Faculty spotlight on Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Amny Shuraydi
September 3, 2022
Enjoy the following Q&A with Prof. Shuraydi as she talks about her time on campus as a student and now as a faculty member.
(This Q&A was conducted by the Center for Arab American Studies, and first appeared in the September 2022 CAAS newsletter.)
Tell us a little about yourself!
This is my first year (week!) as a faculty member at UM-Dearborn, and I’ve returned to the university after completing my undergraduate degree here years ago. In graduate school, I completed an M.A. in Communications and Social Justice, and conducted a thesis that focused on the portrayal of Arab Americans in the media. My PhD is from the University of Texas at Dallas, where my dissertation focused on drug use, minor dealing, and identity among those of Arab descent. I have spent the last few years working as an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce, which is a school similar to UM-Dearborn in size and structure. During my time there, I served as the Master’s Coordinator for the fully online Applied Criminology program, and enjoyed working with a mix of primarily first generation, minority, and rural students. I enjoy teaching theory and justice-related classes, and my favorite type of research to conduct is primarily people and participant focused. I hope to continue that here. In my down time, I like to spend time with my family, watch old television shows, and do arts and crafts.
You are a UM-Dearborn alumna. What did you love about your time on campus, and what drew you back to join the campus as a faculty member?
I am thrilled to be back as a faculty member, and it’s something that I never would have expected back when I was a student here. My degree was actually in Communications, with a focus on what used to be called “JASS” (Journalism and Screen Studies). I loved that UM-Dearborn took the time to make the program interesting for students, but also that they cared about marketability on the job market—I always felt like my degree set me apart in terms of the knowledge that it came with; I had a much easier time in graduate school because UM-Dearborn helped equip me with what I needed at the undergraduate level that many other places don’t provide. My minor was in Sociology, and some of those classes overlapped with Criminology. That’s how I started on the path toward graduate school, and how I ultimately ended up back here.
What drew me to the campus as a faculty member were the same things that drew me in as a student—this campus is big enough to be able to have opportunities, meet a variety of people, and enjoy the feel of university life, yet small enough to feel inclusive. Students aren’t just numbers here, and faculty are able to relate to their students in ways that larger campuses may not be able to accommodate. I am also excited to be able to ultimately do research and work in the community, since it will allow me to give back to my hometown.
As a CAAS affiliate, how does your class intersect with the Arab American sphere?
My research tends to more actively and directly intersect with the Arab American sphere than my classes do. In research, I focus on a variety of issues and topics, making sure that Arabs and/or Muslims are represented. In criminology especially, studies that are inclusive of Arabs are rare. The lack of proper classification for the group means that they are often misrepresented or more difficult to differentiate than the way that other ethnic categories might be. In my classes, I try to incorporate my research when it’s relevant to the topic at hand. To a greater extent, I try to make class examples relevant to students and their lives. Having a larger number of Arab American students means also finding materials that are relatable to these students’ lives and within their communities. With that being said, I think it is important to also expose students to a variety of viewpoints that represent the heterogeneity of the various cultures on campus.
With the start of a new term underway, what are you most excited for/looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to a lot this school year! It is already off to a fast-paced start, and I’m really enjoying the opportunity to be busy in a way that doesn’t feel like “work” in the traditional sense. I am enjoying the class topics that I’ve been assigned, and am co-advising the Criminology and Criminal Justice Collective on campus. Short-term, I’m looking forward to finding my footing, perfecting my class preparations, and getting to know the students and employees at the university. In the broader scope of this year, I am excited to see what my students accomplish, and to getting more involved with CAAS and community outreach.