On Wednesday, May 1 nearly 100 faculty, staff, students, and family members gathered in the Michigan League's Vandenberg Room to honor our 2019 graduates and awardees. The event was hosted by the Middle East Studies Department Chair, Gottfried Hagen, with several presentations for awards given by Gabriele Boccaccini, Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature.

Every year, through the presentation of awards, MES 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 MES award recipients for 2019 were:

The George G. Cameron Award in Near Eastern Studies

This award honors the "founding father" of the Department of Middle East Studies. Professor Cameron served as department chair from the department's inception in February 1949 to June 1969. The award recognizes a graduating senior in Middle East Studies with an academic record of excellence within the program.

The recipient of the 2019 George G. Cameron award was Mathilde Geannopulos, an Arabic Cultural Studies graduating senior. She presented a well-written speech about her experience in the department.

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 Middle East Studies Islamic studies course.

Nur Sarah Shuhaizan was recognized for her essay entitled "Women in Islam" that was written for MIDEAST 216: Introduction to Islam.

The Raji Rammuny Award for Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Langauge

This award recognizes a graduate student who has shown excellence in the field of teaching Arabic as a foreign language. Recipients are students who have performed above and beyond the norm in both their academic and professional pursuits.

Theresa Peters, a first year student in the Arabic for Professional Purposes Master's program, was recognized for her great aptitude, autonomy, and motivation in both teaching and learning Arabic.

Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Award

Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Undergraduate Award - recognizes an outstanding undergraduate student who has demonstrated commitment to the study of early Christianity through exemplary performance in undergraduate studies during the 2018-2019 Academic Year.

William Hearn - a Middle East Studies student with a focus on Ancient MES Religion and minors in Judaic Studies and Religion - was recognized for his exceptional writing and his brilliance.

Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Graduate Award - recognizes an outstanding graduate student who has made significant contributions to the activities of the Enoch Seminar during the 2018-2019 Academic Year

Joshua Scott - a doctoral candidate in Early Judaism and Christian Origins - served as the Secretary of the Enoch Graduate Seminar in Rome and of the second Enoch Colloquium in Denver.

Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Harold J. Ellens Undergraduate Student Award - This award is named for one of our alumni and a founding member and president of MCECS who recently passed away. The award recognizes an outstanding undergraduate student who has demonstrated commitment to the study of relations between Christianity, Judaism, adn Islam through exemplary work during the 2018-2019 Academic Year.

Noah Marcotte - a double major in Political Science and Middle East Studies focusing on Hebrew religion - has an impressive and contagious love for learning inside and outside of the classroom.

The Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler Memorial Award

Celebrates the lives of Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Dergler 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.

Anna Horton - a graduating senior in English and International studies - has turned a dream of helping the underprivileged overseas into a goal to help refugees translate their work and be able to tell their stories to a much wider audience. Her work in our Arabic Language Program proved that she is a very motivated learner who can excel under pressure. We wish Anna well as she uses this award towards her important journalistic work.

Our ceremony concluded by focusing on graduates within the Class of 2019. Present at the festivities were students from our PhD, MA, and undergraduate programs. This year's class are the first to graduate from the Department of Middle East Studies after our name change in September 2018, making their induction into our alumni network all the more special. The graduates were called to the front in succession and given a small gift from the department.

As he does every year in his address to our graduates, Professor Hagen asked the students to take what they have learned from the University of Michigan to 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 Department of Middle East 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.