February 14, 2019 • By Christine Byrd
Reza Sabahi, FEMBA '09, didn't let his involvement with the UCI Paul Merage School of Business lapse when he graduated in 2009. For a decade, he has stayed involved. And this year, he was selected as the Merage School's 2019 Distinguished Alumni, to be recognized at the 49th Lauds & Laurels gala in May.
In the decade since graduation, Sabahi kept coming to campus. He joined the Dean’s Leadership Circle. He volunteered to coordinate alumni events. He helped current students build their networks. And a few years ago he started investing financially in the school, first as part of year-end tax planning and later because of the impact he felt his investments made.
“Giving is very, very personal, and donating money is a powerful and easy way to make an impact,” says Sabahi, who is now Managing Director at Wells Fargo Capital Finance. “The more the school has in the form of an endowment, the more resources are available to the faculty and students, which results in higher rankings and greater prestige for our school.”
Sabahi also encourages alumni to share their time and talent with the school by attending events and accepting phone calls from current students. He and his wife, Courtney Sabahi, FEMBA ’12, have both been inspired to give back because of their profound educational experience at the Merage School.
“Our feeling is that it was tremendous for us both personally and professionally,” Sabahi says. “UCI is one of the truly preeminent research institutions in the world, and we’re all a part of that family.”
In 2017, Sabahi played a key role in conceptualizing the Merage School’s inaugural Alumni Day, which built on the alumni reunion programs by bringing alumni from all class years to campus to reconnect classmates, meet other alumni and engage with some of their favorite faculty. For many, it was their first chance to see the new business school building.
Sabahi has suggested bringing another tradition to the school. Just in time for his 10-year reunion in spring 2019 and the third annual Alumni Day, he is challenging his fellow alumni to support a class gift for scholarships.
“Alumni giving makes a difference, whether it helps give a deserving student a scholarship or brings a great research professor to campus,” says Sabahi. “The more we give, the more our wonderful community gets recognized.”