1. What drew you to study the Near East?
Initially, I would have to say the United States' political and military involvement in the Middle East. Then, I would say visiting the region for the first time is what really sealed the deal. Some of the amazing things to see in terms of archaeological and cultural sites were big selling points for me wanting to learn more about the region and re-visit it over and over.
2. Where do you hope to be in the future and how do you hope to use your degree?
My goal has been to secure a comfortable academic job, but if that doesn't come, I am open to working in the private sector, think tanks, or even government. I have started a business in my spare time that draws on my regional experience and that has proven to be a second income and a fallback plan in case academia doesn't work out.
3. What is your topic of research and what, for you, is most exciting or interesting about it?
I'm writing a social history of the Egyptian Labor Corps. I think the most exciting thing for me about it is, despite that fact that it included almost 500,000 Egyptians serving all over the world, very few people have heard about this organization, much less appreciate its impact on the history of Egypt. I'm excited to bring this story to the light
4. Reflect on your experiences as an NES grad student. How has NES changed the way you think about the world?
Exposure to other scholars working on medieval, late antique, or ancient periods of history has given me an appreciation for some of the more materialistic aspects of history, and taught me to be more critical of the sources I read. Living and working in the culture of Cornell NES has helped me appreciate what I value in an organization in terms of how people are expected to treat each other. Also, NES helped me solidify my Arabic, which has had an important effect on the way I approach the world as a bilingual person.
5. Have you traveled or do you hope to travel anywhere in the Middle East? If so, where? How would you describe your experience abroad?
I have traveled through a number of countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. I would say most of these experiences were great, although I took some of these trips before events that have since transpired, which make some of these places impossible to visit. I also had some difficult experiences. But overall they have all enriched my life and I would not change having gone through them.
7. Who/what has been most influential for you during your time here in the Department of Near Eastern Studies?
Certainly my advisor Ziad Fahmy. He has been supportive and friendly throughout the entire experience.