Egbal Almahatwary graduated this spring with her M.A. in Religious Studies. For the last year, she's been taking classes, working on her thesis, and teaching in the department as a graduate teaching assistant. In this interview, we talk more with Egbal about her experiences in the M.A. program and her plans for the future.
Introduce yourself- name, where you’re from, educational background, area of interest.
My name is Egbal Almahatwary, and I am a Yemeni American. I live in Atlanta with my husband and children since 2008. I am an Arabic teacher and I have been teaching Arabic for more than a decade and a half.
What have you most enjoyed about teaching Religious Studies at GSU?
Teaching Religious Studies at GSU gave me the opportunity to learn about people and their beliefs and cultures. My students were critically engaged in various discussions, in which religion intersects with on-trend issues, and they formed a better understanding of their surroundings.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in the classroom (or online teaching)?
Despite the one-hour ride every morning, I really enjoyed teaching my students in person.
What are your favorite lectures or concepts to teach?
My favorite topic to teach is “reading and interpreting Sacred Scriptures.” The fact that the interpretations of sacred books vary over time makes the key to understanding one’s own religion and others’ religious beliefs.
What has been most memorable about your experience in the MA program?
The moment I successfully defended my thesis was memorable. I was happy to be done with the majority of my project.
What advice would you give to prospective students thinking about a degree in Religious Studies?
I came to the program as an Arabic teacher, and I graduated earning more knowledge about teaching because I took classes that would help me grow. Therefore, my advice to new students is to look for learning opportunities that match their needs while doing their MA work.
What are your plans after GSU?
I plan to go back to teaching Arabic. I also love learning, and I look forward to future opportunities to learn new things.
What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of school?
I love cooking and spending time outdoors with my family. I also like watching the sunrise. (See the pic I took of the sunrise in Daytona Beach, Fl).