Ranya Moshashaian Asl
Ranya Moshashaian Asl’s journey reflects unwavering dedication to immigrant rights. Starting in Ahwaz, Iran, she pursued an educational path to the United States, obtaining a BS in Neuroscience from UCLA and a master's degree in Translational Biotechnology from USC. Her experience underscores the impact of intersecting identities, a theme that often shapes our perspectives and life encounters.
Raised by parents who deeply valued education, Asl’s father, a pharmacist, overcame barriers in Iran, advocating for the Ahwazi Arabs, an indigenous ethnic minority in Iran’s predominantly Persian population. Her mother, a dentist, shared the same passion for learning. Asl’s upbringing fueled her determination to succeed, prompting her to leave her family and embrace new challenges in the U.S.
In the U.S., Asl had limited support from a handful of relatives. However, assimilation wasn't her only challenge. In addition to her studies, she served as a caregiver to her ailing grandparent. Amid these responsibilities, she faced the devastating loss of her father to cancer, who was thousands of miles away. Despite these trials, her journey led her to take on a leadership role as the Director of Outreach for RAHA International, providing support for Iranian immigrants in the LGBTQIA+ community. Although she was a self-described introvert, she became a bridge-builder across different communities.
“Some quieter folks wouldn't chat during the group meetings, but before or after, they'd come up to me and share their stories,” said Asl, referring to her time in RAHA’s therapeutic and peer-supported group sessions. “It was one of the most meaningful things I experienced before med school – being a confidant, just listening as they shared,” she said, adding, “What's better than that?”
Navigating the complexities of tradition and personal authenticity, Asl’s ongoing journey of self-discovery led her to a profound insight—that embracing oneself means embracing all the complexities of identity. Her experiences ignited a passion for broader change, evident in her advocacy through academia, social medicine, and research.
Today, she sees a host of possibilities in her future, including an interest in hematology/oncology fueled by her father's battle with cancer. She is eager to explore and make a meaningful impact wherever her medical journey takes her.