Sona Tahmasian Hadani

Graduating Cal State LA business student finds ways to help

The Glendale resident will graduate summa cum laude

Sona Tahmasian Hadani

By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service

Cal State LA student Sona Tahmasian Hadani has come to embody the university’s ethic of engagement and service for the public good.  

Whether as a tutor for fellow students or a volunteer assisting community members with filing their taxes, she feels most fulfilled when helping others overcome an obstacle.

“When I see their happy faces and they feel confident, I feel so good,” Tahmasian Hadani says. “That’s a big philosophy in my life—to help people in any way I can.”

The 35-year-old Glendale resident will graduate in May with a 3.99 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an option in management from the College of Business and Economics.

For as long as she can remember, Tahmasian Hadani has been dedicated to helping others learn. Growing up in Iran, she’d help her friends with math homework in grade school, explaining difficult concepts and forming study groups to practice problems.

After high school, she worked as a teacher and math tutor and then for an industrial automation business before moving to the U.S.

At Glendale Community College, Tahmasian Hadani tutored students in financial accounting, business statistics, and all levels of math between taking her own courses. Before transferring to Cal State LA in 2018, she earned an associate degree in business administration and a certificate in accounting.

During the past two years, Tahmasian Hadani has worked as a math and business finance tutor in Cal State LA’s University Tutorial Center. She has helped hundreds of students improve their study skills and organization techniques, prepare for exams, and navigate difficult course concepts.

When tutoring other students, Tahmasian Hadani has drawn from her own experience as an Armenian immigrant from Iran who learned English as a third language. She knows firsthand the challenges that students face trying to navigate cultural and language differences. “I do my best to help because I really understand their feelings,” she says.

Tahmasian Hadani is passionate about helping fellow students overcome academic obstacles—and goes out of her way to do it.

When a student visited the tutorial center struggling with a marketing data analysis assignment, Tahmasian Hadani offered to help even though the problem was outside her typical tutoring area and her major. Working side-by-side, she and the student were able to figure out the problem together.

“We are here to help students,” Tahmasian Hadani says. “That’s the point of the center—it’s a place to help.”

The University Tutorial Center is housed in the Center for Academic Success, which is directed by Andrew Long, who Tahmasian Hadani has come to consider a role model and a mentor. During her time at Cal State LA, she says she has been inspired by his commitment to serving students.

Tahmasian Hadani also worked as a supplemental instruction leader for the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology’s Summer Transition to ECST Program (STEP). STEP helps prepare incoming students for their courses of study with specialized math instruction.

She also volunteered as a lead trainer and tax preparer for the Cal State LA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program through the College of Business and Economics. The program aims to provide low-to-middle-income taxpayers in Los Angeles with free tax preparation services and financial literacy education.

“I love it because it is a community service and a way for me to apply my knowledge in the real world,” Tahmasian Hadani says.

The Cal State LA VITA Program, led by Professor Suren Sahakyan, is co-sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, California Department of Community Services and Development, State Farm insurance company and H&R Block.

A Dean’s List student graduating summa cum laude, Tahmasian Hadani is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Tahmasian Hadani says her journey to a degree wasn’t easy. She is grateful for the support of her husband, Martin, and the faculty and staff at Cal State LA who helped her succeed.

When she thinks about graduating, many emotions come to mind.

Happy. Honored. Proud. Excited.

“There are not enough words to express my feelings,” Tahmasian Hadani says, “and how delighted and thrilled I am that I could accomplish this fantastic chapter of my life successfully.”

After graduation, Tahmasian Hadani hopes to land a management job at a business in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In the future, she may want to return for a master’s degree or even become a professor. Whatever she does, she wants to help others.

“I hope to have a career to serve and contribute to my community more and more as much as I can—that’s my goal,” she says.