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Alumni Updates

By last name.

NELC Graduate


Anitra Beruti
Seattle, WA
B.A., 2005


Submission date: 6/01/2009 4:26 PM
I've been working on political campaigns in WA State.

Katherine Burge
Paris, France
B.A., 2009


Submission date: 11/20/2010 12:29 PM
Working on a Master's degree in "Antiquité méditerranéenne et proche-orientale" at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.

Morgan Cassell
B.A., 2011

Submission date: 4/07/2013 7:35 PM
On March 13, 2013, Morgan Cassell, a Seattle native and University of Washington alumna, was awarded a 2013 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship following a highly competitive nationwide contest. The Rangel Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University, supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. The Director of the Rangel Program, Patricia Scroggs, stated, “We are thrilled to have Morgan as part of the program. Morgan has already demonstrated impressive academic achievements in her studies at the University of Washington, as well as a strong commitment to public service and positive global engagement in her professional endeavors. I have no doubt that she will excel in graduate school and make important contributions to promoting global peace and prosperity as a U.S. diplomat.” Morgan Cassell, who was born in Seattle, is the daughter of Beth Harper and Richard Cassell. As a sophomore in Garfield high school and a participant in the One World Now program, Morgan had her first international experience in Morocco. It was there that she discovered her love for Middle Eastern culture. She went on to study at the University of Washington, earning degrees in both Political Science and Near Eastern Studies. Her love for the Middle East guided her to study abroad in Turkey and Jordan. After graduation, Morgan returned to Turkey to intern at the intercultural Exchange Programs Foundation. Morgan is currently in Indonesia, teaching English with the Fulbright Program. Morgan will continue to pursue her passion for international clan, race, and gender issues by studying conflict resolution, specifically within the Islamic civilizations, in graduate school this fall. A talented linguist, she is proficient in Arabic, Turkish, and Spanish.

The Rangel Fellowship will provide Morgan with approximately $90,000 in benefits over a two year period to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs. As part of the Rangel Program, Morgan will work this summer for a Member of Congress on issues regarding foreign affairs. In the summer of 2014, the U.S. Department of State will send her overseas to work in a U.S. Embassy to get hands-on experience with U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon graduation, she will become a U.S. diplomat, embarking on one of the most challenging and rewarding careers of service to his country.

Jessica Claycomb
Sana'a, Yemen
B.A., 2009


Submission date: 7/18/2009 9:46 AM
Working with AMIDEAST in Sana'a, Yemen, managing the U.S. Department of State Access Microscholarship Program for non-elite Yemeni students.


Hosoglu Dogan
Istanbul, Turkey
M.A., 2004


Submission date: 7/17/2008 4:42 PM
Studying in the Ph.D. program of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah.

Alex Elinson
New York, NY
M.A., 1998

Submission date: 2/15/2011 1:00 PM
I received my M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization in 1998. After receiving my Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2004, I taught at Queens College of the City University of New York, and am currently Assistant Professor of Arabic at Hunter College of the City University of New York. My book entitled Looking Back at al-Andalus: the poetics of loss and nostalgia in medieval Arabic and Hebrew Literature is published by Brill. I am currently conducting research on Arab literary culture in fourteenth century North Africa and Spain, as well as working on a project investigating the role of Moroccan colloquial Arabic in writing in contemporary Morocco.

Esther Fine
Costa Mesa, CA
B.A., 1998


Submission date: 6/01/2009 1:56 PM
Earned MD degree. Completing residency in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery in 2010.

Rob Frantz
Seattle, WA
M.A., 1977

Submission date: 6/01/2009 2:17 PM
I have worked at the University of Washington since 1986, mostly in financial administration in the UW Medical School.
I currently have two sons, David (22) and Joey (20), who are students here, majoring in French and English respectively.

Clarke Hamilton
Deer Park, WA
M.A., 1981


Submission date: 6/01/2009 5:27 PM
Retired from Morgan Stanley.

Janet Heineck
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1970
M.A., 1972

Submission date: 6/01/2009 2:53 PM
I am fortunate to be earning my living employed in the areas in which I received my language training in NELC, as the University of Washington Libraries's Middle East Cataloger and Jewish Studies Selector.

Emine Hosoglu Dogan
Salt Lake City, UT



Submission date: 6/08/2009 1:17 AM
The year I graduated, I was admitted to the Middle East Center at the University of Utah as a Ph.D. student. I have become a Ph.D. candidate, and next academic year I am planning to be in Turkey to do archival research for my dissertation. I taught modern Turkish language in the department for three years and this academic year I received Graduate Research Fellowship. I participated in MESA, AATT, and MLA annual conferences and presented papers. I am also involved in the NMELRC Language Proficiency Assessment Projects and currently working on becoming a certified OPI tester for ACTFL.

Ali Igmen
Los Angeles, CA
M.A., 1993

Submission date: 12/11/2008 6:48 PM
After receiving his doctoral degree from the Department of History at University of Washington in 2004, Ali F. Igmen taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as the Kemal H. Karpat Professor of Central Asian Studies. In 2006, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Central Asian History and the Director of Oral History at Department of History of California State University, Long Beach. During his first year at CSULB, he organized an international conference on “Eurasian Women and Self-Reliance: Religion and Education in the Contemporary World” in cooperation with the Center for European and Eurasian Studies at UCLA. Since 2002, he has been awarded the Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council and Max Planck Institute Fellowships. He has published several articles in Central Eurasian Studies Review, and in the Koebner Yearbook for Central European History, Culture & Thought, a publication of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently, he is completing his manuscript for publication entitled Daughters of Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Gender, Power and National Politics in Twentieth-Century Central Asia. His most recent article on Kyrgyz Houses of Culture is coming out in 2010 in the edited volume entitled Reconstructing the Soviet and Eastern European Houses House of Culture, edited by Joachim Otto Habeck and Brian Dohahoe of the Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung. He continues to teach new courses on Central Asia, Middle East and Oral History.

Jacob Janecek
Washington, DC
B.A., 2010

Submission date: 3/26/2013 6:02 PM
Following my graduation I participated in an AmeriCorps internship at a non-profit radio station where I hosted a weekly Arab music and cultural program. I recently relocated to Washington, DC where I will be attending George Washington University in the fall of 2013.

Alex Jassen
St Louis Park, MN
B.A., 2001

Submission date: 7/17/2008 3:07 PM
I completed a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (2006) and is now assistant professor of Early Judaism at the University of Minnesota. I published a book entitled Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 2007). In summer 2007, I was a visiting instructor at the UW, teaching "Jewish Mystical Traditions" (cross-listed with NELC). I am married with one daughter (born March 2007).

Stefan Kamola
Seattle, WA
M.A., 2007


Submission date: 6/02/2009 7:59 AM
I'm just down the hill in Smith Hall, doing a Ph.D. in medieval Persian history.

Mary (George) Kearney
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1987


Submission date: 6/02/2009 12:59 PM
Raising three boys and soon to be a fourth little girl.

Elmira Kochumkulova
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
B.A., M.A., 1998



Submission date: 7/21/2008 10:27 PM
I received my Ph.D. from the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at UW. My doctoral dissertation is titled: “Kyrgyz Nomadic Customs and the Impact of Re-Islamization after Independence.”
I very much enjoyed my stay and study in Seattle which I consider my second home. In addition to studying, I had many opportunities to present Kyrgyz music and culture for an American audience.
Last year, upon finishing my Ph.D., I returned to my home country Kyrgyzstan. Currently, I work as a Research Associate at the University of Central Asia (UCA) that was founded in 2000 by the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. As a Research Associate at UCA, I conduct new and original research on Central Asian culture as well as help to develop the University’s Undergraduate Programme and Central Asian Faculty Development Programme. I am also revising my dissertation for publication.
I will always be very grateful for the NELC Department and the Graduate School for their generous and continuous support that they gave throughout my study. In the future, I very much want to return to my Alma Mater as a visiting scholar and share my new research findings on rich and changing culture of Central Asia with American students and colleagues.

Suha Kudsieh
New York, NY
M.A., 1998


Submission date: 04/19/2010 7:11 PM
Suha completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto and now has a tenure track position at College of Staten-Island CUNY.

Karen Lebens
Diablo, WA
B.A., 1973



Submission date: 12/15/2009 9:27 AM
I currently live and work up in the North Cascades in the town of Diablo, operating a hydroelectric powerhouse for Seattle City Light. In the past several years I've traveled to Turkey and Greece several times, to Morocco in 2007 and to Central Asia this year (visiting all five 'stans and finally visiting Samarkand and Bokhara). NE studies have been a great help in travel and communication and I am thinking about learning Uzbek now.

Joseph Lowry
Philadelphia, PA
B.A., 1985


Submission date: 6/01/2009 8:42 PM
I am pleased to report that I have been promoted to Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, effective July 2009.

Robert Mason
Bellevue, WA
B.A., 1980



Submission date: 6/09/2009 8:47 AM
Fulbright scholarship, Damascus, Syria 1980-1981
Library of Congress, Washington D.C. - Research Analyst 1982-1988
M.S., Georgetown Univ. 1988 -- International Business and Economics
Graduate Business Program in International Management; Templeton College, Oxford University, 1988
Investigative Group International, Inc. (Washington, D.C.) - Managing Director, to present.

Melinda McBride
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1982


Submission date: 7/20/2009 2:58 PM
I am currently co-owner of Scooter Gallery Seattle, in the University District not far from the UW campus. Our web site is:

Diana McDermott
New Orleans, LA
B.A., 1997



Submission date: 7/21/2008 8:21 AM
I completed MD and MPH degrees at Tulane School of Medicine and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. I completed a combined residency in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. Currently, I am faculty at LSU in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics responsible for supervising residents in the Med/Peds clinic and University of New Orleans Student Health Clinic, lecturing residents in Internal Medicine, supervising residents at Luke's House volunteer clinic and supervising residents in inpatient settings. My husband Scott (A&S '97) and I welcomed the birth of our first child, Shoshana, in May!

Monica Meadows
Insch, Scotland
M.A., 2005

Submission date: 6/02/2009 11:44 PM
I passed general doctoral exams in the History Department at UW in May. We are relocating to Scotland, where my husband is from with our two children [Allegra is 10 and George will be 1 year old in July] in June. We will spend a year in Turkey followed by another in India while I research the horse trade for my dissertation.

Anne Morrison
Seattle, WA
B.A., 2003



Submission date: 6/02/2009 2:23 PM
When I was in NELC studies I worked as a program director designing custom tours in Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and several African safari countries. Due to 9/11 I was unable to continue full-time in this field after I graduated, as Middle East and African travel took a severe nose dive and has not yet fully recovered. Although I stayed in this field part-time for 3 more years, 2 weeks after I graduated (major NELC, minor African Studies) I started pre-requisites for nursing school. I am now a psychiatric RN, working at UWMC and Harborview. The knowledge I gained from NELC and African cultural studies has helped me better understand the needs of our diverse patient population, and I often volunteer to work with patients who are originally from the Near East, Africa, and other areas where I have traveled.

Joshua Neely
Auburn, WA
B.A., 2006

Submission date: 6/02/2009 2:39 PM
Immediately after graduating with my BA from NELC, I began my studies at the Jackson School to earn my MA in Intl. Studies (Middle East). I completed that degree in 2008. I now own and operate a vineyard and winery in the Auburn/Enumclaw area.


Ryan Nichols
Washington, D.C.
B.A., 2009

Submission date: 8/18/2010 12:49 PM
Beginning an M.A. program in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University this fall.

Spent this fall working in an orphanage in Lebanon, this winter in the Dominican Republic and Haiti doing earthquake relief, and this spring enjoying the hectic/wonderful city of Cairo.

Kerrie O'Leary
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1984


Submission date: 8/14/2008 4:03 PM
1984 - Bachelor of Arts (Near Eastern Languages and Civilization)

1995 - Bachelor of Arts (Comparative Literature)

2003 - Master of Arts (Comparative Literature)

Istanbul, Turkey
B.A., 2008


Submission date: 2/23/2011 2:41 PM
I graduated in 2008 (B.A. in Near Eastern Languages & Civilization: Turkic Languages). I taught at a local college in western North Carolina, earned a teaching certificate, and begun bluegrass fiddling while maintaining my hobby of canvas-making and oil painting for two and a half years. I moved to Istanbul at the end of 2010 and got married at the beginning of 2011. I'm just "living it up" at the moment with my Turkish family: learning how to cook homemade Turkish foods, observing and absorbing everything around me. "Insanin dogdugu yer degil, doydugu yer vatandir." Go Huskies!

Amy Paulsen-Reed
Boxford, MA
B.A., 2004


Submission date: 6/02/2009 8:16 AM
Since graduating from NELC in 2004, I have earned two Master's degrees from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA, one in Biblical Languages and one in Old Testament. I will begin my doctorate (Th.D.) in Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School fall 2010.

Natalie Price
Glendale, AZ
B.A., 1961



Submission date: 7/23/2008 12:31 PM
In 1963, I was scheduled to go in the Peace Corps to North Borneo to teach English but at the last minute, I became engaged and married. In 1985 I started work at PACCAR Inc in Renton, WA (until then, I stayed home and raised 3 children) and worked there for 16 years until my retirement in 2001. Most of that time, I worked in the Information Technology department. My job assignments took me to Australia, The Netherlands and Great Britain. In addition, I have traveled to Germany, France, Spain and China. For 44 years, I lived in Normandy Park, WA and currently live in Glendale, AZ.

Alva Robinson
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
M.A., 2011

Submission date: 11/20/2012 9:45 PM
After receiving his MA from the University of Washington’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilization Department (NELC), Alva Robinson relocated to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan with the aims of immersing himself within the culture and language of Central Asian Turks. Since his arrival in Bishkek, Alva has been teaching at the International Ataturk-Alatoo University (IAAU). He has worked tirelessly alongside his students to improve on the current library system within the country. In May of 2012 he guided his students in re-enacting IAAU’s first full length theatrical performance, entitled Cinderella: A Pantomime in One Act. The goal of the performance was to raise awareness for the need to engage scholars across Central Asia with one another while working across national boundaries. The first step towards that is through scholarly book exchanges at the university level. In their efforts, Alva’s first year students raised over 250$ towards the purchase of books from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to be included within IAAU’s library. At his insistence, IAAU has begun talks with other universities in Kazakhstan in creating a shared database of academic articles and books for the use of both students and scholars. 

During the same academic period, Alva worked closely with students from The Simultaneous Translation (ST) Club of the Simultaneous Translation Department of the International Ataturk-Alatoo University (IAAU) and Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University (KTMU) in organizing the 1st Annual Central Asian Literary Heritage Seminar: “The Life and Works of Mirzabek Toybayev.” While Alva inspired the students to begin a tradition of honoring the lives and works of writers and poets across Central Asia, the seminar, is to be considered first and foremost as a student based initiative. 

Alva has also opted to continue his academic pursuits. Although not currently in any specific degree program at the time, Alva continues to be active within the academic community. He has been invited to and participated in a number of conferences. Most notably, he has presented papers for Discovery Central Asia Travel Forum in April 2011 and for Chingiz Aitmatov and the Renaissance of Turkic Civilization in May 2011, organized by Kyrgyz – Turkish Manas University. The papers were respectively entitled, “Central Asia and Education: A Call for Comparative Studies, Cooperation and Scholastic Exchange”, and “Chingiz Aitmatov On a Global Scale”, a joint presentation with Dr. Charles Carlson of KTMU. 

Alva has also continued his on-going research within the field of Central Asian Turkic literature. One of his manuscripts has been approved by book editors out of London to be included as a book chapter in a forthcoming publication on the Post-Soviet Central Asian republics. He also continues overseeing the Journal of Central and Inner Asian Dialogue (JCIAD), an online peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Ilse Cirtautas, NELC, University of Washington, Alva has worked tirelessly with his colleagues from Central and Inner Asia in completing the second issue of JCIAD News, a supplementary newsletter to JCIAD. Alva is immensely indebted to Dr. Cirtautas for her dedication and owes a great deal of gratitude to all his colleagues across Central and Inner Asia for the success he has achieved thus far.

Anna Robinson
Seattle, WA
B.A., 2010

Submission date: 5/10/2011 7:05 AM
I interned with OneWorld Now! in their Critical Language Summer Camp for area High School students.

Muge Salmaner
Seattle, WA
M.A., 2006


Submission date: 6/01/2009 1:52 PM
After I graduated from NELC, I started my Ph.D. in Near and Middle Eastern Studies Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in UW. I am still in contact with NELC, I made a presentation on NELC-SA conference in May 2010.

Özlem Sensoy
Vancouver, Canada
M.A., 1998

Submission date: 7/17/2008 7:33 PM
I completed my Ph.D. in multicultural education in the College of Education at UW, Seattle in 2004. In January 2006, I began an appointment as Assistant Professor of social education in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. I conduct research in fields that include multicultural education, cultural studies, visual research methods, and pop culture. Recent publications include: "I wouldn't want to be a woman in the Middle East: White female narratives of Muslim oppression" in Radical Pedagogy; "Pedagogical strategies for disrupting gendered Orientalism: Mining the binary gap in teacher education" in The Journal of Intercultural Education; and “Ickity Ackity Open Sesame”: Learning about the Middle East in Images. In B. Subedi (Ed.), Rethinking Curricular Knowledge in Global Societies (forthcoming, 2009).
I am currently completing two books: Muslim Voices in School: Narratives of Identity and Pluralism (co-edited with Christopher Stonebanks), Rotterdam: Sense Publishers); and Teaching Against Islamophobia (co-authored with Stonebanks), NY: Peter Lang. Both forthcoming in 2009.
I feel really privileged to have had my time at NELC, and still actively use the knowledge, skills, and dispositions I nurtured while there. Thanks for asking about me! I look forward to learning what all the alums are up to.

Warm regards,

~ Özlem

Nahzinine Shakeri
Baltimore, MD
B.A., 2007


Submission date: 7/17/2008 11:54 PM
Beginning in August 2008, I will be a medical student in the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Class of 2012. I hope to one day practice medicine in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.

Ryan Shauers
Washington, D.C.
B.A., 2007


Submission date: 7/17/2008 2:48 PM
Working as a Staff Assistant in Congressman Norm Dicks' (WA-06) Washington DC office.

Gabriel Skoog
Seattle, WA
M.A., 2009


Submission date: 6/03/2009 11:05 AM
Just graduated.

Tamara Sollinger
Seattle, WA
M.A., 2006


Submission date: 6/01/2009 1:49 PM
Academic Advisor in the Political Science Department at the UW.

Jeanne Suleiman
Seattle, WA
B.A., 2005

Submission date: 7/26/2008 5:54 AM
I am currently attending SPU, working on my Masters Degree in TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Insha'Allah, I will be graduating in spring 2009. I'm also working for Seattle Public Schools; this year out in West Seattle at Cooper Elementary, the District's most multicultural elementary site. At Cooper, I have the opportunity to use my Arabic language skills. I also just completed a term at Washington Academy of Languages in Spanish, looking to gain more proficiency so that I can communicate to the school's Spanish-speaking families.

My children are rapidly growing up; I now have a high schooler, a middle schooler and a 2nd grader! Those of you that remember them being little would find them not so little any more!

Salaams to all my former classmates! I hope you're all doing well, Insha'Allah.

Tanja Vance
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1996


Submission date: 9/19/2008 9:09 AM
I just finished law school at the UW and am taking the bar exam this summer. Later in fall of 2009 I will be launching my own real estate law business.

Emily Wilson
Seattle, WA
B.A., 1996

Submission date: 7/29/2008 10:29 PM
Owning her own business, Emily Unlimited, for over 20 years, Emily Wilson works as a professional organizer and "Clutter Controller." Emily's business also specializes in moving people whether it be house-to-house or nationally and internationally. A member of N.A.P.O. (National Association of Professional Organizers) Emily further lectures locally on clutter control. Another business Emily operates is "Traveller Worldwide Explorations, whereby she escorts small group tours of 12 or less clients to North Africa, Turkey, Middle East and Turkey. Personally, Emily Wilson has been married to Michael A. Rich (UW Civil Engineering '73) for more than 30 years. They have a teenage son, Garret Gabriel Richwilson.
In spring 2007, Emily authored: From Boats to Board Feet: The Wilson Family of the Pacific Coast, a comprehensive, handsomely illustrated 464-page book detailing the Wilson family (a Swedish immigrant family who originally settled in Rainier, Oregon) and its business enterprises along the American Pacific Coast in the 1800s and 1900s. Leland Nitzler of the Everton’s Genealogical Helper November/ December 2007 said: "Honestly, this volume is one of the best family histories I've ever seen, complete with detailed endnotes and bibliography, portions of the volume that are so important to good genealogical research, but often skimped upon. Also included are numerous pedigree charts and family group sheets. An unbelievably great book, it's one anyone would be proud to own."

David Woodward
Seattle, WA
M.A., 1985

Submission date: 6/02/2009 8:03 AM
I received a fellowship to begin my M.A. with NELC in 1981. After my first year I got an opportunity to teach at Kuwait University so went abroad in 1982 - 83. After returning, I completed my degree while teaching for my current employer, American Cultural Exchange (also known as Associates in Cultural Exchange). In 1998 I became president of A.C.E., and in subsequent years began expanding A.C.E.'s World Language Programs division to include Arabic, Persian, and now Urdu. NELC has supported A.C.E.'s Arabic summer camp for elementary children since 2004 and this year A.C.E. has received its first Depepartment of Education grant to expand its summer programs to include middle school children in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. Since 1989 I've been representing A.C.E. in the Middle East, North Afirca, and Central Asia, developing relationships with universities and government agencies from Morocco to Kazakhstan. In 2004 A.C.E. became the U.S. Liaison for Sultan Qaboos University and later hosted 66 students and faculty for study tours in Seattle. In 2006 A.C.E. became the U.S. Liaison for the UAE Academy of Abu Dhabi, & has since assisted the Seattle Chamber in planning and implementing a study tour in March 2009 of 84 leaders to the UAE, and a post trip to Oman for 15 delegates. A.C.E.'s mission is to build bridges of friendship worldwide through education and training. My background with NELC has been key to A.C.E.'s successes in developing its M.E.-related programs.

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