I am a daughter of refugee settlers of Azeri and mixed Iranian and Persian heritage ("mixed" because there was a lot of non-/consensual miscegenation during colonialism and empire among a number of Indigenous, ethnic, and tribal peoples and groups), who arrived on Turtle Island in order to escape persecution and avoid further injustices they and their future children would have faced. Had my mother and father decided to stay, I would not have had the right to access higher education, so I am beyond grateful and humbled to be born in a place where I have the privilege and right to access higher education as both a student and an employee, ultimately leading me to arrive where I am now and where I continue to go.
My parents' religious identities as Bahá’ís living in Iran—the largest religious minority group in the country—was the government’s justification for their persecution, including later barring their access to all higher education institutions nationwide and basic rights all human beings deserve. My parents' experiences, along with countless others who were (and still are) denied such an opportunity in Iran and globally, heightened my awareness of and commitment to the need for justice and equity, for social transformation in the U.S. academy/higher education system and greater society, especially plans for the journey in pursuing formal higher education to advance justice.
My mother was raised to believe the social norms of her gender superseded the nurturing of her inherent intellectual capacity. Before access to higher education was systematically denied to Bahá’ís in all its implicit and explicit policies and laws, it took my father eight years to complete his bachelor’s degree, because he was only legally permitted to attend college in the evenings, segregated from his peers who identified with other religious affiliations. The unconditional sacrifices of my mother and father made me privy to pursuing formal educational degrees they were systematically denied access to. Being a first-generation U.S. "American" and the only member of my family with a doctoral degree, therefore, has been humbling for me in more ways than one, for which I am indebted. This is the context that frames my pull towards justice through higher education. It has never been an individual journey, but rather, an ever-evolving collective one.
Currently, I am an assistant professor of Education Studies at DePauw University on the traditional lands of the Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, and Shawnee Tribes and Nations (Greencastle, Indiana) and a research associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University on the traditional lands of the Khokhoi, San, and AmaXhosa (Port Elizabeth, South Africa). I study comparative higher education and knowledge systems, human rights, media, science and technology, and activism/social movements through an integration of critical justice-oriented frames globally and transnationally. I have a Ph.D. in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. My dissertation can be accessed here. But like many academic citizens, my heart and mind have evolved since then. Some work that is currently in progress and/or forthcoming can be found on the "Research" page of this site.
Living and working in one of the most linguistically, racially, and religiously segregated parts of South Africa, I have been exposed to diverse opportunities to translate my research and teaching into practice. Experiencing, observing, and studying disenfranchisement in several parts of the globe have likewise helped me better integrate critical and so-called “Global South” scholarship into traditionally Euro-American/“Western”/"Global North"-dominated disciplines, traditions, and methodologies in my research projects and courses I teach. My work in these areas have further expanded my understanding of how learned discrimination, prejudices, and other forms of injustice (in their various forms) migrate between and across countries.
As part of my global critical ethnic and race studies work, I also conducted investigative research for Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (who previously served as the first Independent Expert on Minority Issues). In addition, I consulted for Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an international non-governmental organization that has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).
When when not nerding out on justice-related academic inquiries, I play football (otherwise known as "soccer") and futsal (despite having five knee operations) and formerly played at the University of Irvine, California during my undergraduate years. I also write (and sometimes perform, when pressured to do so) spoken word and dabble in self-taught, novice graphic design; and as a lover of dance, oftentimes, I attempt to reenact dance routines from our hip hop and step dance crew days.