Shawheen Rezaei: Ibrahim Alumni 2015, Harvard University
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
In his own words:
Growing up as an Iranian-American, I had always been interested in learning about the
rich history and diverse cultures of the Middle East. The Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue
Program afforded me the once-in-the-lifetime experience of exploring how the region’s past has influenced its present state, and how both grassroots action and nation-wide trends will shape its future trajectory. Traveling to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Oman and the UAE with an amazing cohort of students from a variety of US universities, I had the unique opportunity to engage in important dialogue on a range of topics including politics, religion, history and negotiations.
It is without a doubt that the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program greatly
influenced the remainder of my university studies at Harvard. Coming back to campus energized from the experience, I decided to focus my academic pursuits on analyzing post-conflict development in the region. I took classes in Middle Eastern studies that eventually enabled me to receive a master’s in the subject, returned to the region several times for work and research, and completed an honors thesis inspired by the program. Looking back, my college experience was significantly shaped by the memories made and lessons learned through the Ibrahim Program.
The Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program has also influenced by career ambitions. Largely due to the time spent in the Middle East through the program, I have forged a strong affinity for the region that I hope to carry with me throughout my career. Thus far, I have used the background knowledge gained toward a range of professional pursuits, from working as an interpreter for refugee populations fleeing the region to assisting with research projects related to Middle Eastern law and conflict resolution. Moving forward, I hope to sustain my ties to the region and continue to take the Ibrahim experience with me throughout various phases of my professional endeavors.
Currently, I am pursuing premedical coursework and assisting with research on brain
disorders, while serving as a non-residential tutor at Harvard. It is my aim to practice medicine both in the US and in conflict areas in the Middle East and among refugee populations fleeing the region, and I hope to carry forward the knowledge gained about the region and conflict resolution through the Ibrahim program with me throughout these pursuits.