Texas Tech University

Curiosity Fuels the Excellence of Kiana Firouzbakht

Curiosity. Built on Rawls.

Jacob Gordon | December 19, 2023

For cats, curiosity can often lead to their downfall. However, Kiana Firouzbakht, an energy commerce student at the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business , uses curiosity as a motivating factor in her life.

"Curiosity has helped me so much in life," said Firouzbakht. "I think it's a neat characteristic to have, and it's helped me grow as a person."

Curiosity first manifests itself within Firouzbakht as a simple question, but she quickly moves on to talking to people.

"If anybody I know has any experience I'm interested in, I'll talk to them first," she said. "Curiosity allows you to be willing to listen to other people instead of making everyone listen to you."

Curiosity has helped Firouzbakht discover leisure activities like cooking and pickleball, but it has made and continues to make its strongest impact on her as a student and soon-to-be professional.

The Curiosity of a First-Gen Student

"I basically grew up within the hospitality and restaurant field," she said. "I did things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, and waitressing. Pretty much, if you name it, I've done it. I've always been open to the business world, but this was just a different avenue for it."

While her parents could provide an introduction to the business world, Firouzbakht had little guidance when it came time to apply for college.

"Because my parents aren't from America, they didn't know much about the American education system," said Firouzbakht. "I think it made me want to learn more as opposed to someone who may not be first-gen."

Firouzbakht started small and let her curiosity drive her. Since she lived in Lubbock, she was fairly familiar with Texas Tech University, but still, she started with a basic question: why Texas Tech?

"When I was going through my college search, I spoke with someone through admissions," said Firouzbakht. "There were a lot of times when the person didn't know the answer to my question, but she knew someone who did."

Through her contact, Firouzbakht learned of key deadlines for applications and scholarships to help ease the financial burden of college.

"I just appreciated that she put so much additional time to help me out," said Firouzbakht. "It wasn't something other people in admissions at other universities did."

That personal connection not only helped Firouzbakht settle on Texas Tech, but it became something she often tried to replicate for other prospective students during her time as a Red Raider.

The Curiosity of a Rawls College Student

As a college student, Firouzbakht's curiosity led her to join several organizations and even helped her decide on her major.

Firouzbakht is the president of President's Select and a member of Rawls Ambassadors . The two organizations are similar in that students help represent either Texas Tech or the Rawls College during recruiting efforts by taking prospective students and their families on guided tours.

Firouzbakht first joined President's Select to fuel her curiosity about the university and help other students who were uncertain about attending Texas Tech.

As a Rawls Ambassador, Firouzbakht loves getting to know prospective business students. She uses her curiosity to help understand the interests of each student she meets.

"I love that I get to see what makes their eyes light up and what they enjoy here," said Firouzbakht. "There have been a couple of instances where, after coming and having a tour here, all of their indecisiveness has been answered, and they end up coming to the Rawls College. Then I see them the following year. It's a special relationship."

And while curiosity helps Firouzbakht to connect with prospective students, it has also helped her decide on her major.

Firouzbakht entered the Rawls College majoring in supply chain management , but made friends in her lower-level business classes with students interested in energy commerce. After several conversations fueled by her questions, a new path presented itself.

"I didn't know I would have an interest in energy commerce," said Firouzbakht. "You just don't know what's out there or what you can learn until you surround yourself with people."

The more Firouzbakht thought about the energy commerce program and the more questions she asked, the stronger the pull to the program became.

"Energy is important because so much of our life involves energy," said Firouzbakht. "In order to enjoy the luxuries of life, I've found it important to understand how it comes to be, and the energy industry is a big part of it."

Firouzbakht also loved how close-knit the energy commerce program was.

"We're a small program and all the students have a relationship with the professors," she said. "It's really special."

The Curiosity of a Professional

"As an intern, you're sort of the bottom of the food chain," said Firouzbakht, "so the fact that I was respected and valued for what I brought to the table made me want to learn, not just the project I was doing, but also the entire technicality of the team I was with and the field I was in."

Firouzbakht's curiosity motivated her to learn more about the company, not as a part-time intern who could leave in a month or two but as a full-fledged member of the organization.

With her curiosity and heightened involvement came a key takeaway.

"You might try to be a representation of just yourself, but at the end of the day, as you get closer to the company, you actually become a representation of that company or your team," she said. "I tried to do my best to make others proud and to be a positive representation of the Rawls."

While graduation may still be on the distant horizon for Firouzbakht, she is already seeing several ways her curiosity will guide her professionally.

For one, Firouzbakht sees her curiosity helping her to avoid burnout. By frequently asking questions about any given process or learning new solutions to problems, she finds her experiences always feel fresh.

But she also hopes to land a job that includes some traveling.

"I really want to travel for business reasons," she said. "There's a lot to learn with going international for whatever industry you're in."

Firouzbakht sees the energy industry as a great opportunity to meld her curiosity for travel with her curiosity for energy.

Curiosity. Built on Rawls.

Firouzbakht realized being overly curious can have its downfalls. It can be easy to take on too much or be too involved with too many organizations.

"You can get stretched out pretty thin," she said. "You can come to a point where you're not excelling at anything and just passing by."

However, Firouzbakht has learned the value of prioritizing her commitments to feed her curiosity while maintaining the highest level of excellence.

"Prioritize and find out what you enjoy the most," she said. "What will teach you the soft skills you want to develop? Prioritize and don't be afraid to give up some commitments."

For those looking to grow their own sense of curiosity, Firouzbakht brings everything back to people.

"Surround yourself with the people you're trying to be," she said. "You never know what's out there for you. Be willing to listen because you don't know what you might end up enjoying."