Sara Salimi

Sara Salimi

Sara Salimi

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

My capstone research was on the consequences of US sanctions on Iranians' daily lives. As one of the most highly sanctioned populations in the world, Iranians suffer from the pressures of sanctions on an everyday basis, from the inability to purchase basic living necessities to the absence of life-saving medications that the international community refuses to provide. My research explored these challenges in greater depth while attesting to the fact that sanctions are instruments of war that target a nation's people and violate their human rights.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

As an Iranian, I am very well aware of the devastating consequences of US sanctions on my people. I chose this area of study because the voices of sanctioned populations rarely make it to the media, and they are often systemically ignored in larger political games.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

My time in CHSS has been a very eye-opening one and allowed me to explore issues of international significance through both an individual and global perspective. This experience gave me great insight into the inner workings of international decision-making. It also taught me how to be open-minded in my approach to conflict resolution: rarely is reality black and white; compromise means being able to meet in the middle while staying true to one's principles and values.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

I am most proud of my research and the opportunity I had to add my voice as an Iranian-American Muslim woman to the field of global affairs. I am also proud of being able to share my research and knowledge as a TA and RA with undergraduate students taking their first global affairs course. Above all, I am proud that I advocated for the rights and voices of oppressed populations around the world during my time at CHSS: the Palestinians, the Uyghur Muslims, the people of Yemen, Syrian and Afghan refugees, and the indigenous peoples.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

I took a Global Middle East class with Professor Yasemin Ipek and she quickly became one the most valuable and inspiring individuals in my life. Aside from benefitting greatly from her knowledge, I came to respect her conduct and open-mindedness as an instructor who was able to bring such diverse perspectives into her classroom. Her mannerism encouraged me to be vocal about my views and unapologetically express myself. I was honored to have the opportunity to TA her class this semester, and I will forever cherish what I learned from her as a professor and as a friend.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

My greatest advice is to choose 1-3 major themes or countries (for me it was Iran and Palestine) on which to focus all your graduate school assignments. This comes to be of greatest use toward the end of graduate school when you need a significant amount of research on a given topic. If you have already focused your assignments and research on a specific theme, you will already have conducted a great deal of writing and research, and acquired personal knowledge on that topic, which will save you time (and stress)!

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I am currently looking to apply for Ph.D. programs and hope to continue my research passions in the meantime. Considering that my undergraduate background is in journalism, I plan to further my career in journalistic research with my graduate school specialization in global conflict and security. I will also be starting a podcast soon!