software-developing team in the company.
Are your siblings as studious as you are?
I have two elder sisters. My eldest sister has been admitted to an Industrial Engineering Ph.D. program. The other one has been admitted to a master’s program on animations at University of Tehran. We are all programmers. My mom has recently completed a master’s program and my father has a bachelor’s degree.
Is there anything you are at odds with your parents over?
No. Everything is ok, really! At times they ask about my job to see if it’s good or not. They have full trust in me.
How much money do you want to make?
I’m not after an office job. I’m trying to work on an idea of my own to make a big wad of money.
What about marriage?
I am not thinking about it yet.
*** The weekly leads off its interview with Mohammad-Amin’s mother by saying:
Mohammad-Amin, his two sisters and mom have each targeted higher levels of university studies, trying to take the bull by the horns. […] Zahra Mohammad-Nia, the mom, who is thinking about a Ph.D. these days, has an insatiable taste for studying.
Would you agree if Mohammad-Amin decided to go to work instead of studying?
Well, my husband and I have tried to let our children decide freely. […] When he bagged a gold medal and people learnt that he could pick any program in university he wished, they told us to ask him to choose medicine, but we said the choice is all his. As for their jobs, we always tell them to continue their lessons in order to land a decent job down the line.
You are studying at a postgraduate level. Is that right?
I got my degree back in 1989. I couldn’t continue my studies because I had to juggle my parenting responsibilities and the demands of my job. […] Two years ago I was admitted to University of Tehran to major in Psychology and Education of Exceptional Children.
Lessons and university entrance exam are always the main topics in your family, I suppose.
Your kids were encouraged by you or it was you who were inspired by the example of your children?
I think they followed my example. My eagerness motivated them.
Aren’t they tired of constant studying?
No! […] When I said a while ago that I wanted to study for a doctoral degree […] all of them, their dad included, encouraged me, saying I needed to study even harder.