October 14, 2016
Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif made a very positive impression on his professors in Colorado, where he got his graduate degrees.
Zarif earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in international studies at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies in 1984 and 1988, respectively.
Even then, Zarif’s professors say he stood out for his intellect, discipline and optimism.
“He was among the very best students that I’ve ever taught,” Tom Rowe, a professor at the graduate school, told the Denver Post. Rowe, who led the committee that oversaw Zarif’s dissertation, said, “He’s just a very nice person.”
Zarif completed his undergraduate education at San Francisco State University. He was in Denver during the Iran-Iraq War and that conflict deepened his interest in international law and diplomacy, Rowe said.
Zarif also was filled with hope.
Karen Feste, a professor at the school who taught Zarif in two classes, remembered an exchange Zarif once had with another student. Zarif and the other student were debating and could not reach agreement.
“I said, ‘Well, does that mean paralysis and there’s nowhere to go?’” Feste recalled. Zarif’s response, Feste said, was: “There’s always hope. You have to have hope.”
Ved Nanda, who was on his dissertation committee, said, “I thought he’d play an important part in his country’s life.”