On Wednesday, April 27, faculty, staff, students and their families gathered in the Rackham Assembly Hall to honor our 2016 graduates and awardees. The event was hosted by the Near Eastern Studies Department Chair, Gottfried Hagen.



Every year, through the presentation of awards, NES has the pleasure of recognizing promising students within the diverse areas represented within the department. The awards honor student success in various ways-- through writing, overall academic performance, or achievements in teaching. The NES award recipients for 2016 are:

The Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Scholarship in Islamic Studies

Recognizes up to two undergraduate students a year who have written an exceptional essay for a Near Eastern Studies Islamic studies course

  • Rohan Kher

  • Graham Low (not pictured)

The Great Books of Islamic Civilization Prize

Awards up to two graduate students a year who have shown diligence in research, academic performance, and professional pursuits within the area of Islamic studies

  • Juan Udaondo Alegre

  • Alexander Scott

The Raji Rammuny Award for Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Honors up to two graduate students a year who have performed above and beyond the norm as an instructor within the classroom and in their academic and professional pursuits

  • Elizabeth Caton

  • James Vizthum

The George G. Cameron Award

Given to one exceptional student a year in the field of Ancient or Biblical studies

  • Wayland Scott Isham

The Esther and Wolf Snyder Award

Recognizes up to two students a year who have shown great diligence in coursework related to Hebrew and Jewish cultural studies

  • Sharo Costa (not pictured)

  • Eliana Geller

The Nathan D. Metzger Award

Given annually to a student for excellence in writing in post-Biblical Jewish history, literature, or philosophy

  • Nadav Linial

One of the highlights of our ceremony on April 27 was awarding the third annual Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler Memorial Award. This award was established to celebrate the lives of Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler and the special relationship they formed as mentor and mentee working at the U.S. State Department. Both Shuckran and Julia were dedicated to the fields of language and translation, pursuing lives that valued the diversity of human culture and promoted understanding among peoples of the world. This annual award recognizes one   exceptional student in either Arabic or Hebrew language who has shown a commitment to language study and an interest in translation. This year’s recipient is Samuel Rentschler, an Arabic language student and LSA undergraduate. We were pleased to have the parents of Julia Segall-Derfler at the ceremony for the presentation of this award.  


Our ceremony concluded by focusing on our graduates within the Class of 2016. Present at the festivities were both students of our Masters and undergraduate programs. This year’s class welcomed the first graduates with our new major in Near Eastern Studies. As he does every year in his address to our graduates, Professor Hagen asked the students to take what they have learned at the University of Michigan and use it to give to others, promote peace, impart respect, and make a positive difference on the world. In his words: “You have the knowledge and the ability to imagine better.” The graduates were called to the front in succession and given a small gift from the department.

The Department of Near Eastern Studies wishes to extend its sincerest congratulations to all of our awardees and graduates this year. Thank you for taking part in this special day.