Mekarem Eljamal earned her B.A. in both International Studies and Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan in 2016. Following graduation, she spent time in Haifa, where she worked at a research institution focused on Palestinian citizens of Israel. Since returning to the United States, she has worked with the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies as a program assistant. Currently, she works with the Arab Studies Institute as the editor of both Al-Diwan, the blog arm of Tadween Publishing, and the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative. Her research interests center upon Palestinian citizens of Israel, specifically the processes and role of placemaking on notions of identity, citizenship, belonging, and non-belonging.
Meghan Hough is in both the Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and Arabic Studies masters programs. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 with a B.A. in International Studies and Near East Studies, and a minor in Judaic Studies. Her research interests include theoretical linguistics, pre-modern Islam, and postcolonialism in the Middle East and Africa. As an undergraduate, she was the social media and communications intern for the Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum—a unique initiative providing students at Big Ten universities a robust curriculum specializing in Islamic Studies.
Ahmed Mitiche graduated in 2016 from the University of Indianapolis with a bachelor of arts in Sociology and Philosophy. As an undergraduate, he was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant which enabled him to travel to Morocco and conduct field work with activists from two contemporary social movements: the 20th February Movement and Hirak al-Rif. Ahmed is also an activist and community organizer, and a founder of an Indiana non-profit, FOCUS Initiatives, that is working to develop transitional housing and re-entry programming for formerly incarcerated persons in the state. Additionally, he is organizing against Countering Violent Extremism funding in Indianapolis as part of the American Friends Service Committee's Communities Against Islamophobia project.
Ali Al Momar graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a B.A. in Public Policy. His primary area of interest is comparative politics in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in relation to electoral dynamics, democratic transitions, and identity politics. Ali previously worked at Freedom House, a Washington, D.C.–based democracy watchdog, where he assisted in managing a multi-million-dollar portfolio of human rights and democracy programs focusing on issues ranging from gender equality to justice-sector reform. He also contributed to Freedom House’s advocacy efforts, and his research was utilized in analyses and various press releases published on the organization’s website.
Asma Noray graduated from Swarthmore College in 2017 with a B.A. in both Political Science and Arabic. She is originally from Nairobi, Kenya, and grew up in Seattle, Washington. Asma has studied Arabic in Morocco, Oman, Iraq, and Jordan, and has worked extensively with refugee populations from these regions. Her research interests involve understanding refugee and migration crises in the Middle East through the lens of fiction and personal narratives. Over the past year, she has served as an AmeriCorps member at World Relief Seattle, where she worked to expand services for refugee youth in the area. In addition, Asma is also passionate about advocacy and civic engagement in the Muslim American community.
Sarah Gerges earned a BA in Linguistics with minors in French and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Kansas in 2015. As an undergraduate, she also began studying Turkish, and spent two summers in Izmir with a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State and a program administered by the University of Arizona. In 2017, Sarah received a Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Turkey, but the program was canceled in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt. She has recently returned from Istanbul at Bogazici University sponsored by the American Research Institute in Turkey.
Samiah Haque is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers' Program in Poetry in 2015 at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the intersections of Islamic cosmology with pilgrimage studies, psychoanalysis, and architectural theory. She works at the U-M Medical School to implement a revision of the curriculum, and is at work on her first novel.
Derek Lief is pursuing a dual master’s degree in Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Public Policy. After his undergraduate career, Derek worked for four years at FTI Consulting in San Francisco. At the same time, he started taking classes in math, Arabic, and Hebrew. He has lived in Israel and Jordan for the last four years, where he served the Peace Corps and worked with NGOs.
Bryon Maxey is pursuing an MA in Middle Eastern and North African Studies focusing on the history of Islamic education bridging Africa and the Americas. He completed a BA in History, African Studies and a minor in Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Bryon finds inspiration in family and community accounts of resilience, erudition, and triumph; his professional and academic career includes multifaceted experiences as a pre-college educator, multifaith community organizer, and project facilitator of digital learning. At U-M, Bryon helped launch initiatives including: Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum; Islamic Knowledge, Histories & Languages, Arts & Sciences; Youth Civil Rights Academy; and the Teach-Out Series.
Seif Saqallah graduated from U-M with undergraduate majors in AAPTIS, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Judaic Studies, and International Studies, as well as a minor in Religion and Law, Justice, and Social Change. Seif was born in Jordan and immigrated to the United States at two years old. Two of his favorite campus organizations are the Muslim Students’ Association and MuJew (Muslims and Jews), an interfaith intercultural group which strives to create a bridge of empathy and understanding between two communities that are commonly misunderstood. Seif is pursuing the dual JD/MA program with the U-M Law School and CMENAS where he hopes to study law and continue his interests in Arabic and Hebrew. Combining Arabic and Hebrew: Shalom 'alaykhem, wa rahmat Allahi wa barakatuh. Peace be with you, and the mercy and blessings of God.
Leah Squires is pursuing a dual master’s degree in Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Public Policy. Her years of nonprofit experience with youth, immigrants and refugees, and linguists, as well as her Peace Corps service in Morocco, inspire her graduate coursework. A researcher writer, her curiosity lends itself to disparate topics, linked by threads of social policy and justice, geography, and intercultural communication. Leah recently completed an internship with Direct Relief where she used data-driven storytelling to investigate the intersection between environmental hazards and humanitarian aid in the Rohingya refugee crisis. She will return to Morocco in 2019 and looks forward to upcoming intellectual explorations of the Maghrib. She is proficient in Moroccan Arabic and is studying Modern Standard Arabic and French to better inform her studies.
Justin Stucki graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a BA in International Studies and Arabic Studies. Combined, he has spent several years studying the Arabic language and the socio-political and religious history of the Middle East and North Africa. His current research interests are broadly in the dialectology of Arabic, and in examining how different cultural, linguistic, religious, and political identities in the Middle East interact.