Roya Mohagheghi Ansari ’83

2008 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Although Roya Mohagheghi Ansari was born in Detroit, she grew up in Iran before attending high school in Switzerland and college at Macalester — the latter during the Iran hostage crisis. Those experiences, coupled with a worldview cultivated as a political science major, made Ansari uniquely qualified to act years later when her son, mistaken for Iraqi, was bullied at his elementary school during the early years of the U.S. war in Iraq.

Ansari responded by developing the highly interactive educational program, Cultures in a Box. Beginning with her son’s school and spreading from there, Ansari made classroom presentations introducing the cultures of some 20 countries through their music, currency, native dress, geography, food, customs, history, geography and games.

The response was immediate and positive. Children petitioned their principal for more of the programs. One principal told her that violence in the lunchroom of his multicultural school had gone down 80 percent. Experiencing such strong interest from children, schools, and parents, Ansari decided to incorporate technology to bring the project to a wider audience. Currently director of Global Sales and Business Development at SiliconExpert Technologies, Ansari decided to use her 23 years of technology experience to incorporate the same concepts into edutainment multimedia products produced by her new company Mozaik Multimedia. Her efforts to engage cultural understanding earned her the title Santa Clara Woman of the Year and feature stories in Bay Area print and broadcast media.

Kristin Midelfort ’74 wrote, "Roya is vivacious, expressive and enthusiastic about Macalester, her business, issues of public education, and the need for cultural understanding in the U.S. and around the world."