Into the Land of the Pyramids – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Into the Land of the Pyramids

Later this month, recent William Smith graduate, Cynthia Okerfelt ’08 will travel across the globe to attend the American University in Cairo (AUC), where she was accepted into a highly competitive and selective dual master’s program in Arabic Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. The American University in Cairo was founded in 1919 by Americans who devoted themselves to promoting education in the Middle East. Today, the university boasts students from all over the world who are attracted to the region’s rich historical and political history, as well as its liberal arts curriculum. Among its alums are two Pulitzer Prize winners and Egypt’s first lady, Suzanne Mubarak. The opportunity to pursue independent study in Arabic language studies was a huge factor in Okerfelt’s acceptance to such an elite program. “I credit the HWS Self-Instructional Language Program for allowing me to continue my Arabic language studies in college to the point that I can now attend graduate school for that language,” she says. “After I found out I had been accepted, Assistant Professor of Political Science Stacey Philbrick Yadav helped me a lot in sharing her experiences and enthusiasm about Egypt. She was one of the reasons I am so excited about my plans.” Okerfelt leaves for Egypt at the end of August and will be living in Zemalek, an urban up-scale area in downtown Cairo noted for its cosmopolitan population. She will undoubtedly benefit from studying at an institution which serves as a crossroads for the world’s cultures and promotes such a strong spirit of discussion and activism in its students. At HWS, she served as a community service program coordinator in the Latin American Organization for three years and was an advocate for the Finger Lakes Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. Okerfelt was also the recipient of the Elizabeth and Ruth Young Peace Award.