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Middle East Studies Scholarships

The Middle East Studies Center administers scholarships and fellowships for Middle East language and area studies at Portland State University.

Scholarship Recipients 2016:

Laila Mottaghi (Gary and Patricia Leiser Scholarship):

Laila Mottaghi is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development with a focus in the Middle East. By minoring in Persian, Laila plans to spend part of her senior year studying abroad in a Persian speaking community to improve her fluency in the language, as well as to understand local dialects. Laila is inspired by the individuals who continue to shine in the Middle East despite an environment of war, corruption, resource exploitation, and political oppression. Laila hopes to use her language skills to share the stories of these people with the rest of the world and promote better relations between the United States and Iran.

Robin Brackett (Gary and Patricia Leiser Scholarship):

After attaining a Bachelor’s of Studio Arts from the University of Colorado, Robin Brackett is seeking her second Bachelor’s degree in International Studies at Portland State focusing on the Middle East with a minor in Persian language. Robin has also gained experience working with children in an afterschool arts program and as a volunteer reader to gain a greater appreciation for how children learn and develop. Robin also plans to teach English abroad in Central Asia and further develop her language skills in Persian in an immersive environment. Robin hopes to use her scholarship award to continue studying Persian language at PSU and hopefully abroad as well, with the goal of eventually blending the arts and languages of Central Asia into a career with a museum or other artistic organization. 

Rachael Bennett (Gary and Patricia Leiser Shcolarship & Elizabeth Ducey Scholarship):

As a second year International Development Studies major with a focus on the Middle East, Rachael Bennet plans to use her scholarship awards to help fund a yearlong study abroad experience through CIEE focusing on Diplomacy and Policy Studies and Advanced Arabic Language in Amman, Jordan. Rachael’s passion for studying language began with Spanish and Japanese before turning to Arabic. Engaging in organizations like Interact and Key Club from an early age, Rachael was also able to develop an understanding of and appreciation for international issues. Rachael has her sights set on a fulfilling career path in the State Department or USAID as a Foreign Service or Public Diplomacy Officer specializing in the Middle East.

Eric Clary (John Damis Middle East Studies Scholarship):

Since earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Purdue University in 2006, Eric Clary has chosen to pursue a Master’s Degree in political science at PSU focusing on comparative politics and international affairs in the Middle East. Eric is also participating in the Contemporary Turkish Studies Certificate Program to further his specialization in the region with a particular emphasis on energy and security concerns in the country. Eric’s fascination with the Middle East started at an early age with the stories of the likes of Sir Richard Burton and T.E. Lawrence to fuel a child’s imagination. These early interests were further honed after Eric traveled to Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, and Palestinian territories. Eric hopes to build upon an internship as a political analysist on the Middle East with the MASY Group into a meaningful career as an analysist specializing in Turkish affairs.