International Programs is honored to present the award for this year’s International Parents of the Year to Mohammad Sayeed Hossain and Nasrina Parvin. Mr. Hossain and Mrs. Parvin were nominated by their son, Rezwan Mohammad Sayeed, a PhD candidate in the College of Engineering, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, for being strong advocates for equal rights movements and supporting Rezwan’s educational journey.
According to Rezwan, his parents believed the practice of equal rights movements begins at home. They always treated him and his sister equally, including the same education opportunities and basic amenities, which at the time in his country were not always followed. They regularly helped out people in need, especially since a large population of Bangladesh is still living below the general poverty-line. “We as a family were not affluent but solvent enough to help others in need, something that taught me the importance of giving back to the community and society regardless of culture, ethnicity, or religion,” said Rezwan.
At the age of one, Mr. Hossain contracted polio, affecting his right leg and left hand. Despite this challenge, he persevered, championing the cause of equal rights in all environments and refusing to let his condition impede his pursuit of education. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in economics with distinction and harbored dreams of pursuing a PhD. Even after obtaining prestigious scholarships abroad, he selflessly chose to forgo his educational aspirations to raise his children in their home country. This sacrifice became a powerful motivator for Rezwan, inspiring him to pursue a PhD at the University of Iowa.
Mr. Hossain was known for his remarkable resilience, strong work ethic, and analytical ability. His values deeply influenced Rezwan's problem-solving skills. He always emphasized the importance of finding joy and satisfaction in one's work, a belief Rezwan continued to hold dear, even after his father's passing nine years ago.
Mrs. Parvin shared her husband’s philosophy for Rezwan to pursue advanced education at a globally recognized university. Understanding the sacrifices involved, she supported Rezwan's decision to pursue graduate studies in the United States, although the thousands-of-miles separation was emotionally challenging, particularly in the absence of her husband, who had passed away. However, she was always supportive and found great joy in Rezwan's academic achievements until her own passing last year.
“My parents always told me that true joy and peace in life comes from living life by your own standards, and never to compare or envy others’ achievements,” shared Rezwan. “This philosophy has helped me navigate life through thick and thin. In today’s world, when competition can be fierce and often stressful, my parents taught me to compete with myself every day, trying to be a better version of who I want to be. I believe this philosophy could nurture any individual to become an upstanding member of society.”
Honorable mention for the 2023 International Parents of the Year award goes to Sui Fischer, mother of Suryamin Liman from Makasar, Indonesia, and Sova and Ganesh Singh, parents of Priyanka Singh from Kolkata, India.
Liman is a PhD candidate in biomedical science. In his words, “Growing up under the steadfast guidance of my mother, I have come to understand that perseverance and optimism are not just words, but powerful forces that can shape one's life. These qualities, embodied by my mother, have not only been guiding lights throughout my life but have also inspired me to pursue my academic aspirations at the University of Iowa.”
Singh, a PhD candidate in informatics, believes that others can draw inspiration from her parents' story by fostering an environment of unwavering support for their children's aspirations, allowing them to pursue their dreams and soar to great heights. “My parents' belief in me, coupled with their refusal to compare me to others, are lessons worth emulating.”
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.