Professor Becomes Advocate, Inspiration to His Students

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Dr. Emad Rahim brings more to the classroom than rich knowledge about his subject matter.
The Morrisville State College professor adds elements students can relate to along with anecdotes from his personal life to teach them they can accomplish anything.

That inspiration has been a motivating factor in the classroom and in his life—now it's branching out even farther.

Rahim, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and small business management, is a motivating force behind a new Morrisville State College program, Venture Connects, which is helping adult students find creative ways to return to the classroom to further their education.

Through Morrisville Venture Connects, students who have already earned an associate degree in multiple disciplines can go back to school to earn a bachelor of business administration degree in entrepreneurship and small business management from Morrisville State College, taking courses that fit into their daily schedules.

The successful equation behind the program is a hybrid format of online and flexible weekend classes that will be taught at two locations— the Syracuse Technology Garden, in downtown Syracuse, and at Cayuga Community College. Students also engage in workshops, internships and externships through the program. Future plans are to expand Morrisville Venture Connects to other locations too.

Rahim, a teacher in the Venture Connects program, knows firsthand it isn't easy adding college to life's juggles. His journey to the classroom was circuitous—much like his life.

A native of Cambodia, Rahim is a survivor of the Killing Fields, sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979.

An estimated two million people were killed, starved or worked to death, among them; his father and brother and aunts and uncles, leaving him the only lineage on his father's side.

Born in a concentration camp, Rahim escaped to Thailand with his mother when he was four, eventually making his way to Brooklyn then Syracuse through a sponsorship by Catholic Charities.

Since he arrived in America, life has been about turning trials into opportunities. A poor student who struggled through high school, Rahim took college classes while working two jobs and supporting a family, eventually earning his doctorate degree.

Philanthropic acts and people who encouraged him along the way empowered him to help others. Teaching is just one of the many ways he has reached out.

“I wanted to bring my passion into the classroom, to inspire my students and create an environment that engages them,” he said.

That spirit is evident outside of the classroom too.

Rahim is also principal consultant with Global i365, formerly Innovative Development Inc., a consulting group that provides business services specializing in the areas of diversity management, project management, technology, programming, nonprofit development and marketing.

He's also been an advocate for local human service agencies and has worked with at-risk families and children and adults with disabilities.

A firm believer in utilizing outside resources, Rahim has relied on many to get to where he is today.

“I could not have accomplished all I have in my life without the resources and support that surrounded me,” he said. “When you hit a roadblock, look for an alternate route to get to your destination.”

He hopes for some, that path is Venture Connects, which offers services and support, and coaching and mentoring that will open doors for students too.

Through classroom and hands-on experience, students gain technical and business expertise and learn to apply entrepreneurial skills to start their own business ventures.

Students who take the program through the Syracuse Technology Garden will learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and interact with start-up companies in a real business environment.

“Because of this centralized location and through our partnerships and networks, students will have an enormous pool of resources and experts to help bring their business idea to fruition,” Rahim said.

Students who complete the Venture Connects program will leave with more than a bachelor degree in entrepreneurship and small business management under their belts.

“They'll also have a completed business plan and the opportunity to apply for seed money to start or expand their business,” Rahim said.

In addition to teaching, Rahim speaks openly at high schools, universities, community organizations, conferences, workshops and public forums about his life, diversity, immigration and cultural awareness.

Part of Rahim's life was made into a play, “Tales From The Salt City,” written and directed by Tony Award Nominee and USA Playwrights Award Recipient, Ping Chong. The Syracuse Stage Theatre production shares the dramatic migration stories of Rahim and six other local residents from Syracuse, N.Y.

Venture Connects is made possible through a grant from the Kauffman Foundation.

For more information about Venture Connects, call 315-684-6225, e-mail or visit