Near Eastern Studies held its first virtual Class Day on June 1, 2020. During the celebration the Department and Program announced departmental honors and presented this year’s prize winners. Following opening remarks by NES Chair M. Qasim Zaman, Director of Undergraduate Studies Jonathan Gribetz began the presentations. Samuel Prentice won the Bayard and Cleveland Dodge Memorial Thesis Prize and the T. Cuyler Young Award for Iranian Studies for his thesis, “Allegory and Representation in the Persianate Early Modern.” Sarah Gordon was awarded the Near Eastern Studies Department Prize for an Outstanding Senior Thesis for her thesis, “Governing before the Apocalypse: Ideological Flexibility in the Political Strategy of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” The Program in Near Eastern Studies Senior Thesis Prize was shared by Yasmin AlKhowaiter, whose thesis was titled “Western Fantasy, Ottoman Reality: Tourism in the Holy Land in the Nineteenth Century,” and Talia Anisfeld, whose thesis was titled “‘In the end, we’re neither here nor there, and yet we’re almost there’: Disidentification Among Ethiopian Jewish Israelis.” Grace Masback won the Department of Near Eastern Studies Prize for Best Junior Paper for her essay “Avraham Mayo’s Egypt in the Age of Exploration.” Language prizes were awarded by Senior Lecturer Nancy Coffin. Zachary Brampton won the Near Eastern Studies Senior Language Prize for Overall Achievement in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish, and Hannah Smalley won the Judith Laffan Memorial Prize for Outstanding Progress and Dedication to the Arabic Language. Department honors were also announced. Highest honors were awarded to Yousef Elzalabany, high honors were awarded to Sarah Gordon and Samuel Prentice, and honors were awarded Alaa Ghoneim.
Director of Graduate Studies Michael Cook announced the graduate prizes. The Bayard and Cleveland Dodge Memorial Prize for PhD Dissertation went to Jelena Radovanović for her dissertation, “Contested Legacy: Property in Transition to Nation-State in Post-Ottoman Niš,” and the Near Eastern Studies Department Prize for an Outstanding PhD Dissertation went to Cecilia Palombo for her dissertation “The Christian Clergy’s Islamic Local Government in Late Marwanid and Abbasid Egypt.”
In addition to departmental prizes, NES concentrators and certificate recipients also garnered university and outside honors, prizes, and fellowships. Concentrator Yousef Elzalabany was named a recipient of the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, one of Princeton University’s highest awards. Concentrator Sarah Gordon and Certificate in Near Eastern Studies recipient Avital Fried, both of whom also earned Certificates in Arabic Language and Literature, were elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest of all national honorary scholastic societies. Fried, a Philosophy concentrator, was awarded highest honors and won the Class of 1869 Prize in Ethics, the University Center for Human Values Senior Thesis Prize, and a Marshall Scholarship. Concentrator Alaa Ghoneim received a Fulbright Fellowship to Morocco. Certificate in Arabic Language and Culture recipient Meghan Slattery was one of ten winners of the 2020 Spirit of Princeton Award for service and contributions to campus life. Slattery also won the School of Engineering and Applied Science Tau Bet Pi Prize.
Doctor Jelena Radovanović was the recipient of a Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship, and Doctor Dana Lee won the Laurence S. Fellowship Graduate Prize Fellowship in the University Center for Human Values and the Centennial Fellowship.
The virtual Class Day Ceremony also featured live and videotaped tributes to the graduates by faculty advisors and mentors and videotaped contributions from the graduates, as well as a slideshow of images from the past year.