During his first year at a small, North Carolina college, Esfandiar Lohrasbpour ’74 found himself in the school’s library leafing through a thick college information guide. He was seeking a college to transfer to, with one criteria steering his search: minimal tuition expenses.

“I had no money, so when I found a school with zero tuition, how could I ignore it?” he recalled. “I read more about Berea and discovered it also had solid academic programs, including a math major, which is what I really wanted to be.”

After transferring to Berea College, Esfandiar, who is from Tehran, Iran, noted the integration of all students as another of Berea’s commitments that amazed him.

“International students were about five to six percent of the population, but we did not feel one bit different,” he said. “What was so amazing was the people were so warm and helpful—from the administration to the professors to fellow students. We were treated like we were all in this together.”

Some of Esfandiar’s best memories revolve around the relationship he formed with Steve Boyce, a math professor, and his wife, Patty. As an energetic professor, Boyce threw himself into his lectures and was eager to offer help and feedback to his students, Esfandiar recalled. Boyce introduced Esfandiar to an entirely new flavor of applied math (operations research) after one of his sabbaticals. Not even part of the curriculum at the time, the subject resonated with Esfandiar and eventually became the focus of his post-graduate studies.

In addition, the Boyces’ home was always open to students, who came by to devour Patty’s delicious food and play softball.

These experiences fueled Esfandiar’s desire to support Berea College after graduation. As he settled into his career, Esfandiar began giving to Berea. Then in 2017, he celebrated his special connection to the Boyces, and their work at the College, with a gift to the new Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building. A classroom has been named in their honor, thanks to Esfandiar.

“I owe a ton to Berea because there were people long before me who gave to Berea—I enjoyed the benefits, and it made me who I am today,” Esfandiar said.

Esfandiar has a deep sense of commitment to today’s Bereans. He gives of his time to support students by serving on panels and participating in round-table discussions. Esfandiar encourages students to keep their minds open and to consider careers within and beyond their majors. He believes Berea College graduates are equipped to do whatever brings them satisfaction.


Abbie Darst '03 is an article writing, husband loving, kid raising, cheer coaching, God serving, busy woman. Whether it's been in sports, law enforcement or higher education, Abbie has dedicated her career to telling stories that speak of mission, passion and the best parts of human experience. She's been telling Berea's amazing stories since 2017.

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