The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies is excited to introduce the 2017-18 cohort of Graduate Fellows in Jewish Studies. Fellows in the program receive mentorship from Jewish Studies faculty, attend workshops on public scholarship and Jewish Studies, and share their research with the community through public presentations and articles that will be published on the Stroum Center website. Funding for the annual Fellowship program is generously provided by community supporters.
Molly Fitzmorris, Isaac Alhadeff Sephardic Studies Fellow
Molly is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Linguistics. She has a BA in Latin American Studies from New York University, and an MA in Hispanic Studies from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the documentation of Ladino in Seattle, and her two current projects explore the dialects of Ladino spoken in Seattle and the use of a common Turkish suffix in Ladino. Molly helped organize the first three International Ladino Day celebrations in Seattle, and is an occasional student at the weekly Ladineros classes.
Sam Gordon, Rabbi Arthur A. Jacobovitz Fellow
Sam Gordon is currently a first-year master’s student at the Jackson School for International Studies concentrating on the Middle East. He is from Florida and attained a bachelor’s degree in 2014 from Florida State University majoring in History and International Affairs. After graduation, Sam moved to Jerusalem and worked as a research assistant at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He conducted research on topics including diplomacy and human rights in the Middle East. He also spent nine months living and working in Prague, where he absorbed a great deal about Jewish communities of Central Europe. For his Graduate Fellowship project, Sam plans to investigate the role Israel will play in the newly forming international order as well as the challenges and opportunities it faces on a global scale. His research interests include Israeli foreign policy, geopolitics of the Middle East, and the intersection between technology and foreign policy.
Rob Keener, Israel Studies Program Fellow
Robert Keener was born in Houston, Texas, where he attended St. Thomas High School and Texas Tech University. After college, Robert spent two years working in the oil and gas industry in Houston before academia came calling. He attended Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, where he took two courses on the history of the Middle East that sparked an interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The multi-sided presentation of the conflict by his mentor, Dr. Nikolas Trepanier, was far different than the single-sided polemics that he had previously heard. While at Ole Miss, Robert focused on studying systems of oppression such as apartheid, Jim Crow and imperialism. After earning his MA in history, Robert enrolled in the University of Washington’s Multicultural Education doctoral program, where his research centers on teaching controversial topics in social studies, global citizenship education, and the construction of knowledge. When he is not working as a research assistant at the Center for Multicultural Education or trying to earn his doctorate, Robert enjoys hiking in the mountains with his wife Emily and their chocolate lab named Rylee.
Pablo Jairo Tutillo Maldonado, Mickey Sreebny Memorial Scholar
Pablo Jairo Tutillo Maldonado, who hails from Connecticut, will pursue an MA in Middle East Studies at the Jackson School in the Fall 2017. Pablo obtained his BA in International Relations and a minor in Arabic Studies from Connecticut College. Pablo has studied at Alexandria University in Egypt and at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. At UW, Pablo is interested in researching the intersection of history and politics of countries in the Middle East, particularly the political and historical narratives of Jewish refugees from the Arab world. He speaks conversational Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish.
Vivian Mills, Richard M. Willner Memorial Scholar
Vivian is a second-year PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Washington. She was born in Ecuador and moved to the United States with her family at the age of sixteen. She received a BA in Business Economics and an MA in Spanish from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on identity and the building of textual authority in the literary works of Jewish, Converso and Morisco writers of late medieval and early-modern Iberia. Her latest research focuses on the works of Shem Tov of Carrion, a medieval poet and rabbi. When not reading poetry, you can find Vivian at work in her garden or spending time with her family.
Sara Molaie, Robert & Pamela Center Fellow
Sara Molaie is pursuing her Master’s in Comparative Religion in the Jackson School. As a member of the minority Baha’i community in Iran where she grew up, Molaie has had to overcome many challenges. After she immigrated to the United States in 2009, she focused her post-secondary education on religious studies, in an effort to contribute to raising awareness of the possibilities for multicultural coexistence. With a focus on Judaism and Islam, she completed elementary biblical and modern Hebrew and intermediate Arabic in her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Washington. Working on her MA thesis, which is related to the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language, she is going to advance her Hebrew in the summer as an FLAS awardee.
Ozgur Ozkan, Mervin & Georgiana Gorasht Fellow
Ozgur Ozkan is a PhD candidate in the Jackson School of International Studies’ doctoral program. He holds a BS degree in Systems Engineering and an MA degree in Regional Security Studies from the US Naval Postgraduate School. Ozgur’s research covers nationalism, ethnic politics, and civil-military relations in the Middle East. He has been conducting research on non-Muslims’ experiences in the Ottoman Army in the early twentieth century. He is planning to study Sephardic Jewish heritage in the northern Aegean and southern Marmara, especially in Canakkale and its vicinity, as well as Jewish participation to the Balkan Wars and the First World War.
Sarah Riskind, Robinovitch Family Fellow
Sarah Riskind is a doctoral student in choral conducting in the UW School of Music. Originally from Boston, MA, she holds degrees from Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to conducting, singing, and teaching, she has composed choral and instrumental works that have been performed in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Washington, many of which use Jewish liturgical texts in Hebrew and English. She is currently pursuing research on choral arrangements of Sephardic Jewish music.