Undergrad Spotlight: Salma Shitia '18

December 5, 2017

Salma Shitia '18 is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She is a major in the Department of Near Eastern Studies with minors in Arabic, Jewish studies, and history.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?

I am most proud the relationships I have fostered within the Ithaca community through refugee resettlement, advocacy, and translation.

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

I partook in the Labor Law Clinic at Cornell Law researching the international airline catering industry, existing unions within that industry, and potential unionizing opportunities across different countries. I also served as a research assistant with Professor Deborah Starr cataloguing articles and ads from 1930-40s Egyptian journals. Lastly, I did an independent study under Professor Ziad Fahmy reevaluating Nasser's speeches based on the type of Arabic he used and which type was used to promote a specific ideology.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or Why?

I believe Professor Ross Brann influenced my Cornell education most. He has encouraged me to pursue my passion for social justice through law and academia by always connecting me with those before me who have gone through Near Eastern Studies and have done the same.

What drew you to Near Eastern Studies at Cornell?

It is an intimate department with amazing staff and faculty. Being in their presence provides me with intellectual stimulation, acceptance, and open-mindedness.

How has Near Eastern Studies shaped your experience at Cornell, your plans for the future, or the development of your intellectual interests?

Near Eastern Studies has given me knowledge of a region that is beautiful through language, culture, and history. It has taught me the impacts of imperialism, colonialism, and intervention on that beauty. I hope to use my understanding in a way that works to place an emphasis on that beauty through either academia or law. 

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?  

Near Eastern Studies is not just a department; it is a community. I highly recommend finding a mentor within your major to guide you whether that be a professor or an upperclassmen. 

Salma Shitia seated on a wall