Scott Safadi was born in Damascus, Syria. When he was 2 years old, Scott Safadi and his family moved to the United States. Scott Safadi worked hard to achieve the American dream. Scott shares about his story with A Gathering of Experts.
A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for meeting with us today, Scott. I’d like to hear about your achievements firsthand. It sounds like a very interesting story.
Scott Safadi: It’s nice to meet you. Thanks to my father, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunities I’ve been granted.
A Gathering of Experts: I think you’re being modest. You have achieved much and I’m sure your father is very proud of you.
Scott Safadi: My father was tireless and resolute about my education. He didn’t make a lot of money, but he was determined that I attend good schools. I attended a private school until second grade and it gave me a good foundation upon which to build.
A Gathering of Experts: You didn’t attend private school after the second grade?
Scott Safadi: No. My father couldn’t afford the private school, so I had to change to a public school in the third grade.
A Gathering of Experts: How was that—the public school?
Scott Safadi: The private school had been so stimulating, and it provided me with such a good foundation, so I was bored in public school. I didn’t learn much in school for the next couple of years.
A Gathering of Experts: What happened to change that?
Scott Safadi: When I finally told my father about the situation, he decided to do whatever he could to get me into a better public school system.
A Gathering of Experts: Was he able to do that?
Scott Safadi: Yes. At the end of my fifth grade year, we relocated from San Jose to Los Gatos and rented a very modest apartment in a good school district.
A Gathering of Experts: It sounds as if your father is very resourceful. Did your mother have a problem with moving to a different city?
Scott Safadi: My parents were separated when I was very young and my father had custody of me. My grandmother came to the U.S. to help my dad raise me.
A Gathering of Experts: That must have been very difficult for her. Does your grandmother speak English?
Scott Safadi: Yes it was difficult, but she had nothing left for her back in Syria. All of her children were in the States. Neither she nor my parents spoke English so I suppose Arabic would be considered my first language. I am fluent in Arabic, but it’s certainly not as good as my English. By the way, I learned to speak English while watching Sesame Street.
A Gathering of Experts: Sesame Street? I suppose that means you were truly “Americanized” by the time you started kindergarten.
Scott Safadi: I believe I was—up to a point. One stumbling block was my first name. It is “Ghais.” Americans had a great deal of difficulty with that pronunciation. The summer before sixth grade I asked my dad if I could have a middle name to go by instead my unpronounceable first name. He said yes. I chose the name “Scott” and the name stuck. Now everyone knows me as Scott Safadi.
A Gathering of Experts: That’s a great story, Scott. Was that school a good fit for you?
Scott Safadi: Yes, things were better after that. My dad definitely made the right decision as far as my education was concerned. Once again, school was a challenge and I truly enjoyed it. My senior year in high school, I learned I had been admitted to Dartmouth College—my first choice school. I was thrilled! Then a problem came up and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend after all.
A Gathering of Experts: What happened?
Scott Safadi: My father suffered a major back injury and had to have several surgeries. After that, it was very difficult for him to work and he was forced into bankruptcy my senior year of high school. Living in an expensive town to put me in a good school helped me greatly, but it put my father in an impossible position.
A Gathering of Experts: You obviously made it to Dartmouth. How were you able to do that?
Scott Safadi: Because of our financial situation, Dartmouth stepped in to assist with my educational expenses. I thank my lucky stars every day. If not for my father’s determination and belief in me, along with Dartmouth’s assistance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever indebted to both of them.
A Gathering of Experts: You made it to Dartmouth—then what?
Scott Safadi: I graduated Dartmouth in 2003 and then returned to the Bay Area. I moved to Saratoga, Calif., and began working in property management. Three years later, I had my own property management company, Cal Bay Property Management. Now 10 years later, I have a beautiful wife and daughter and a thriving business. My dreams have come true.
Scott Safadi holds a CCRM (California Certified Resident Manager) designation and is the president of Cal Bay Property Management located in Palo Alto, Calif. Scott Safadi and his wife, Rachel, have a 1-year-old daughter named Sophia. Rachel, Sophia and Scott Safadi live in Saratoga, Calif.