The Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS) is pleased to announce the recipient of this year’s Mahfoud Bennoune Memorial Thesis Award. The winner is recent graduate Nicholas Xavier Kolenda for his thesis "Ḥubb al-Waṭan min al- Īmān: The Greater Syrian, Christian, Proto-nationalist Bourgeoisie and Ecumenical Ideas of a Greater Syria, 1850-1884". The award is given by CMENAS to support an outstanding Master's thesis in memory of Dr. Mahfoud Bennoune, a beloved Algerian professor, author, teacher, human rights advocate, and father, who studied at the University of Michigan. Nicholas’s thesis emphasizes the values that Dr. Bennoune fought for, including tolerance, secularism, human rights, and women’s rights.

Nicholas Xavier Kolenda graduated in April 2021 with an MA in Middle Eastern & North African Studies. He was a Rackham Merit Awardee and received FLAS both from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan for Intermediate and Advanced Persian respectively. Nicholas had the pleasure of presenting his thesis at a Lightning Talk with the International Institute on March 26, 2021. He was also a student speaker at the 2021 Masters in International and Regional Studies commencement ceremony on April 30, 2021. Nicholas is looking forward to taking a gap year before hopefully returning to academia for a Ph.D.

Congratulations, Nicholas, on this outstanding achievement!