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Volunteer Spotlight: Cyrus Etebari

Pre-med student encourages and chases dreams at the same time

More often than not, children are inspired to follow their dreams when adults encourage them. But how often do we see adults pursue their dream because of a child’s influence?

This is exactly what happened to St. Vincent de Paul Dream Center volunteer Cyrus Etebari -- a pre-med student who volunteers three to four days a week.  

At 21 years old and a recent University of Pennsylvania graduate, Cyrus has a clear vision of the career he would like to pursue. Though he didn’t know it at the time, this vision started when he was a teenager. Unlike most teens, Cyrus had the chance to witness a C-section surgery because his uncle is an OBGYN. He was greatly impacted by that first-hand experience.

Early on in college he began volunteering at a research lab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Again, he was given an opportunity most teens don’t have. He shadowed a neurosurgeon who took him into patient rooms post- and pre-operatively. This is where he met and spent time with children fighting brain cancer.

“Seeing the children’s faces behind the research and the medicine was a big part of my life and really influenced me. I knew then that I wanted to pursue medicine,” he said.

After graduating with a biology degree, Cyrus moved back to Arizona and began applying to different medical schools. In the meantime, he got busy working and volunteering in the medical field and more specifically, working with children. Cyrus works as a tutor, volunteers at SVdP and shadows at a family practice in Mesa that serves a low-income community.

“Serving has always been important to me and was ingrained in my mind while growing up. My dad is a dentist and always did pro-bono work.”


SVdP volunteer Cyrus Etebari tutors a child in the Dream Center.

In the Dream Center, Cyrus tutors children, but also makes the experience fun. He pushes them to do their homework and talks to them about their dreams and goals in life, but then they’ll take a break and he’ll teach the kids how to play chess.

“I want these kids to reach their full potential. I think that’s what the Dream Center is all about. They should always be encouraged and I’m interested in being a part of that.”

Here’s the exciting news – Cyrus recently found out he got accepted into medical school at the University of Arizona (in downtown Phoenix) and another university in Florida. He has yet to make a decision between the two, but we couldn’t be happier for him and we wish him the very best.

As a special gift and thanks for his help and encouragement, the kids in our Dream Center decided to share their own ‘Back To School’ tips for Cyrus. Watch the video above to see what they had to say!


Volunteer Cyrus Etebari poses for a photo in the Dream Center.