CASA Fellows

Recently Admitted Fellows
For those preparing to go abroad for the program in Cairo or Amman, we have posted frequently asked questions to the “Admitted” menu option. Please see this and the other menu items on the left related to preparing to live and study in Cairo and Amman.

CASA Fellows 2019-2020
We have another wonderful group of Fellows for the 2019-2020 year in both Amman and Cairo. You are welcome to review their bios below.

CASA Fellows ~ Cairo 19-20:

Aaron Boxerman is a recent graduate of Northwestern University in history and African studies. Aaron has spent significant time in East Jerusalem and Jordan, where he interned for different publications and honed his Arabic. While at Northwestern, Aaron was awarded multiple grants to examine archives in Amman and Cape Town, South Africa. After CASA, he hopes to use his language skills to work as a journalist.

Josh Calvo is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University in the Department of Comparative Literature, focusing on modernist fiction in Hebrew and Arabic. He completed a bachelor’s degree in written arts and Middle Eastern studies at Bard College in May 2015.  Josh has studied Arabic at the American University in Beirut and the Mohammed V University in Rabat. Josh is interested in literary translation and original creative writing, and he is currently translating the early novels of Kurdish Syrian novelist and experimentalist Salim Barakat.

Phoebe Carter is a Ph.D. student in comparative literature at Harvard University. She received her B.A. from Kenyon College in modern languages and literatures. Previously, Phoebe studied Arabic and taught middle school English in Amman, Jordan. Her research interests include modern Arabic literature, literary circulation between Latin America and the Middle East, and translation studies.

Sarah Elmongy graduated from Emory University in 2019 with a B.A. in anthropology and Arabic studies. Her studies in anthropology have concentrated on cultural and applied anthropology, with a focus on her professional interests of humanitarian and development work. Sarah has a native background in Egyptian Arabic and has studied Modern Standard Arabic at Emory University for three years, and in Rabat, Morocco, for one semester. She hopes to combine her fields of study in her future career in the NGO and non-profit sector.

Indran Fernando graduated from Truman State University with a B.A. in anthropology. He has studied Arabic at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco and at the Qasid Institute in Jordan. Prior to CASA, Indran worked at the International Institute of St. Louis, where he helped refugees access health care and adjust to life in the US. After CASA, Indran is interested in pursuing a master’s degree in public health and in working as an interpreter in mental health settings.

Rebekah Grafton graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a B.A. in linguistics and French, and a minor in Arabic. She spent the 2017-2018 academic year studying in Strasbourg, France, and Rabat, Morocco. In the future, Rebekah hopes to work in translation or refugee resettlement. 

Noa Gur-Arie recently graduated from Barnard College, where she majored in Russian studies and Middle Eastern studies. Her thesis research focused on Cold War Soviet Islamic cultural diplomacy in the Arab world. Noa has studied in Russia and Morocco with scholarships from the US Department of State, and she has interned at PEN America and Human Rights Watch.

Ethan Hartzell received his B.S. in cognitive and brain sciences with a minor in computer science from Tufts University in 2018, where he completed a senior thesis on lexical variation in a village sign language of Turkey. Prior to CASA, Ethan researched ASL using computational methods at Boston University. Ethan has also taught Arabic to high schoolers at the Arabic Summer Academy in Boston. He previously spent a semester abroad in Cairo and is excited to return with CASA. After CASA, Ethan hopes to pursue a graduate degree that combines his varied research interests.

Allison Holle is a graduate student at the University of Oxford, where she is reading for a Master of Philosophy degree in modern Middle Eastern studies. She completed her undergraduate degree in Arabic studies at Williams College in 2017. Her current research focuses on architectural history and on contestations over the preservation and restoration of Islamic cultural heritage under colonial occupation. Allison has studied Arabic in Cairo twice previously, and she is excited to return to Cairo with CASA.

Eva Kahan graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in international relations and history, concentrating in the Middle East. She spent a year studying, volunteering, and researching demography and veterans’ communities in Jordan. After CASA, Eva is excited to pursue public service and graduate study in security sector reform, with a focus on improving partnerships between the US government and Arab states.

Rosa Klein-Baer is a Ph.D. student at New York University’s joint program in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. She received a master’s degree from the department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University in 2016 and completed a bachelor’s degree in sociocultural anthropology at University of California, Davis, in 2013. Her research interests include the urban and environmental histories of early twentieth-century colonial Egypt. 

Cecilia Kuehnel is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where she studies Arabic pedagogy. Her academic interests include second language acquisition, Arabic socio-linguistics, and the intricacies of the triliteral root system. Cecilia has received the NSLI-Y, Boren, and Critical Language Scholarships. After her master’s program, she will pursue a doctorate in Arabic applied linguistics. 

Juan Nunez Ledesma is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed a degree in political science and a minor in Arabic. He has studied Arabic in Oman, Jordan, and Morocco. His interests include Arabic pedagogy, Middle East politics, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Upon completing CASA, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Middle East studies.

Patrick McVee graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in economics and a minor in Arabic. He has researched topics related to the economics of development and water infrastructure.  Patrick is also interested in exploring the complex relationships between the US and Arab countries through art and intercultural exchange.

AJ Naddaff graduated from Davidson College in 2019 with a B.A. in Arab studies and political science. He previously studied Arabic at the University of Jordan through Middlebury Language School and has also worked for Community Media Network in Jordan. AJ recently received recognition from the Overseas Press Club Foundation for his journalistic work, and he has been awarded a fellowship to spend winter break with the Associated Press in Beirut. He is interested in Islamic philosophy, philology, translation, exile, and migration in Arabic and French-speaking communities. After CASA, AJ hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studies. 

Dylan Okabe-Jawdat graduated from Columbia University in 2017 with a degree in history and political science. After completing his degree, Dylan completed a service fellowship through Princeton University, during which he taught English at a university in northern Thailand. He has worked and studied in Tunisia, Jordan, and Morocco through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth and the Critical Language Scholarship.

Ashleigh Pearce graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2019. Her research interests include the transnational intellectual history of the modern Middle East and North Africa, as well as Arabic language ideology. She is excited to return to Egypt with CASA before pursuing a Ph.D. in History.

Nicolas Reeves graduated from the George Washington University in 2019 with a B.A. in international affairs and economics, and with a minor in Arabic. During his final year at GW, he completed a thesis on tribe-state relations in Jordan.  By participating in CASA, Nicolas hopes to expand his cultural and linguistic horizons in Arabic by learning the Egyptian dialect, deepening his knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic, and developing his understanding of Egyptian culture and politics.

Richard Solomon completed his B.S. and a B.A. at Indiana University in 2018, where he studied international studies, political science, and philosophy. He completed the Arabic Flagship program in Meknes, Morocco, as a Boren Fellow in 2019.  Richard has studied Arabic at Bethlehem University and Hebrew University, and with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth in Morocco. His research interests include bargaining theory, institutional analysis, and literature. After CASA, Richard plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science or Middle Eastern studies.

Ciara Taylor graduated from the University of Southern California in 2019 with a B.A. in Middle East studies. She began studying Arabic in high school and has participated in immersion programs in Qatar and Jordan. After CASA, Ciara hopes to pursue a law degree and to work on humanitarian issues related to refugee and immigration challenges.


CASA Fellows ~ Amman 19-20

Laura Abbott holds an M.A in East Asian studies from Stanford University and an M.A. in strategic studies (Middle East curriculum) from the Naval Postgraduate School. She has studied Arabic in the U.S., Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. Her academic interests include counter-terrorism, defense institution building, women’s empowerment, and the refugee crisis. After CASA, she will work in the U.S. Embassy in Jordan as a Security Cooperation Officer.

Bilal Abdelhady graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Arabic and a master’s degree in Near Eastern languages and cultures (Arabic) from the University of California - Los Angeles. His interests include Arabic language, Islamic studies, culture, society, law, and social change. Bilal hopes to contribute to the betterment of those fields in the near future. 

Michael Battalia received his M.S. in Foreign Service and M.A. in History from Georgetown University, where he was a FLAS Fellow, and a bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics.  He previously spent seven years living in the Middle East as a management consultant with Deloitte.  Michael is particularly interested in early twentieth-century Arabic poetry, literature, and political philosophy.  After CASA, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Middle East history.

Tate Crossley graduated from Brigham Young University in 2018 with a B.A. in Arabic and linguistics. After graduation, Tate interned for one year at LDS Charities in northern Jordan. His research interests are sociolinguistics and dialectology.

Kendall Dorland is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she majored in Arabic and anthropology, focusing on modern Arabic literature. Currently, she works on issues of urban governance and spatial injustice in Cairo and across the Middle East and North Africa.

Emily Dovel is a Ph.D. student in Islamic studies at University of California – Los Angeles.  She graduated from University of Portland with a degree in history. After completing her undergraduate degree, Emily taught English and studied Arabic in Morocco for one and a half years. She is excited to continue working on her Arabic language skills in Amman.

Neal Feldman recently completed a master's degree in Middle Eastern & North African studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include the ethnography of religiosity among Palestinians and Israeli Jews in Jerusalem, as well as the effects of political tourism on the Israeli occupation.

Ghayde Ghraowi is a doctoral student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University. He studies Arabic literary history between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Ghayde holds an M.A. in Near Eastern studies from New York University and a B.A. in English literature and Arabic from the University of Texas at Austin.

Minji Kim is a student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Republic of Korea, where she studies Arabic and English for international conferences and communication. She is interested in pursuing graduate studies in teaching Arabic as a foreign language and applied linguistics. Her research interests include topics in language pedagogy, contrastive linguistics, translation, and sociocultural backgrounds in languages.

Shivonne Logan graduated from Stanford University in 2019 with a B.A. in international relations, with interdisciplinary honors through the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and a minor in Middle Eastern languages, literature, and culture. She has previously studied, worked, and lived in Morocco, Berlin, and Doha, and she is interested in women’s and refugee issues in the MENA and beyond. After CASA, Shivonne hopes to work in women’s empowerment and international development in the MENA region.

Alyssa Marshall recently graduated from New York University with a double major in international relations and Middle Eastern & Islamic studies. Her academic interests include political economy and conflict mediation, specifically in the Gulf region, and she is interested in pursuing Arabic in translation. Alyssa has lived and studied in the UAE, Israel, and Palestine.

Nafisatou Mounkaila completed a bachelor’s degree in Arab world history and Arabic at New York University in Abu Dhabi. Her research interests include the creation of “race” and the concept of blackness in the Arab world, as well as Quranic interpretation and translation. After CASA, Nafisatou hopes to begin a doctoral program in which she utilizes her Arabic language skills.

Sam Ricciardi graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 with a B.A. in political economy. He worked at Bain & Company Middle East Network for two years before beginning the CASA program. After CASA, he will pursue an M.A. in international affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS. 

Nicholas Shafer graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. with High Honors in anthropology and Arabic language and literature, and with minors in public policy and education. He recently served with the US Department of State in Algiers, Algeria, and worked as a trip leader for the Ibrahim Foundation. Nicholas also worked at the Smithsonian Institution in Summer 2019. He intends to pursue a career in diplomacy and conflict resolution, with a focus on educational, scientific, and cultural exchange. Nicholas is a Boren Scholar and a winner of the UC Berkeley Leadership Award.

Sage Smiley recently graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in journalism and Arabic, and a minor in chemistry. She is interested in Arabic cinema and literature, podcasting, learning about social issues in the Arab world, and open-source investigations. Sage hopes to work as a foreign correspondent in her future career.

Stephanie Stewart graduated from the University of Georgia in 2019 with degrees in economics, women's studies, and international affairs, and with a minor in Arabic. Her research focuses on gender and conflict, and she hopes to explore how post-conflict economic (re)development can promote gender equity. Stephanie has studied Arabic in Oman as a Boren Scholar and at Middlebury Language Schools as a Davis Fellow for Peace.

Naomi L. Whitney-Hirschmann graduated from Wellesley College in May 2019 with a major in international relations-history and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She is interested in intercultural communication, particularly as it relates to migration, development, and relations between the Middle East and Europe. Naomi previously studied Arabic in Amman with the Middlebury School in Jordan.

Gabriel Young is a Ph.D. student in the joint History and Middle Eastern Studies program at New York University. His primary research interests are the history of development, urban political ecology, and critical geographies of infrastructure in the modern Middle East. While Gabriel has focused on the social history of development in postcolonial Egypt in past research projects, his prospective dissertation examines the relationship between urbanization, state formation, and transnational political economy in the twentieth-century Persian Gulf.

Ryan Zohar recently graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern, South Asian & African studies and from Sciences Po Paris with a B.A. in political science. He has also studied Arabic in Egypt and Oman on FLAS Fellowships. After CASA, he will begin a Ph.D. program in anthropology at the University of Michigan.