- MES Alumni Profiles
- Tina Al-khersan, BA, 2017
- Zahir Allarakhia, BA, 2017
- Emily Feuka, BS, 2017
- Arwa Raza, BS, 2017
- Seif-Eldeen Basheer Saqallah, BA, 2017
- Leah Spellberg, BA, 2017
- Ryan Strong, BBA and BA, 2017
- Rona Beresh, BA, 2015
- Layan Charara, BA, 2015
- Alison M. Vacca, PhD, 2013
- Craig W. Tyson; MA, 2006; PhD, 2011
- Jonathan Trotter, BA, 2008
- Muhammad Aziz, PhD, 2004
- Sara Omar, BA, 2003
- Azadeh Shahshahani, BA, 2001
- Robert D. Miller II, PhD, 1998
- Kevin Sullivan; BA, 1994; MA, 1998
- Chave Bahle, MA, 1994
- April DeConick, PhD, 1994
Field of Study: BA in Near Eastern Studies - Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies
Graduation Year: 2008
I am a Lecturer in Theology and Biblical Studies at Lewis University in Illinois. After completing my BA in Near Eastern Studies at UM, with a focus in Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies, I continued my study of ancient Judaism and Christianity at Yale Divinity School (MA, 2010) and the University of Notre Dame (PhD, 2016).
My research engages both in the historical-critical and philological analysis of ancient Jewish and Christian literature and in the social scientific study of religion, ancient Judaism, and ancient Christianity. I focus on the Second Temple period and the Jewish diaspora, interests which were sparked in my courses at UM. My first book project (Center and Periphery: Jerusalem and the Temple in Diaspora Jewish Thought and Practice), which is a comprehensively revised and expanded version of my dissertation, makes use of diaspora criticism in exploring the functions of religion and sacred space in diaspora Jewish identity during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Expanding on these research interests, my courses introduce students to the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and related ancient Jewish and Christian literature in light of the historical and cultural contexts in which they were produced. I was engaged in this approach to studying the ancient world for the first time during my time as an undergraduate at UM, and it greatly enriched my understanding of the ancient world.
The training and mentorship I received during my time in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at UM set me on the path to success as a teacher and researcher. The internationally renowned faculty and exceptional graduate students in the NES program provided exemplary models of scholar-teachers, examples which I seek to emulate in my own teaching a research, and offered invaluable advice concerning a career in the academy. I remember fondly the many conversations during office hours and meals shared with my advisor and graduate students, many of whom I am still in contact with and see at professional conferences.