Nearly 30 years after emigrating to the United States from Iran, Narges “Nikki” Taheri, ’98, was drawn to give back to her alma mater. In 2019, the owner of FASTSIGNS on Broadway in Bayonne, N.J. created the Narges Taheri '98 Endowed Scholarship, with the assistance of the NJCU Foundation. The $5,000 annual scholarship benefits students in a creative field, particularly those majoring in art.
“I am so grateful, being at this place in my life,” said Taheri. “Starting this scholarship is in alignment with my purpose of being a person of service. As an alumnus, sharing my triumphs, my challenges and hardships as well as my experiences can help others emulate my successes while helping them avoid pitfalls.”
Taheri emigrated from Iran in May, 1993 in what she describes as a liberating moment in her life. She was 25 years old and both the language and culture was overwhelming. Literature and art became her refuge as she adjusted to life in America, its customs and the English language. Reading and drawing had been a comfort for her since her youth and through art, she discovered NJCU.
Taheri enrolled at NJCU in Spring, 1994 when it was still known as Jersey City State College, and graduated in 1998 with a B.A. in General Communications and Technology.
Her determination to be an artist and her love of communicating through design became a career. She credits the encouraging, helpful faculty and staff at NJCU for helping her cross the finish line to graduation.
“They saw something in me I knew had – the determination to succeed and to make my way forward as an immigrant woman with a passion for art. Taking classes in art and in the general courses in Arts & Sciences gave me a great amount of knowledge. I became a different person with all of these opportunities in front of me and the world began to make more sense. I know if I studied hard and applied myself, all of these opportunities would be open to me.”
In her senior year, Taheri interned with a sign maker, who taught her how to apply what she had learned while studying art and her love for textiles, into her work.
“He ultimately inspired me to open my own sign company 20 years ago. To this day I use the skills I learned at NJCU in my business. I know how hard it is to experience financial hardship and struggle while attending college, as I did. The school provides hope and inspiration, guidance and encouragement, and incredible resources every step of the way to all students who come through its doors.”
In 2000 she began a journey as a sole proprietor, opening her first sign shop in Bayonne. After 18 years as a small business owner in the sign industry, she converted her business to a FASTSIGNS franchise. The valuable resources and support from FASTSIGNS family has enabled her to succeed and expand her business as a franchisee.”
“I am incredibly happy to have become reconnected with NJCU and work with the wonderful faculty and associations, as a pillar in our community.”
“I would like to share and generate my experience in visual communications with art students, especially those with a creative approach and outlet, such as the graphic design field,” said Taheri about her goals for the scholarship. “I want to help them to facilitate their creativity and talent in the sign industry and learn how a career with a visual ideas company can be fulfilling and rewarding.”
Ira Thor, Senior Director of University Communications and Media Relations | firstname.lastname@example.org | 201-200-3301