Asma Noray, Arabic
Asma is an alum of the 2012 Arabic Summer Program in Rabat, Morocco. Asma has a bachelor's degree in Arabic and Political Science from Swarthmore College and a Master's degree in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan. Currently, Asma works for the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women.
Since completing NSLI-Y, Asma has continued her study of Arabic while pursuing a career in public service. Asma completed her bachelor’s degree in Arabic and Political Science at Swarthmore College. During college, Asma received a Critical Language Scholarship and a Boren Scholarship to continue language study in Oman and Jordan. After discovering her interest in public service through her mentors in NSLI-Y and CLS, Asma was awarded a highly competitive Truman Scholarship. Through this scholarship, she received a graduate school scholarship and professional development programming to prepare for a career in public service. Asma completed a master’s degree in Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, where she focused primarily on modern Arabic literature.
While Asma was initially interested in a career in the Foreign Service, the Boren alumni network exposed her to a myriad of domestic opportunities to serve in the federal government. She began her public service career with the Department of Homeland Security, where she worked on preventing domestic terrorism, mass shootings, and hate crimes. Asma has now transitioned to the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, where she works on a grant program addressing domestic violence and sexual assault throughout the U.S.
While her language abilities are not a requirement for her current job, Asma finds that her Arabic skills and cultural competencies have proven helpful when connecting with her grantees and other professionals in the field. For example, she recently began working on a grant that will address domestic violence and sexual assault within Middle Eastern and North African communities in the United States. Asma believes that her language skills and cultural awareness of the region will be an asset in this work, developing culturally relevant resources to address domestic violence and positive working relationships between the government and the local communities. During her first position in the federal government, Asma was initially surprised by the number of opportunities there were to apply her skills and knowledge to make a difference domestically. She also found that there were many federal agencies that she had never heard of before, working on innovative ways to collaborate with local communities on complex issues.
She encourages those interested in public service to not limit themselves, but to branch out to new agencies, consider both domestic and international opportunities, and learn about new topics and regions. She encourages alumni to be open-minded and proactive about the opportunities that are presented, as more doors will continue to open for you over time and with more experience. Asma also notes that even in positions that may not be explicitly linguistically or internationally focused, there are still plenty of ways to use language skills creatively or even learn a new language.