'My education was fun'
Cody’s commitment began when she was a young child. One of five siblings — three brothers, who all became engineers, and one sister, a dentist — she has vivid memories of her mother underlining the importance of higher education.
“My mother was a housewife who never finished high school. She married very young, and she felt it was extremely important for me and my sister to be in charge of our own destiny,” Cody recalls. “My mother said, ‘The only way that you can survive in this society as a woman is with education.’”
After completing a bachelor’s in engineering from Aryamehr University of Technology (now Sharif University of Technology) in Tehran, Cody left the country at the end of the Iranian Revolution. She arrived in Montreal in 1979 with $2,000 in her pocket and a plan to get a master’s degree. “At the time, tuition in Canada was $4,000,” says Cody. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Where was I going to get the money? But higher education was my goal.”
She was accepted at another university. However, her brother, Mahmoud Bigtashi, BEng 79, had recently graduated from Concordia. He convinced her to meet with one of his engineering mentors, Cedric Marsh.
“I met with Professor Marsh two days after arriving in Canada,” Cody remembers. “We spoke for an hour, and at the end he said, ‘I really want you to join Concordia. Why would you go any other place?’ He gave me financial support immediately and I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t. He changed my life, and so did Concordia.”
Cody also worked as a teaching assistant while completing her master’s degree and taught in the faculty while pursuing her PhD. “Concordia made my arrival in Canada easy and my education fun — and I don’t think I would have had that experience elsewhere,” she says. “This university gave me the credentials to establish my career and the experience and the confidence that I needed to succeed.”