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Carmel Valley associate professor recognized for work at National University

Dr. Maryam Davodi-Far with National University Interim Provost Dr. Gangaram Singh, left, and National University Chancellor and President Dr. Michael Cunningham, right. Courtesy photo
Dr. Maryam Davodi-Far with National University Interim Provost Dr. Gangaram Singh, left, and National University Chancellor and President Dr. Michael Cunningham, right. Courtesy photo

Education has always played an important part in Dr. Maryam Davodi-Far’s life.

From earning multiple degrees as a student to teaching others as an instructor, it comes as no surprise to many of her colleagues that the Carmel Valley resident recently received two awards for her commitment to education at National University, where she has worked for 13 years.

“It’s great to be recognized,” Davodi-Far said. “It helps validate that I’m doing something right.”

Born in Iran, Davodi-Far’s family relocated to Northern California when she was a child. She moved to San Diego in 1985 and has lived in Carmel Valley since 2000.

At just 16 years old, Davodi-Far started college, studying anthropology at UC San Diego. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she went on to receive her master’s in health care administration from National University and doctorate degree in public administration at the University of La Verne.

Now 42, Davodi-Far started her career in health care and medicine, having previously served as community relations director of Rady Children’s Hospital while she was a doctoral student, and later as executive director of the San Diego American Indian Health Center. In 2002, she joined National University in La Jolla as adjunct faculty for the school’s bachelor of public administration and master of public administration programs.

Davodi-Far became a full-time associate professor and lead faculty member six years later. She teaches all courses in both programs, including foundations courses, grant writing, program evaluation and urban planning.

“What I love about National University is that many of our students are working and they’re still taking the time to invest in themselves,” said Davodi-Far, who was inspired by her father, a retired professor, to pursue education. “Education can open doors and enhance a person’s quality of life.”

Like her students, Davodi-Far continues to enhance her life through education. She earned a second master’s in counseling psychology from National University this year, and is on track to earn her third master’s in human behavior from the school next year.

“Learning is one of my hobbies,” she said. “I do it because I enjoy learning.”

Since joining National University, Davodi-Far has also earned a diploma in cuisine commis culinary from San Diego Culinary Institute. In 2004, she founded a nonprofit called Cancer Coping Center. She also served as director of National University’s Center for Cultural and Ethnic Studies from 2011 to 2013.

She has earned multiple certificates and has been commemorated for her work and community involvement from National University and outside organizations, including a Women Who Move the City Award from San Diego Magazine, a 10 News Leadership Award and a 40 Under 40 Award from San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, among others.

Adding to her accomplishments, Davodi-Far recently received two awards from National University during an awards ceremony in September at the San Diego Marriott in La Jolla.

For the third time, Davodi-Far received the President’s Professoriate Award, an award she also received in 2011 and 2014. The award is given annually to faculty members who go above and beyond the call of duty when working with students and alumni, faculty and staff, or the school and outside community.

“I was really proud of myself,” said Davodi-Far, who was one of eight faculty members who received the award. National University has about 275 full-time faculty members.

At the same time, Davodi-Far was also honored with the President’s Commission on Excellence in Online Teaching, which she said came as a surprise. National University Chancellor and President Dr. Michael Cunningham and Interim Provost Dr. Gangaram Singh presented her with the award for her work on an online foundations course for public administration graduate students.

“Not only does it give you a foundation of the field of public administration, the theories are actually applicable to today,” she explained. “It’s real time. You can bring what you learn into the work that you’re doing.”

When not working at National University, Davodi-Far spends much of her time with her husband, David Wu, and their 5- and 9-year-old sons, Taj and Jet. She is also a dedicated volunteer at Rady Children’s Hospital and Camp Kesem at UCSD.