Winona Zaky

Winona Zaky

Winona Zaky

How did you choose your degree program?

I have always had a love for studying languages, so I started studying Arabic in high school and continued from then on. What I love about Arabic is that it is really not just one language - it's a multitude of languages, dialects and cultural ways of communicating. Since beginning my Arabic-learning journey, I have always strived to reach Arabic fluency, or at least a high degree of proficiency. To pair with that goal, I became interested in security and intelligence work, specifically research about terrorism trends, radicalization, and how I can use my Arabic language skills in the intelligence field.

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

My time at GMU and CHSS has been nothing short of inclusive and eye-opening. I transferred from the University of Maryland, took some time off school, but came to GMU and hit the ground running. My professors and peers have always made me feel prepared to tackle on academic challenges and think critically. Despite most of my time being virtual, I still feel that I made connections within the CHSS family.

What accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud of?

This past summer, I received the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from the U.S Department of State and studied Arabic in Tangier, Morocco. I participated in an intensive language and cultural immersion program, studying Arabic each day and experiencing the Moroccan culture through firsthand accounts. I am forever grateful for the cross-cultural competency skills and relationships I formed from this scholarship!

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

I want to give a shout-out to all of the Arabic professors whom I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my time at Mason: Dr. Nathaniel Greenberg, Dr. Mohammad Salama, Dr. Naglaa Hussein, Dr. Sayed Elsisi, and Professor John Samaha. They have each emphasized their passion for teaching Arabic in different disciplines and made me appreciate more how impactful language learning can be. Prior to their classes, I never thought I would study Arabic in the directions that I did, from translation, to Arab literature, to analyzing classical Islamic texts - their classes helped my Arabic advance to a level that I am very thankful for.

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

At this moment, I am applying for jobs after graduation. I hope to work in the field of security and intelligence, starting off with research or analyst roles. In terms of my long-term career goals, I would love to be an officer at the U.S Department of State or U.S Department of Homeland Security, working on counterterrorism policy or domestic/international extremist ideologies, through research and data collection. I would also love to travel again to an Arabic-speaking country to study the language and especially various dialects.