“Everyone in Irvine … was genuinely kind and wanted the best for us,” says Nikki Aflatooni, right. She and her sister, Shaliz, plan to move back home after graduating to contribute to the “caring environment.”

Family values of service and achievement


The Aflatooni sisters – Nikki and Shaliz – remember two things they were encouraged to do as young children: read and help others.

Those lessons stuck with them.

They excelled at Beckman High with grade-point averages approaching 5.0. And, though still young, they are excelling in life.

Both are in medical school – Nikki at Harvard and Shaliz at the University of South Florida – and both intend to return to Irvine and spend their lives helping others.

Why? In a word: Mom.

“She immigrated here from Iran when she was young and didn’t speak English,” Nikki says. “She instilled in us the idea of working hard, helping others and following our passion.”

For the girls, it began in elementary school.

By fourth grade, Nikki and Shaliz were borrowing 50 books at a time – the maximum allowed – from the Katie Wheeler Library in Irvine.

Their mom, Parvin Aflatooni, also encouraged them at school with incentives, like a trip to Disneyland for improving their grades.

“My emphasis on education was instilled by my dad,” says Parvin, a civil engineer, who was born and raised in Tehran. “He would take us to the movies for what he called being a scholar or being a role model. I carried over the same concept with my girls.”

Each summer, Parvin bought study books for her daughters to read and signed them up for academic camps.

And she taught them something else: community service. She would take her daughters to hospital wards for children with cancer, bringing gifts and games.

“She’d encourage us to play with them and bring some joy to their day,” Nikki says.

And this was all before they entered high school.

Beckman graduates Nikki Aflatooni, now at Harvard Medical School, and her sister Shaliz, now at University of South Florida Medical School, relax with their parents.

A caring community

Irvine is the land of opportunity, Parvin says.

That’s why she and her husband, Kris, an industrial engineer, moved here from Los Angeles 24 years ago.

“We knew Irvine was the best place to raise a family – for the schools, the safety, the parks and everything,” Parvin says. “And it has been. Irvine is like a dream city to me.”

In high school, the sisters tutored and joined Irvine’s Youth Action Team, a city-run service organization. Nikki, 25, spent a week at UC Irvine’s MedAcademy – a summer program introducing Irvine high schoolers to medical careers.

“Everyone in Irvine – our friends, teachers, summer-camp staff – was genuinely kind and wanted the best for us,” Nikki says. “I saw the value of that caring environment and wanted a profession where I could do the same for others.”

At USC, she interned at Children’s Hospital L.A., where she watched doctors treat children with cleft lip and cleft palate. She decided to do the same.

Shaliz, 22, also attended USC, and also trained at Children’s Hospital L.A.

“I thought, as a physician I can combine my love for science and give back to those around me,” she says.

“We knew Irvine was the best place to raise a family – for the schools, the safety, the parks and everything. And it has been. Irvine is like a dream city to me.” – Parvin Aflatooni

A dream come true

Parvin attributes much of her daughters’ success to growing up in Irvine.

“They had the best teachers, best classes and school environment,” she says. “It prepared them for the next step in their education – it laid the foundation for everything.”

Nikki expects to graduate from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine this May. Shaliz expects to graduate from the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida in 2026.

After spending time with family for Thanksgiving, the sisters say they have much to be thankful for – especially their mom’s encouragement to pursue their dreams.

“She really took advantage of the opportunities available in Irvine,” Nikki says. “She always sent us to summer camps there. She encouraged us to be involved with the community. She took advantage of everything. We’re thankful for that.”

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