Shahryar (Shawn) Oliai left his family in Iran and came to the United States when he was fourteen with a determination to get educated.
After some struggles to remain in college at another institution, Oliai arrived in West Michigan and discovered Grand Valley in 1985. At the age of 26 he enrolled as a non-traditional student and worked full-time while taking classes.
He selected Grand Valley for its convenience and affordability, but he said he returned to seek second, third and fourth degrees because of the extraordinary instruction and faculty support.
“Whether I agreed with my professors or not, it was the healthy conversation and dialogues that made my time and commitment at GVSU meaningful,” said Oliai.
A degree in finance (1989) helped him establish himself in the banking industry, but his interest in healthcare led him toward degrees in biomedical sciences (1995), health sciences (1995) and eventually to a master’s in public administration (2005).
Oliai is currently a senior consultant for Encore Health Resources, a healthcare technology consulting company based out of Houston, Texas. Traveling all over the United States, he assists hospitals with optimization, adoption and in evaluating the effectiveness of their electronic health records, aiming to ultimately improving the experience of patients.
Education is the cornerstone for Oliai and his wife Jacquelyn, ’95 – a Kirkhof College of Nursing master’s graduate. They have also instilled their love of knowledge in their two grown daughters.
“It brings you more independence, more options gives you more tools to work with in life. Liberal arts are just as important as the technical part,” he emphasized.
With a continuous desire to learn, Oliai is in the process of earning a master’s degree in medical informatics.
“You can lose everything in your life, but education always stays and adds value to your life,” he said.