The University of Toledo was highly represented at a recent awards ceremony honoring local leaders.
From a diverse pool of 148 nominees, Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs, Jose Rosales, an academic adviser in the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning, and nine UT alumni were honored as recipients of the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award.The award has been presented to 20 individuals who are 39 or younger in the Toledo community who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities.
Ghanbari works as a leader in many capacities of his life: serving in the military for 14 years and counting, including deployments to Afghanistan and Bosnia; participating in service work through Cedar Creek Church; and leading the University’s Military Service Center, to name a few.
“One of the first tenants of leadership is taking care of people; whether that’s people that work with you, people in your community, or people in your family,” Ghanbari said. “It is important to give back to those who have paved the way for you.”
Perhaps more important though is his desire to help people. Ghanbari has given CPR on multiple occasions to strangers. He recalled one instance when he saw a woman collapse on the sidewalk across from the Washington Monument. “I was trying to take a shortcut to get home that day from work when I witnessed Ms. Lucio collapse,” Ghanbari said. “Unfortunately, she passed away later that afternoon at the hospital; however, I believe there was a reason my path crossed with her that day.”
Ghanbari later received a proclamation from the governor of Texas — where Lucio was from — and was given the opportunity to speak to the student body in the school district where the woman worked for more than 40 years. His topic? Setting goals for yourself in life and how you can have a positive influence on others.
He continues serving others through his career, working with veterans to achieve their academic goals. By paying it forward, Ghanbari hopes to improve as many lives as possible.
“We as an institution can have a positive impact on our students, which I know we are. Our office, the Military Service Center, can have a positive impact on our student veterans, which I know we are,” Ghanbari said. “If our students go back and invest in one or two other people in the community, and those one or two in the community go invest in other people, that global impact starts right here at 2801 West Bancroft Street.”
Rosales’ philosophy is that connecting outside of the nine-to-five day is the work that really counts. As an academic adviser, Rosales works with conditional students — those below 2.0 grade point averages that are required to sign an agreement when entering the University — and helps them through any potential struggles they encounter.
“I think my overall passion is for education — the successful degree attainment for all students,” said the UT alumnus who received bachelor of arts and master of education degrees in 2010 and 2012, respectively. “I do find the students that are marginalized or underrepresented on college campuses, I’m drawn to them. And that’s where the reward and recognition comes in. Maybe I’m a good adviser, that’s really something that the students I serve would have to tell me. It’s the relationships that are built and maintained after I leave the office that may have attributed to my nomination.”
With his can-do attitude, Rosales gives 100 percent to everything he does — which, in his case, is a lot.
In addition to his role as an adviser, he is a PhD educational theory and social foundations student, a combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, campus adviser for the Latino Student Union, president of the alumni chapter of his fraternity, and he recently collaborated to bring back the Association of Latino Faculty and Staff.
“When I’m in the classroom, I want to give them all of Jose and I don’t want them to hear, ‘It’s been a long day at the office, and I’m really not feeling it’ when they deserve me as an academic,” he said. “It’s the same with the Marine Corps and with my students; I just want to give myself to everyone I possibly can.”
Rosales said his motivation was first inspired by his fourth-grade teacher who worked full time at a restaurant while she was teaching. Her passion to keep pushing herself to do well is something that inspired him and in turn what he tries to instill in students — particularly the students who would not have made it through college if they hadn’t received guidance.
“That alone wakes me up when I’m tired, gets me to write a paper when I have nothing else to write, keeps me going; because there is a voice that needs to be heard and I’m just fortunate enough to be that voice for others at this point in my life,” he said. “In my opinion, this was not an individual award. This award was won by everyone that has poured into me over the years and for those that I get to pour into in the years to come.”
Other 20 Under 40 Leadership Award recipients who are UT alumni are:
• Elizabeth Baldwin, opera soprano — 1990 bachelor of arts degree;
• Darren Kohne, RightBrain Networks, Atlanta Hawks, Darren Kohne Enterprises — 2000 bachelor’s degree in business administration and 2003 master of business administration degree;
• Douglas Mallette, HCR Manor Care — 2001 bachelor’s degree in business administration and 2007 master of business administration degree;
• Christi Rotterdam, ProMedica — 2006 bachelor of science degree;
• Steven Schroeder, Health Care REIT — 2000 bachelor’s degree in business administration and 2006 master of business administration degree;
• Rebecca Shope, Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP — 2008 juris doctor;
• John Skeldon, Cooperative Business Services — 2004 bachelor’s degree in business administration;
• Sarah Skow, Spengler Nathanson PLL — 2006 juris doctor; and
• Alicia Wagner, HEELS Coaching & Consulting — 2003 bachelor of arts degree.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the program with the 20 new awardees joining 380 individuals previously recognized.