Gifts to the CMES make it possible for students at all stages of their academic careers to learn languages like Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish, or visit the region to carry out research. Hover over the photos below to learn about some of our past grantees, and please consider making a gift to support student research and language training in the Middle East and North Africa!

Meet CMES grantees

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Candace Lukasik

CMES grants have been vital for the development of my Arabic language proficiency and dissertation research. The CMES has also provided me with a sense of community and has connected me to scholars across our campus and beyond. As I begin fieldwork, I am thankful to CMES for being an essential part of my scholarly life here at UC Berkeley.

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Robert Vessels '15

With a CMES grant, I was able to travel to Jordan and Iraq to conduct senior thesis research on the pragmatic undercurrents of the Islamic State and meet influential political leaders who became an integral part of my study. Returning to Iraq as a veteran who deployed twice to the region provided closure and an important perspective on my thesis.

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Samira Damavandi '15

I am thankful to have received a CMES grant to undertake research for my senior thesis in Middle Eastern Studies. With the grant, I was able to go to Washington D.C. during winter break of my senior year, carry out valuable archival research, and conduct interviews on the role of women's groups during the Iranian revolution.

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Samuel Metz '15

A CMES grant allowed me to travel to Algiers, Algeria to collect oral histories on the Black Panther Party’s exile for my senior thesis. The project was the perfect culmination of my UC Berkeley education, connecting Algerian history to the history of a social movement founded in the Bay Area. The personal touch of the CMES complements the strengths of our large research university.

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Blake Hughes '15

Thanks to a CMES grant I conducted field research in Erbil, Iraq, and Amman, Jordan during my senior year, obtaining valuable perspectives through interviewing Sunni leaders and academic, military and political experts. This investigation was key to gaining new insights into the emergence of Daesh via firsthand accounts of the group's operational and messaging capabilities.

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Kelley O'Dell '15

A CMES grant took me to Amman, Jordan, where I gathered interviews about how people navigate sexual identity. I was constantly humbled throughout the interview process, made lasting connections, and developed confidence in my ability to produce an ethnographic research paper. This experience facilitated a more comfortable and confident transition to graduate studies.

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Shannon Thomas '14

Thanks to a CMES grant, I was able to help lead a diplomatic trip to Palestine, Israel, and Jordan before my senior year. Not only did I gain firsthand experience in international diplomacy and conflict resolution, but I laid the research groundwork for a strong honors thesis, which was recently published in the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal.

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Holly Cramer '15

A CMES grant took me to the UK National Archives, where I studied King Hussein of Mecca’s accounts of relations with the British Foreign Office for my senior thesis on Arab agency in WWI. As a Stevens Scholar, I developed my Arabic language skills through immersive study in Amman, Jordan. The support I received from CMES has transformed my studies at UC Berkeley and set a trajectory for my career.