Why did you choose to attend the University of Maryland, what makes this place special to you and what is your favorite part of being a Terp?
I chose to attend the University of Maryland because of flexibility it allowed me to pursue the research that was meaningful to me. My program, International Education Policy, gave me the foundations I needed to understand the most critical issues facing education around the world, but also gave me the freedom to follow my own research path, rather than prescribing a path for me. This kind of academic freedom is the hallmark of higher education, and when I saw that the International Education Policy program at the University of Maryland would offer that to me, I knew it was a perfect fit.
How will you make a positive difference in the world?
I plan to make a positive difference in the world by continuing both research and practice in the area of intergroup dialogue and intergroup education. For example, my dissertation looks at pedagogy for inter-religious dialogue, and I plan to use it as a tool for educating scholars and teachers about how to facilitate respectful, honest, and enlightening dialogues about students religious differences. Conflict between religious groups is a problem we see all over the world, yet religion tends to be something that is not discussed in school settings. Thus, I will also use my research to advocate for the increased inclusion of inter-religious dialogues as pedagogy for peace building and conflict resolution.
Beyond inter-religious dialogue, I plan to spend my career involved with multiple forms of intergroup dialogue. Whether it be race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identity category, I believe that teaching students how to dialogue about their differences with others is an important element of reducing violence, hatred, and discrimination. Through a continuous engagement with these issues, I hope to spend my career making a positive difference in my community, my country, and my world.