Graduate Student Connects U of A and Egyptian Students to Discuss Occupational Therapy

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Mariam Mostafa never planned to study in the United States, but that changed after she visited the U of A in 2017 as a short-term Fulbright Scholar.

"At that time, I had my acceptance letter and my heart set on the University of Stockholm Sweden," she said. "However, the people and the weather here in Fayetteville won me over."

Mostafa, from Cairo, Egypt, ultimately decided to apply to the U of A's higher education doctoral program and returned in 2018 to begin her studies. She's also a graduate assistant this semester in the Occupational Therapy doctoral program and co-teaches Introduction to Research to first-year students along with the program director, Sherry Muir. Mostafa recently arranged for several of the first-year U of A students to connect virtually with Egyptian students interested in learning more about the occupational therapy profession.

"The objective was for [U of A] students to promote OT and to have a small-scale, cross-cultural experience to develop awareness about dealing with people from different populations," she said. "The awareness of the other is an asset for them as OTs or researchers. It was a rewarding experience and the feedback I received from them and from teachers in Egypt was very positive."

Mostafa earned a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, with a linguistics minor, from Cairo University, in 2011. In 2015, she graduated with a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from the American University in Cairo. 

Mostafa taught at the college level in Egypt for eight years before moving to Fayetteville. She taught academic English and study skills, critical thinking, research, and communication and presentation skills to students of different majors.

She’s helping introduce the terminology, types, designs and components of research to U of A first-year occupational therapy students. They're also learning about the ethical concerns that come with recruiting human participants. Mostafa is also working with students on writing mini literature reviews, documents to clarify how their research will complement and expound upon previous works.

As far as her own research, Mostafa is currently in the proposal-writing phase of her dissertation. She's conducting a qualitative study on the experience of Arab female students who moved to the U.S. for the main purpose of attending college.

Mostafa's interest in research and education has led to a love for travel. And new roads lead to new people, who are the ultimate destination. "People intrigue me," she said. "Everything about them. Their behaviors, beliefs, emotions, auras, foods."

Each interaction is mutually beneficial, she said. You teach and learn something each time.

After earning her Ph.D. in higher education, Mostafa plans to return home and pursue an administrative career that also allows her to teach. "I will teach and reform," she said. "A few years from now, I see myself as the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education."

This story is the latest in a series called the Dean's Spotlight, featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP's online magazine, the Colleague, for more news from the six units that make up the College. Visit the Higher Education or Occupational Therapy doctoral pages for more information on either graduate program.


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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