“Friends was a place that created an environment that allowed students to hold different opinions. Students could express themselves without feeling judged.” Andrew Ghalili is a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI). After graduating Friends in 2011, Andrew initially was on the Pre-Med track. As a student, Andrew always loved math and science. Middle School Math Specialist Monica Witt is a teacher whom Andrew remembers fondly. Monica was his Grade 9 and AP Physics teacher. Like many students, Andrew recalls his English classes being challenging. Teachers like Chris Doire made class fun, and years later Andrew came back to Friends to fill in as a substitute for Chris’ class.
Returning to Friends, after graduating from John Hopkins University, Andrew had planned to attend medical school. He taught chemistry to assist with this career path. Being in a familiar place, like Friends which felt like home, helped Andrew figure out what he wanted to do professionally. He also coached Junior Varsity basketball and soccer. “Having the trust of Friends as a recent college grad to come back to teach and coach at the School was extremely meaningful and personal for me.” Andrew then went to grad school with the intention of working in international policy or in the intelligence field. He interned at the Senate with a focus on foreign policy work before joining the Jewish Institute For National Security of America. Andrew’s current job at NUFDI affords him the opportunity to work for an organization that has a huge influence in helping Iranian Americans get their voice out to influence U.S. policy in Iran.
“When people ask where I went to high school and I mention Friends, they always say ‘oh the Quaker School’.” Meeting For Worship in the Meetinghouse was a place where Andrew learned to meditate. “The silence added structure and left me feeling refreshed and energized to start the day. I have not had the time to do so since.” While Andrew’s views may not always align with Quaker values, “Friends helped shape how I go about analyzing policies and generally, when thinking about ideas or how to solve problems. It has led me to be more thoughtful and has added a new perspective to my approach.”
In addition to Chris Doire, Andrew would be remiss if he didn’t mention the following teachers who have made an impact on his life: “Dave Lieber, whether it was when he worked in the Financial Aid Office, as a coach or colleague. AP Chemistry teacher, Fred Schubert is one of the reasons why I wanted to come back and teach at Friends. And of course math teacher, Sue Beyersdorf. Subbing for Sue’s class and the way she taught math when I was a student made it so much easier to understand the material later in college. Warren Salandy and Adam Cash were also extremely instrumental during my time at Friends.”
The current situation in Iran is at the forefront of Andrew’s consciousness these days. “My hopes for the future are for a free Iran. I hope to go to Iran with my family one day, this is a number one priority, says Andrew. “Ultimately I hope to have a real impact in foreign policy and diplomacy, and I hope for peace around the world.”