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Fellowship recipients

The Middle East Studies Center and the Department of World Languages and Literatures announce Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship awards.

FLAS fellowships are available to students in any department who are pursuing a course of study which requires advanced foreign language and area studies training and who plan to use the training and language skills for graduate study or a career in an international field. Fellows must be enrolled full-time at Portland State University as degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate students. Priority is given to students who have strong academic records in their major and their language area of study. Fellowships provide support for tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

Congratulations to the following fellowship recipients!

Summer 2014

Jamie Biesanz (Arabic), Lamarra Haynes (Arabic), Kate Heintzman (Arabic), Hayley Moore (Turkish), Chandra Roberts (Hebrew), Clint Rollock (Hebrew), Seth Thomas (Arabic), Madeline Wyse (Arabic)

Academic Year 2013-14

Cody French (Arabic), Karen Lickteig, (Arabic), Nathan Jons (Persian), Seth Thomas (Arabic), and Ahmed Zuhairy (Arabic)

Summer 2013

Cody French (Arabic), Touraj Houshmand-Shafii (Turkish), Karen Lickteig (Arabic), Jonathan Vance (Persian), and Ahmed Zuhairy (Arabic)

Academic Year 2012-13

Ryan Deming (Arabic), Cody French (Arabic), Matthew Innes (Arabic), Nickolas Smith (Arabic), and Jonathan Vance (Persian)

Summer 2012

Touraj Houshmand-Shafii (Persian), Matthew Innes (Arabic), Asena Lawrence (Turkish), Jena Mathews (Arabic), Katelin Putnam (Turkish), Bella Reid (Arabic), and Jonathan Vance (Persian)

Academic Year 2011-12

Kathryn Krueger (Turkish), Jena Mathews (Arabic), Katelin Putnam (Turkish), David Duke (Arabic), and Aileen Wyse (Arabic)

Summer 2011

Ethan Gross (Hebrew), Touraj Housmand- Shafii (Persian), Katelin Putnam (Turkish), David Duke (Arabic), and James Moran (Turkish)

Academic Year 2010-11

Megan Dyer (Hebrew), Michelia Kramer (Turkish), Jena Mathews (Arabic), Meghan Ohmart (Arabic), Laurie Schindler (Arabic), Renata Stauder (Arabic), and Aileen Wyse (Arabic)



Jamie Biesanz is from from Talent, OR, and attended St. Mary's School in Medford. After graduating from high school, he spent a year in Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina with the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Biesanz is a double major in applied linguistics and Middle East studies. He studied Mandarin Chinese for seven terms at PSU.




Ryan Deming is a junior majoring in International Studies and minoring in Arabic. Ryan came to Portland State as a sophomore, after completing his first year of college at Southern Oregon University. This summer, he will be participating in an intensive six-week Arabic program in Fes, Morocco. He hopes that this experience will help him to achieve a high level of proficiency in the language before he returns to PSU in the fall to continue his studies.



As a second year MA student in the Department of Political Science, David Duke's interest in the Middle East has led him to Tunisia and Jordan over the last two summers. Both a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship and a Critical Language Scholarship have supported his study of Arabic and research on civil society development in the North African Maghreb. When not travelling and studying, you might find David scuba diving the Oregon coast, riding his motorcycle, or lurking around Powell's bookstore.



Cody French is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Arabic Studies at Portland State, with next year being his final year of undergrad (insha’allah!) In addition to Arabic, he has studied French and Spanish, and enjoys learning about the histories and “geographies” of languages. He is planning to travel abroad this summer to finally experience the region, hopefully visiting a few different countries. His linguistic pursuits often tussle for attention with making, playing, and recording music with his best friends.


Kate Heintzman is a senior at Portland State University (PSU) pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a Middle East focus.  Kate transferred to PSU in January 2012 after receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.  Kate studied Arabic in Oman last summer, and plans to return to Oman during the upcoming summer to study advanced Arabic.   Kate has a passion for Arabic and the Middle East culture and is currently enrolled and has completed 15 Arabic courses at PSU.  After PSU Kate wants to pursue a graduate degree in Arabic, and after academics, and looks toward a career in Foreign Service and/or National Security.  Kate is also the recipient of the Al-Khaledy Endowed, Azar and Bitar Scholarships.


Initially an EE major, Touraj Houshmand-Shafii found greater passion in pursuing an academic path that he feels is essential in today’s larger global context.  His fields of study at PSU include an International Studies – Middle East major, with minors in Persian, International Studies – Africa, and Black Studies.  Receiving FLAS fellowships for summer intensive language study continues to bring him closer to achieving fluency in Persian through participation at the Arabic, Persian, Turkish Language Immersion Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Touraj completed the intermediate program in 2011 and will be returning for the advanced program this summer.  Other awards, including the Damis, Ducey, and Leiser Scholarships for Middle East Studies/Middle East Languages as well as the Persia House Scholarship for study of Persian, have been instrumental in furthering Touraj’s passion for languages, which includes his past study of French and Spanish, as well as upcoming study of Turkish beginning in fall 2012.  His future plans include studying abroad, additional language acquisition and graduate/doctoral programs in the areas of international relations/affairs, conflict and terrorism studies, and peace operations/studies.  He believes this track will offer the greatest possibility of working in a field that enables him to interact with and help people in a more direct and profound way.  His other interests on campus include involvement with the Arab Persian Student Organization, assisting others in their academic pursuits through employ with PSU’s Disability Resource Center, and induction into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi this term.  Outside of academics, Touraj enjoys spending time with friends and loved ones, music, soccer, and chess.


Matthew Innes specializes in impact metrics analysis, and is researching risk assessment in social entrepreneur financing while he completes his MBA. He has previously worked in French and Spanish; his interest in Arabic was spurred by personal experiences in the Middle East and the opportunities for social entrepreneurship created by the Arab Spring.


Over the past several years Nathan Jons has interacted with numerous refugees from Persian speaking countries and noticed the difficulties they face in adjusting to a new language, culture, and community. Seeing these needs, along with a deep appreciation for these individuals, has motivated him to seek a degree in Applied Linguistics and learn the Persian language. He desires to teach English as a Second Language and serve refugees in the midst of their cultural and life transitions. Nathan moved to Portland in 2011 with his wife and kids, and when not knee-deep in homework, loves spending time with them, reading, coloring, and going on adventures. He and his family attend the Iranian Church of Portland, and are thankful for all their interaction with the local Persian community.


Katie Krueger is working towards a B.A. in international studies, with a focus on the Middle East, and double minors in women’s studies and the Turkish language. Throughout her course of study, her passionate commitment to learning and utilizing Turkish has helped Katie hone her interest in Turkish culture, politics and women’s rights, all of which she plans to incorporate into her future goals working in Turkey with human rights organizations. Alongside Turkish, Katie studied Arabic for two years and hopes to continue learning the language when traveling in the Middle East in the future. She loves hiking and surfing at the Oregon Coast, sharing her love of cooking with friends and family, and traveling to unique places, both in the United States and around the world.


Karen Lickteig is currently pursuing a degree in International Studies with a focus on the Middle East, with minors in Arabic language and Business Administration. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, urban development, sustainability, and cross-cultural communication. Karen grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and arrived in Portland in 2008 to attend Lewis & Clark College. She transferred to PSU in 2011 after studying abroad as a William Jefferson Clinton Scholar at the American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She also attended a PSU short-term faculty-led program to Doha, Qatar in Spring 2012. Last summer, she was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship for advanced Arabic study in Amman, Jordan. Karen has visited the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, and Oman. She has also interned for the US-Qatar Business Council and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center of the Middle East Institute, both in Washington, D.C. She currently serves as the Office Coordinator for PSU’s Middle East Studies Center. Karen plans to study Arabic in Muscat, Oman this summer on a FLAS fellowship. She will also enroll in the Master of Urban Studies program in the fall as a FLAS fellow, focusing on Middle Eastern cities and urban development.


Jena Mathews is a senior at Portland State University studying International Studies with a focus on the Middle East and a minor in the Arabic language.  She chose to learn Arabic so that she can, in the future, work with women's rights groups who promote women into positions of power and decision making in Middle Eastern societies.  There is an opportunity for positive and powerful change in the Middle East right now and it is very important that women are involved in this process.  She plans to participate in an intensive language program this summer in the Middle East to really solidify her language skills and hopefully make contacts with women's rights organizations.  Jena sees graduate school in her future, but for the time being, she is very excited to take what she has learned at PSU into the real world.


Katelin Putnam is majoring in Applied Linguistics and minoring in Turkish language study. Her other academic interests include French as a foreign language, Middle-East studies and women’s studies.   She is very interested in languages, and learning foreign languages is a personal hobby outside of class. She works as the Historian for the Arab-Persian Student Organization (APSO), which focuses on issues pertaining to the entire Middle East, excluding differentiating factors such as language, religion or ethnicity. She has lived in Turkey teaching English as a second language.


Having received a scholarship from the American Councils for International Education (ACIE), Bella Reid came to the United States from the Kyrgyz Republic in 1999 to study at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. In 2002, Bella graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. In 2011, she decided to continue her education and enrolled in Portland State University’s graduate program in Conflict Resolution. Bella’s professional interests have always lain in international relations; therefore, along with conflict resolution, she chose to also study Arabic. Knowledge of the Arabic language is a skill Bella would like to use as a future international conflict resolution practitioner.


Chan Roberts is a third year student of Modern Hebrew, majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences and International Studies with a Middle East focus at Portland State University (PSU). Prior to her studies at PSU, she studied at Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) in Eastern Washington where she obtained her Associate of Liberal Arts Degree. While working toward her degree, she was active in the local Jewish community, Temple Beth Shalom. There she took courses in Adult Hebrew Literacy, and Judaic Studies. She served as an activity coordinator for Spokane’s Jewish youth organization, Kadima. She also tutored fellow students in the Adult Hebrew Literacy program. In 2006 she toured Israel with TaglitBirthright Israel and discovered her passion for Modern Hebrew and Israel. She looks forward to returning to Israel and enhancing her knowledge of the language.


Clint Rollock is a senior at Portland State, majoring in Applied Linguistics and minoring in Arabic, Judaic Studies, and Classical Studies. He enjoys Hellenistic and Semitic languages alike, and is looking forward to applying them in a career as a bible translator and scholar. Having already spent four months in the Galilee, he is eager to continue his studies in Jerusalem with the goal of attaining fluency in the Hebrew language. He hopes to further study bible translation and the biblical languages in graduate school..


Seth Thomas is a senior at Portland State majoring in Arabic and International Studies: Middle East. As a child he lived in East Jerusalem from 1998 to 2002 and has been fascinated by the languages and cultures of the region since then. He began taking Arabic his sophomore year and has spent the past year studying Arabic in the Middle East at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo. He enjoys working with video and music, hiking, reading comics (as well as trying to translate Egyptian comics) and is looking forward to returning to the Pacific Northwest this summer.


Jonathan Vance started at Portland State University fall term. His interest in the Middle East, particularly Iran, is what brought him back to his hometown to study at Portland State. As an undergraduate, Jonathan is pursuing an International Studies degree, which allows him to study the Persian language. His intention is to elevate his Persian to the level of fluency and use this to pursue a graduate degree and a professional career in international relations. Jonathan is fascinated with the relationship that America has with Iran, and the lack of goodwill that exists between these two states. He believes that despite the grievances each country has towards each other, they can be overcome with diplomatic progress and the realization of common interests. This summer, Jonathan is enrolling in an immersion program at Wisconsin-Madison to improve his linguistic ability, and transition back into Portland State next fall to continue the pursuit of fluency. When he is not studying Jonathan is often still on the Portland State campus. He spends quite a bit of his time at the recreation center playing sports and lifting weights. Jonathan says his time at Portland State has been the most rewarding of his collegiate career, and he looks forward to completing another year of study.


Aileen Wyse has been studying Arabic at Portland State since the fall of 2006, and began graduate work focusing on the history of the Modern Middle East last year.  She is excited about the poetry of al-Andalus, and glad that she is finally studying it.  Aileen loves Arabic grammar and enjoys tutoring Arabic. She spends her extra moments at Powell’s where she has been collecting the best of children’s literature for decades.  Before taking a long break to raise her children, Aileen obtained a BA degree from Harvard, and an MBA from Stanford.



Ahmed Zuhairy is a first generation Iraqi. He is in his fourth year at Portland State, double-majoring in Arabic and Political Science. Ahmed's interest in politics began during middle school after listening to politically charged punk music. His interest in Arabic began during his first year at Portland State when he became fascinated with his heritage. This led him to begin studying Arabic under Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh, who greatly increased his desire to continue to learn his heritage language. In fall 2012, he spent the semester In Amman at the University of Jordan studying Arabic. After Jordan, Ahmed visited Iraq, his father’s country of origin, for the first time. His academic interests include MSA Arabic and various dialects and international politics. He also has an interest in international peace, conflict prevention, and refugee aid/solutions. He has a very strong personal interest in bicycling and he races for the Portland State Cycling Team. He also works with an Iraqi refugee family in SE Portland.