Maryam Mohiedden Rad’s dissertation topic used to keep her up at night. “I was asking myself repeatedly: Are you sure you want to pick this topic? Do you really want to continue researching this topic?” she says. At this point in her academic career, Rad’s answer to these questions is an emphatic “yes.” She hopes her work helps illuminate the challenges and experiences Muslim women face as students on U.S. college campuses.
The doctoral student in UNLV’s Department of Teaching & Learning will present her research at the Oct. 21 Graduate Showcase, an event that highlights the research being done by some of the best and brightest graduate students from across campus.
Rad’s initial qualms stem from what she terms “the sensitive positionality of Muslims in today’s climate.”
Islamophobia in U.S. politics and media factored into how she approached the reasearch, Rad says. “Some of my participants prefer to keep their anonymity to save themselves from the potential repercussions from publishing my research.”
Perhaps because of this, Rad says, “It is definitely worth it to raise Muslims’ minority voices and put the spotlight on the challenges to raise awareness toward their needs. Therefore, I continued strongly and I do believe that [my research] is worth it and the results will pay off my efforts.”
Seeing Herself Here
Rad’s journey to UNLV is an unconventional and transnational one. Rad received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law in her home country of Iran where she was a practicing attorney in family court for three years. Through her legal consultations, she helped "women to recognize their legitimate rights in family lawsuits.”
When Rad decided to explore Ph.D. options abroad, she searched for a program that would serve her interests in gender, religion, and world cultures. Rad found the perfect match at UNLV where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Cultural Studies, International Education, & Multicultural Education (CSIEME). Rad calls the CSIEME program “undoubtedly one of a kind.”
“Pay attention to the name of the program, CSIEME,” Rad urges, “which is vocally read as ‘See me.’ Isn’t it beautiful? ‘See me’ simply conveys the message to the reader that each human is a unique, valuable being inside and should be seen, recognized, valued, and respected.”
For Rad, the program is the ideal environment for someone conducting research to amplify underrepresented voices. “The impact [of this research] is so imperative to mitigate the potential and existing challenges of Muslim students through reflecting on them in research and drawing specific attention to the needs of Muslim students that used to be compromised due to receiving lack of attention from policymakers,” she said.
Tapping Into Many Resources
Rad has ventured far beyond her home department and taken advantage of many resources that the university offers. She lists the Writing Center, licensure programs, the Graduate College’s writing boot camp, and the Graduate College’s research competitions such as Rebel Grad Slam and the upcoming Graduate Showcase as just some of the programs that have benefited her as a Ph.D. student at UNLV.
Grateful for her drastic shift in career and study, Rad concludes, “I believe the UNLV Graduate College is a gateway that graduate students pass to step into the trajectory of success. The UNLV Graduate College is a place where future professionals come to get inspired.”