By Saeed Mirshekari

Jul 4, 2022

Happy 4th of July! This is a special day for me! Details are below.

Almost 14 years ago, I came to this country from thousands of miles away with a different culture; while I was holding three thousand bucks tight in my hands and three thousands thoughts tight in my head. I landed in Chicago O’Hare on a new year’s eve. I missed my flight there because of a long TSA process on my case. It was snowing outside and very cold. So I decided to stay over night in an almost-empty huge airport to catch the next available flight early morning next day/year. This was how I spent my first night in America but this was not the beginning of the story.

I was born in a middle-class family in the south of Tehran, only a few years after the Iranian Revolution and in the middle of Iran-Iraq war. This all may not seem to be the best place and time to be born and raised in, but I am grateful for all the unique experiences I’ve got to live during my time at that point of time and after; including both the joyful moments (most of which being shared moments with others) and the moments of pain (most of which I experienced in solo) that taught me big life lessons.

Flashing back to the new year’s eve of 2009, I went to work on day 1 by registering at Washington University in St. Louis as a student. I’ve been working ever since through which: I earned a PhD in Physics working with the best of the bests from Washington University in St. Louis, MIT, Caltech Institute of Technology and University of Florida; participated as a researcher in the Nobel Prize winning LIGO and developed a programming and data-science skillset; got the chance to work with many amazing people in global industry-leading companies such as Bayer and Mastercard here in St. Louis (yup, I love this city).

Despite all the great opportunities I experienced living in 4 corners of the world from France to Brazil, and from Iran to the United States, it took a lot of courage and sacrifices. Leaving the loved ones behind and not being able to see them growing up, aging, and be present next to them in person in our important life events has never been easy.

Today I’m writing here to share these happy moments with all of you in O'Fallon Labs and tell some of you (those who need to hear this) that American Dream is going strong for those who work hard and believe in it. America for me is beyond a place to live in; it is an idea you can choose to live through. The foundations of this country is based on great ideas and indeed it needs care and must be protected and improved; lots of work need to be done. I am very fortunate to live this experience and became a US citizen today.

As you can see from the attached pictures (almost 40 years apart) you may lose lots of hair along the way to live your dreams, but it is not impossible. Do your best and have a great Monday!

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About O'Fallon Labs

In O'Fallon Labs we help recent graduates and professionals to get started and thrive in their Data Science careers via 1:1 mentoring and more.

Saeed Mirshekari, PhD

Saeed is currently a Director of Data Science in Mastercard and the Founder & Director of O'Fallon Labs LLC. He is a former research scholar at LIGO team (Physics Nobel Prize of 2017). Learn more about Saeed...

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