SF State News {University Communications}

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Fulbright winner heads for the Middle East

June 19, 2009 -- Katrina Yeaw, who earned a master's degree in modern world history in May, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and another coveted scholarship to study the contributions of women in Islamic religious practices.

Photograph of Fulbright winner Katrina Yeaw in Cairo, Egypt

Fullbright scholarship winner Katrina Yeaw in Cairo, Egypt.

"Women in Syria have largely been neglected in historical and social science literature on women in the Middle East," said Yeaw. She added that she hopes her scholarly contributions will challenge the stereotypes and one-dimensional caricatures of both American women in the Middle East and of Muslim women in the United States. Upon completion of her Fulbright studies, Yeaw plans to pursue a doctorate in Middle Eastern history and teach at the college level.

Yeaw's fascination with Muslim societies and her interest in the role of Islamic women in religion began when she met women from the Middle East whose lives and manner contradicted what Yeaw had learned from western media. After taking up Arabic in addition to her history studies at SF State, Yeaw spent a month in Damascus, Syria during the 2008-2009 winter recess.

"One day Katrina will make a first class scholar," said Associate Professor of History Maziar Behrooz, who with Assistant Professor of History Chris Chekuri supported Yeaw's Fulbright application. "She is intellectual by nature, hard working and creative in her work."

In addition to the Fulbright, Yeaw was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship sponsored by U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The first SF State student to receive this coveted award, Yeaw competed with 112 applicants for 20 grants in her region of study and is applying this award to intensive Arabic study this summer in Damascus. She begins her Fulbright scholarship at the University of Damascus in September.

The Fulbright international exchange program is supported by an appropriation from the U.S. Congress and partner nations. Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and of other countries, it promotes leadership development through scholarship and international cooperation. Participants are selected for their academic merit and leadership potential.

In the past 15 years, SF State students have won eight full-grant Fulbright scholarships and six Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.

-- Denize Springer


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