Free to sing

By Linda Elissalde
Dr. Marjan Afrouzian’s life is the story of a remarkable journey made by a remarkable woman. From Iran to Canada to Galveston, Texas is a quite a trip. Dr. Afrouzian, Associate Professor of Pathology (tenured) at Division of Surgical Pathology and a Retired Consultant Nephorpathologist at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) shared her odyssey of discovery and adventure with me. She fell in love with the island when she interviewed for her position. Her affiliations and publications are munificent. Dr. Afrouzian was named 2021 Regent Outstanding Teacher of Texas for her dedication and novel teaching methods with medical students. She was a volunteer physician at St. Vincent’s house where she became involved in treatment of the uninsured population of Galveston. She helped organize a group to send medical supplies to Beirut, Lebanon after the 2020 devastating warehouse explosion.

Pictures from when Marjan was 18 in Iran

But, once upon a time, Dr. Afrouzian was just an enchanting, curly haired little girl. This youngest of three daughters loved to sing, and dance, and pretend she was performing before a large audience in her Tehran home. Marjan’s father, an Electrical Engineer and University Professor, and her elementary school teacher mother stressed the importance of study and education. At age14 she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Her eclectic learning experience began in a French Elementary School followed by high school at a French Convent. Dr. Afrouzian is proficient in Farsi, French and English. Along the way, she kept her love of singing and mastered the piano.

Dr. Afrouzian imitates the art in her home

In 1979 everything changed with the Iranian Revolution, and her love of singing was put aside for many years. However, music remained an important part of her life. She earned a Medical Degree at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 1987 and specialized in Pathology in 1994. After completing mandatory governmental services, Marjan moved to Alberta, Canada and was later joined by her son Soheil. Soheil eared his MA in Software. With 10 years experience in AI, he works to save rain forests in Brazil, Peru and Mexico. Marjan started her medical studies all over again, passed Canadian and American medical exams and again specialized in Pathology. Then Dr. Afrouzian added a sub-specialization in kidney pathology and transplantation. She also added a grand piano found in the middle of a Newfoundland shoe store. The owner discovered it in a bar where it had been desecrated by a cigarette burn. Marjan immediately bought the instrument with its scar. That piano travels with her wherever she goes. Now Galveston is her home – and the piano’s home.

Dr. Afrouzian in her Galveston home with “The Piano”

After treating me to delicious Iranian tea, baklava, dried fruits and sharing her life’s story with me, I finally persuaded her to play something on that special piano. She sat down, beautifully performed Chopin’s Valse (No.7) for the first time in 50 years. Along with her love of music, Grandma Marjan adores her enchanting, curly haired granddaughter Adriana Leila nicknamed ”Little Marjan”.

Daughter in law and Adriana aka “Little Marjan”

Galveston College Chorale member Margaret Canavan convinced Marjan to join the Chorale. She, with her lilting soprano voice, is a welcome addition. Recently this lady became a United States citizen, learned “The Star Spangled Banner”, and eagerly looks forward to being able to vote. Dr. Afrouzian shared, “I have had a long journey – looking at different things at different times. All the time, looking for different this and that. I did not know that I was really looking for me.” Now, Dr. Marjan Afrouzian has found a place were she is truly FREE TO SING!

Galveston College Spring Concert 2023 (Marjan in front row with turquoise shawl), and at the graduation of her medical students.

[LCE: Nov-21-2023]

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