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Graduate Students

Chinese Studies Incoming 2018

Tessa Raymond

Tessa's interest in China began at a young age, when she started taking Mandarin lessons at her middle school—soon followed by a cultural immersion trip to China. She has continued to study Chinese and has developed a deep interest in U.S.-China diplomatic relations. She spent the summer of 2015 interning at the DaCheng Law Firm in Shanghai. Since receiving her B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University, she has worked in administrative roles within the university’s Asian Studies institutes and the University of Notre Dame.

Chad Westra

Chad earned a B.A. in Chinese and History from Calvin College in 2015. As a college freshman, his passion for Chinese studies took off. This interest was spurred by a semester spent abroad in Beijing, as well as living in Taiwan after graduation doing language study. He has also interned in Washington, D.C. at an Asia-focused organization and, most recently, worked for a Chinese American organization in Detroit in a bilingual capacity. Chad's primary research interests are Chinese history and literature.

Marie Sheehan

Marie is pursuing a J.D. and Chinese Studies M.A. dual degree program. She graduated from the College of Wooster in 2017, majoring in Political Science and Chinese Studies, and completed an undergraduate thesis that analyzed and compared disaster discourse in Chinese media after the industrial explosion in Tianjin and after the Sichaun earthquake in 2008. While in college, she also spent the summer of 2016 completing a research project at the Harbin Institute of Technology on the economic development of the northeast region of China, as well as studying in a Mandarin language immersion program. She hopes to deepen her understanding of governance and law in the People’s Republic of China while completing her master’s.

Siyin Zheng

Siyin Zheng earned a B.A. in International Relations from Xiamen University in 2018. Siyin Zheng's research integrates comparative politics, international relations, Chinese politics, and Southeast Asian studies.

Japanese Studies Incoming 2018

Molly DeDona

Molly earned a B.A. in Japanese and a B.F.A. in Art from Calvin College in 2018. She is interested in the arts as well as Japanese culture, so she enjoys researching modern and contemporary Japanese art and artists. She spent a semester abroad in Shiga Prefecture in Japan, where she was able to visit many museums and learned more about the country’s rich history of ceramics. She also served an internship with Otsuka Electronics in Kusatsu. During her undergraduate studies in Grand Rapids, she was a studio assistant for the ceramics program.

Andrew Greig

After graduating as an Asian Studies major from the University of Michigan, Andrew worked for three years in Japan as an assistant language teacher. He is now coming back in the hopes of accomplishing some legitimate academic research. He is queer and particularly interested in the politics of gender and sexuality in Japan. Here's to working with the leaders and the best, cheers!

Aaron Hoover

Aaron graduated in 2014 from Bradley University, earning bachelor of arts degrees in International Studies and Religious Studies. He’s originally from central Illinois, and he is newly married. After completing his undergraduate degree, Aaron lived for a year in Kyoto, Japan, where he studied the country’s tea ceremony, worked part time in a restaurant, and became involved in his local community. Since returning to the United States, he has advocated cross-cultural communication and understanding by facilitating study groups and speaking at events related to Japanese culture. Broadly speaking, his research interests are related to contemporary Japanese religion. More specifically, he is interested in exploring questions of identity and value associated with religious affiliation and participation in religious events (e.g. festivals, pilgrimage, etc.). His hobbies include cooking, hiking, and Japanese tea ceremonies.

Adrian Morales

Adrian's experiences as an undergraduate at Florida International University developed his interests in gender roles and work-life balance in Japan. He is interested in nationalist pride and minority representation within a framework of supposed homogeneity that exemplifies the nihonjinron framework. He is also interested in the deep connection of companies, government offices, and schools across Japan in inculcating and narrowing school-work transitions in the country. Adrian first traveled to Japan as a study abroad student enrolled at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto during the summer of 2016. Traveling around the country during that time helped him re-evaluate and focus on his academic and career goals. Since graduating, he has worked as an advisor for a Department of Education grant dedicated to improving pass rates for underprivileged and disadvantaged students at Miami Dade Community College. He has experience working in various departments within higher education, and looks forward to great experiences collaborating with Center for Japanese Studies faculty, students, and others in Ann Arbor.

Ying Duan

Ying graduated with a B.A. in Japanese from the University of Science and Technology Beijing. She is interested in studying Japanese popular culture, especially the way it was transformed and influenced by the process of globalization and glocalization. During a one-year exchange program in Tokyo, she conducted a research project that looked at the struggles of Nikkei Brazilian—inspiring Ying to reflect upon her experience living as part of a cultural and ethnic minority. These experiences sparked her interest in researching the lives of minorities in Japan and finding ways to make their voices heard.

Lauren Guz

Lauren graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a B.A. in International Studies (International Security, Norms, and Cooperation) and Asian Studies (Japanese Language and Culture). She spent winter and summer semester of her junior year studying abroad in Kyoto at Doshisha University. After graduation, she spent a year teaching English at an elementary and middle school in Kumamoto, Japan, through the JET program. Her research interests include history, politics, international relations, and nation-building in Meiji-Showa Japan.

Jillian H. Locke

Jillian began her studies at St. Lawrence University and spent her sophomore year abroad at International Christian University in Tokyo. After graduating in 2012 with a B.A. in History-Asian Studies, she spent four years in Chiba Prefecture, working first as an English teacher with the JET Program and later moving to public relations at Kanda University of International Studies. Her research interests focus on Buddhist-Shinto syncretism during the premodern period.

Meghan Mudrick

In 2018, Meghan graduated from Ramapo College in New Jersey with a B.A. in History and a minor in East Asian Studies; her research interests include modern history and international relations. As an undergraduate, she researched modern era international relations between the West and Japan, China, and Korea. Specific research included German-Japanese relations from 1933-1945 with a focus on the role of General Oshima Hiroshi and his significance with the establishment and continuation of the two countries' alliance during World War II. She studied abroad in Japan twice during her undergraduate work. Following her study abroad experiences, she worked for the college’s international education office by promoting her experiences and explaining study abroad requirements to first-year classes, open houses, and students preparing to study abroad. Lastly, she took part in, and later co-ran, the weekly Japanese language hours held by the international education office.

Middle Eastern and North African Studies Incoming 2018

Maryam Assar

Maryam graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of science in Biology, and a minor in Anthropology. She plans to study societies in their transition from revolutionary to post-revolutionary states, in particular Iran. Of great interest to her is the relationship between symbols and power during this transition, as well as the psychological implications. Maryam spent a year living in Iran studying Farsi and laying the groundwork for her anticipated research.

Meghan Hough

Meghan is in both the Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and Arabic Studies masters programs. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 with a B.A. in International Studies and Near East Studies, and a minor in Judaic Studies. Her research interests include theoretical linguistics, pre-modern Islam, and postcolonialism in the Middle East and Africa. As an undergraduate, she was the social media and communications intern for the Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum—a unique initiative providing students at Big Ten universities a robust curriculum specializing in Islamic Studies.

Ali Al Momar

Ali graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a B.A. in Public Policy. His primary area of interest is comparative politics in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in relation to electoral dynamics, democratic transitions, and identity politics. Ali previously worked at Freedom House, a Washington, D.C.–based democracy watchdog, where he assisted in managing a multi-million-dollar portfolio of human rights and democracy programs focusing on issues ranging from gender equality to justice-sector reform. He also contributed to Freedom House’s advocacy efforts, and his research was utilized in analyses and various press releases published on the organization’s website.

Mekarem Eljamal

Mekarem earned her B.A. in both International Studies and Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan in 2016. Following graduation, she spent time in Haifa, where she worked at a research institution focused on Palestinian citizens of Israel. Since returning to the United States, she has worked with the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies as a program assistant. Currently, she works with the Arab Studies Institute as the editor of both Al-Diwan, the blog arm of Tadween Publishing, and the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative. Her research interests center upon Palestinian citizens of Israel, specifically the processes and role of placemaking on notions of identity, citizenship, belonging, and non-belonging.

Ahmed Mitiche

Ahmed graduated in 2016 from the University of Indianapolis with a bachelor of arts in Sociology and Philosophy. As an undergraduate, he was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant which enabled him to travel to Morocco and conduct field work with activists from two contemporary social movements: the 20th February Movement and Hirak al-Rif. Ahmed is also an activist and community organizer, and a founder of an Indiana non-profit, FOCUS Initiatives, that is working to develop transitional housing and re-entry programming for formerly incarcerated persons in the state. Additionally, he is organizing against Countering Violent Extremism funding in Indianapolis as part of the American Friends Service Committee's Communities Against Islamophobia project.

Asma Noray

Asma Noray graduated from Swarthmore College in 2017 with a B.A. in both Political Science and Arabic. She is originally from Nairobi, Kenya, and grew up in Seattle, Washington. Asma has studied Arabic in Morocco, Oman, Iraq, and Jordan, and has worked extensively with refugee populations from these regions. Her research interests involve understanding refugee and migration crises in the Middle East through the lens of fiction and personal narratives. Over the past year, she has served as an AmeriCorps member at World Relief Seattle, where she worked to expand services for refugee youth in the area. In addition, Asma is also passionate about advocacy and civic engagement in the Muslim American community.

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Incoming 2018

Betty Compton

Betty's research interests include the Chechen-Russian Wars, Chechen masculinity, Salafism in the North Caucasus, and ethnicity-based prejudice in the Russian Federation. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at St. Petersburg State University studying Russian language and art. She received a B.A. in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Wesleyan University in 2011.

Kaley Hanenkrat

Kaley is a J.D./M.A. candidate. She earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science with a concentration in Slavic Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2011. She was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellowship the same year to expand her study of democratic development in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. She has worked in non-profit development in New York City and volunteered with the Open World Leadership Center. In law school, she has represented Michigan at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and serves as managing editor of the Michigan Journal of International Law. Her research interests include democratic development, anti-corruption efforts, and rule of law in the former Soviet Union; Ukrainian language, culture, and politics; social movements in semi-authoritarian regimes; human rights; and international law. Kaley's writing on Ukraine has been featured on Huffington Post and MJILOnline.

Jamal Khan

Jamal is a United States Army Foreign Area Officer specializing in South and Central Asian affairs. He received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University in 2006 and has served in the Army since. In 2017 he graduated from the Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute, a year-long program that included an immersion in Daugavpils, Latvia. He is just returning from a year-long assignment in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he served in the Office of Military Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy.

Mark Dovich

Mark Dovich is a fourth-year student at the University of Michigan pursuing an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REES) and a B.A. in Political Science and REES through the Concurrent Undergraduate-Graduate Studies program. He expects to receive his B.A. in December 2018. His research interests include democratization and development in Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe in the post-Communist period. His work experiences include internships at the International Specialized Exhibition "Astana Expo 2017" in Astana, Kazakhstan, and in the Political-Economic Section of the United States Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia; a virtual internship in the Economic Section of the United States Embassy in Moscow, Russia; and a fellowship at Human Rights First in Washington, D.C. He speaks Russian.

Justin Heddleson

Justin is a United States Army Foreign Area Officer specializing in South and Central Asian affairs. He received a B.S. in health science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2006 and an M.A. in industrial and organizational psychology in 2015. Justin has served in the Army since 2007. In 2017 he graduated from the Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute. He is just returning from a year-long assignment in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he attended the Sri Lankan Military’s Defense Services Command and Staff College.

Arakel Minassian

Arakel's primary interest is in Armenian politics in the post-Soviet period, but his work has extended across multiple disciplines. His undergraduate thesis was a piece of creative fiction about Monte Melkonian, an Armenian American who emigrated to independent Armenia to fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. After graduating in 2018 from McMaster University, Arakel spent the summer in Armenia working for Hetq, an investigative journalism website based in Yerevan. As an M.A student, he hopes to build on his educational background and his experiences on the ground with further interdisciplinary study of the post-Soviet sphere.

South Asian Studies Incoming 2018

Hina Haider

As an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Hina pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in History as well as Secondary Teaching Certification in Social Studies and History. She discovered her fervor for history while competing in the National History Day competition at the national level. While at UM-D Hina was honored as the History Honors Scholar as well as a Chancellor’s Medallion recipient. She has held various teaching positions over the past several years, teaching Arabic language and religious studies at a local Sunday school for nine years. She also worked as a teacher in Yes for Prep, a program that provides Detroit area youth from underrepresented minority groups with an advanced academic curriculum. Currently, she works at Star International Academy as a U.S. history teacher. In the future, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in history with a focus on Pakistan and the Urdu language.