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Bryon Maxey is completed his MA in Middle Eastern and North African Studies in 2018, focusing on the history of Islamic education bridging Africa and the Americas. He completed a BA in History, African Studies and a minor in Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Bryon finds inspiration in family and community accounts of resilience, erudition, and triumph; his professional and academic career includes multifaceted experiences as a pre-college educator, multifaith community organizer, and project facilitator of digital learning. At U-M, Bryon helped launch initiatives including: Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum; Islamic Knowledge, Histories & Languages, Arts & Sciences; Youth Civil Rights Academy; and the Teach-Out Series.

Derek Lief is completed his dual master’s degree in Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Public Policy in 2018. After his undergraduate career, Derek worked for four years at FTI Consulting in San Francisco. At the same time, he started taking classes in math, Arabic, and Hebrew. He has lived in Israel and Jordan for the last four years, where he served the Peace Corps and worked with NGOs.

Sarah Gerges earned a BA in Linguistics with minors in French and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Kansas in 2015. As an undergraduate, she also began studying Turkish, and spent two summers in Izmir with a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State and a program administered by the University of Arizona. In 2017, Sarah received a Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Turkey, but the program was canceled in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt. She has recently returned from Istanbul at Bogazici University sponsored by the American Research Institute in Turkey. Sarah completed her MA in Middle Eastern and North African Studies in 2018.