Beyond the Borders of the Classroom
Sarah Abdella-El Kallassy is a global studies senior who has had a positive impact on people at home and abroad through her experiences and commitment to cultural awareness.
Sarah spent six years from 2008-2014 serving her country in the United States Marine Corps as a cryptologic linguist specializing in the Pashto language. During that time, Sarah also earned an associate’s degree in Pashto from the Defense Language Institute.
Sarah’s efforts in the Marines have been recognized through awards and nominations. Her accolades include being nominated for the United States Marine Corps Language Professional of the Year in 2013 and receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in 2013 for her work with the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP). She says that her two years in Afghanistan were her most fulfilling, and her most riveting experience was assisting in the development of an APRP program in Helmand province: “We encouraged women to speak out for reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan citizens and government. We had about 250 local women participate, which is unheard of. It was an awesome experience.”
Sarah believes that the College of Liberal Arts is the ideal place for students to develop as well-rounded learners and citizens. “An education in the humanities is important to apply to your everyday life and everyday situations,” she says. “The theoretical knowledge learned from this global studies program gives you a great base that can then be applied to future situations.”
Sarah has focused her global studies major with specialities in the Middle East and global cultural analysis. Currently she is conducting research for her senior thesis on “the Phoenician Renaissance as a contributing factor to sectarian conflict in modern Lebanon.” In addition, she continues her language studies of Pashto, Dari, and Arabic.
Outside of academia, Sarah trains German shepherds and service dogs because “it’s just fun!”
After graduation, Sarah intends to go to graduate school for Middle Eastern studies. One day, she plans to go to the Middle East and work for the Department of Defense, the Department of State or as a freelance consultant. “I’d like to use my education and my experiences to advise the government on situations in the Middle East, so we don’t continue to make the same mistakes we’ve been making and to move forward in cultural awareness.”