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Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Background

Before I begin posting about the trips themselves, it may be useful to explain my experience and interests (students read: "qualifications.")  I have had a deep interest in the Middle East region since high school.  The history and politics are fascinating, accompanied by a beautiful religion and culture refreshingly unlike my own.  I saw my potential in political science mostly through Model UN in high school.  My first step toward pursuing what became fervent goals of working in diplomacy within the Middle East was enrolling in Arabic classes at Anne Arundel County Community College my senior year of high school.  My tuition was halved by a program called "Jump Start," an opportunity I highly recommend to any AACPS high school-ers.  My classes were great.  They were challenging and fun, and learning Arabic became my way to differentiate myself from the rest of my graduating class.

In my junior year of high school, I competed in Junior Miss.  Junior Miss is a scholarship program that seems a lot like a pageant in form, but includes academics and gives no preference to beauty as traditional pageants do.  Girls who compete in Junior Miss find a number of doors opened for them, as I did in the form of a full tuition, room, and board scholarship from Troy University in Alabama.  Although, at the time, I would have much preferred a more prestigious mid-Atlantic school, I now see what a blessing attending Troy is, primarily in allowing me to travel while working on my undergraduate studies.  Troy doesn't offer Arabic, but I took all the political science and history classes that contributed to my understanding of the Middle East.  Over the summer of 2012, I attended the University of Maryland through the Summer Intensive Arabic Program.  The program was challenging and rewarding, and it recharged by Arabic to allow me to continue studying in Dubai.

Over the past few years, I've applied to a multitude of internships and study abroad scholarships to no avail. It was very discouraging; I thought my Troy education had seriously disadvantaged me against students from other schools better known for political science.  My break came from the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR).  NCUSAR sends students who have been successful in the Model Arab League on an all-expense-paid trip to Saudi Arabia.  My professor nominated me, but I thought my chances of winning were slim; I was very happily mistaken.  Shortly after, I received an email that I was selected as a 2013 Clinton Scholar at American University in Dubai.  The scholarship covers tuition and room costs, and it is for  this I feel that now Bill and I would get along grandly.

If there is any interest in what, I think, specifically won me those scholarships, I'd be happy to share to anyone applying.  I hope that my next post on preparing for Saudi Arabia might be a bit less dry.  But until then, I'll be catching up on some friends from home and my Arabic.

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Troy, AL, United States
I am a Political Science student at Troy University in southeastern Alabama. I have been given fantastic opportunities to travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other brief trips, to study and glimpse other cultures. I believe there is much to be learned about other people while studying, and I want to share my experiences with you.