Mentor Bios

Abdulla Jastaniah

Hey! My name is Abdulla Jastaniah. I’m a rising second year, also on the pre-med track (I know), with an intended major in biology. I’m one of the first year representatives on the Middle Eastern Leadership Council, and I volunteer with Musicians on Call, playing guitar in the lobby of the cancer center. I’m half Saudi Arabian, and half Palestinian, and I speak both Arabic and English. I grew up in Georgia, but spent most of my life in northern Virginia, where I’m from. I love playing the guitar, writing, and making great puns (seriously). I love going to new places, eating a lot of food, and telling stories. My first year was made a lot easier because of my mentor, and I hope that I can have the same effect in welcoming the Middle Eastern community at UVA. I’m super excited to meet all of you! Let’s hang out :)

Adrianna Taweel

Hey! I’m Adrianna, a rising second year, and I’m on the pre-medical track (as of now). For now, I’m thinking of majoring in Middle Eastern studies and minoring in bioethics. I’m 100% Palestinian and my favorite part about being Palestinian is the food! I am a first year representative on the Middle Eastern Leadership Council, the assistant sound designer for First Year Players (which is a theater group on grounds), and am a part of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. In my spare time, I love watching Netflix, reading rando teen novels (Not my most redeeming quality…) , and just chilling! I like all types of music and am constantly jamming out to anything on my iPod. I love to run and actually just ran my first 5k.. so if you need a gym buddy, I’m here for you! I’m a goof and LOVE getting to know new people and their passions, unique qualities, and life goals. I can’t wait to get to know my mentee and eat food, laugh, and talk together!! Have a fabulous summer break and I can’t wait to get to know you!

Ali Amirghassemi

Greetings, and welcome the the University of VIrginia! These years are sure to be some of the most enjoyable of your life, and you’ve made a great beginning to them by joining MEMP. I’m currently a rising Third-Year majoring in Global Development Studies. As an Iranian-American, I view the role of Middle Easterners in America very seriously. I feel that all of us have a common responsibility to disuage some of the negative stereotypes of simple misconceptions the general public harbors towards Middle Eastern culture. Moreover, I welcome non-Middle Easterns with equally open arms. In order for opinions to change, some non-Middle Easterns must take interest in our culture. I appreciate anyone who is open to learning more about the Middle East. In terms of a career, I hope to one day become an academic of Middle Eastern history or bridge the gap between intellectuals and policy makers in through a government job. Aside from academics, I try not to take myself to seriously. I enjoy discusing history and politics, listening to underground rap and hiphop, model railroading, hat-collecting, and anything vintage. If you’ve read this and remain unconvinced that you’d get along with me, message me at If you’re open enough, I can identify with pretty much anyone.

Anousheh Bakhti-Suroosh

Hey guys! I’m Anousheh, a rising second year, double majoring in Cognitive Neuroscience and Philosophy and minoring in Religious Studies, concentrating in Buddhism. I am only half-Iranian but I’m very passionate about my Middle Eastern background. My other half is mostly German, giving me a unique view of both Middle Eastern and Western cultures. I mostly enjoy organizing events for the Donate Life club encouraging organ donation, participating in the Society for Cognitive Science and working as a research assistant in a neuroscience lab. In my free time I watch a lot (way too much in fact) Netflix such as Archer and Prison Break, at the moment. I’m listening to music literally whenever I can and I find music festivals to definitely be among the greatest joys in life, along with the day long road trips with friends that can accompany them. Finally, I love waitressing as you get to talk casually with complete strangers (and of course tips are always nice). I’m looking forward to getting to know the quirks and passions of my mentee as we hang out and relax this upcoming year! Enjoy your summer break and I’ll be seeing you soon!

Arsalan Bhatti

Hello and welcome to the University of Virginia! I am Arsalan Bhatti, a rising fourth year. I am majoring in Biochemistry and planning to attend dental school. I am from Woodbridge, which is in Northern Virginia. I have lived most of my life here but I was born in Pakistan and can speak Urdu. I am involved in the Muslim Student Association, Wind Ensemble (I play percussion), and the pre-dental society. I also volunteer at the Charlottesville Free Clinic, specifically in the dental department. Most of my free time is spent playing basketball, sleeping or hanging out with friends. I also really enjoy going to the UVa sports events, especially the basketball games. GO HOOS! When the weather is nice, I like to go on hikes or spend time outside and appreciate nature. I know from experience that first year can be tough, but with some guidance, it will fly by and be your most memorable year. I want to help ease the transition and pass on what I have learned at my time at UVa. I look forward to meeting you all this upcoming fall semester! If you have any questions contact me at

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed in the things you did not do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

Ayesha Arshad


My name is Ayesha Arshad and I am fourth year double majoring in Public Policy and Economics.  I was born and raised in Alexandria, Va…whooo go NOVA, but both my parents are originally from Pakistan. I love playing sports like volleyball and basketball, eating different cuisines, shopping, baking, binge watching TV shows and being sarcastic. I am a pretty loud person once you get to know me and I am always down to try something new.  I was part of the MEMP Exec Board last year and I am also involved in other organizations at UVa including Spread the Love, Madison House,  and Batten Undergrad Council. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions:)

Bayan Mahgoub

Hey guys, welcome to UVa! My name is Bayan Mahgoub and I’m a rising second year in the College. I’m still undeclared but planning on majoring in Biochemistry and possibly minoring/double majoring in Psychology. I was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia but my parents are originally sudanese. We moved to America when I was 5, and I’ve lived in Virginia ever since. I speak french and some arabic. I enjoy participating in extracurriculars that distract me from my obsession with netflix. I’m a member of the archery club, unicef and of course MEMP. I also enjoy both watching and playing sports, especially tennis, lacrosse and basketball. Reading is another thing I like to do in my downtime, and I’m addicted to ice cream. I loved having a mentor my first year because it really helped me transition into college & it was nice having someone to talk to outside of my friends.I’m really talkative and love meeting new people so I’m very excited to be a mentor this year! Hit me up if you have any questions or just want to talk:

Donia Attia

Hey guys and welcome to the lovely University of Virginia! My name is Donia Attia and I am a fourth year double majoring in Biology and Middle Eastern Studies (stark contrast there). I was born and raised in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, a suburb right outside of Philadelphia but my parents are both Egyptian. In my free time, I like to sketch, sing, play the piano, and go nature walking. I love everything about music and find myself constantly looking for new bands to listen to. I also love yoga, belly dancing, and going skiing in the wintertime. I was on the MEMP Executive Board this past year after having the amazing experience of being a mentee my first year and a mentor my second year! I am also involved in various other activities around grounds, including Madison House, the Arab Student Organization, and Peer Teaching for the Biology Department. I am super excited to meet all of you and if you have any questions please feel free to email me at :).

Emilie Korban

Hi guys! I’m Emilie Korban. I am going to be a fourth year majoring in Foreign Affairs with a possible double major in History. I am Lebanese, so I am involved in Lebanese Club and Arab Student Organization. I also volunteer with Adopt-A-Grandparent through Madison House. I love reading, watching TV and Starbursts.


Hanan Yazid

Ahlan wa sahlan, fellow Hoos! Welcome to the best place on Earth, the University of Virginia! My name is Hanan Yazid, and I am so pumped to meet you all! I am a rising fourth year (how time flies!) double majoring in Foreign Affairs and Women’s Studies. I am a proud Yemeni, born in Yemen and lived there until the age of eight. I then moved to Egypt and lived there for 6 years! My last destination was Fairfax, Virginia, the place I called home for the past four years prior to coming to UVA (my new beloved home)! My native language is Arabic, so if you ever feel like speaking or practicing the language, you know who to go to! I transferred to UVA my third year, and by far it was the best decision I have made in my life! I love everything about this place and soon you will too! Outside of the classroom, I am involved in a handful of organizations around grounds including the Muslim Student Association, Arab Student Organization, Sustained Dialogue, Self and Group Identity Dialogue Across Grounds, Relay For Life, International Relations Organization, and Colligate Model UN. I also LOVE meeting new people, trying new things, capturing great moments (photography), and going to nice places to eat. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to shoot me an email at Get ready to experience the greatest four years of your life at this wonderful place! I look forward to meeting all of you and making your transition a smooth one! WAHOOWA!!!

Kareema Nahavandi

Hi guys, Im Kareema. Im a rising second year majoring in Biomedical Engineering unless I change my mind again. I was born in New Jersey but I’ve lived in northern virginia for most of my life. My parents are from lebanon and egypt so my house is kind of like a mini portal to the middleast right in the middle of Vienna! I love playing soccer and take part in IM soccer when I am not at clark (library), my second home.  Im excited to meet you all and help make your first year at uva AWESOME.

Maha Hassan

Marhaba, and welcome to UVA! My name is Maha Hassan and I am a rising third year. I am majoring in Global Public Health with a minor in French.  I am originally from Sudan, but I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. I love learning about my Sudanese roots and Middle Eastern background so I am involved with the Arab Student Organization at the university. On grounds, I am also involved with Alternative Spring Break and the Global Development Organization. I love traveling, running, music, and food. Transitioning into college was a lot easier than expected because of my mentor and the welcoming Middle Eastern community at UVA, so I hope to make your transition even easier than mine was!

Mariam Yaktieen

Hey! I’m Mariam Yaktieen and I’m a rising fourth year here at UVA! I’m studying Biology and hoping to purse a career as a Physician Assistant one day! I was born in Tennessee, lived in South Carolina, then Virginia, then California, then back to Virginia but I am originally from Egypt, AKA: African, Middle Eastern, Arab, you take your pick. I am currently a member of the Arab Student Organization Exec and hope to continue that during my last year. I am also a Transfer Student Peer Advisor and a member of Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine. I really enjoy cooking (mostly baking), watching Parks and Recreation, and spending genuine time with my friends and family. Fun fact, my full name translated into English is technically “Mary the thankful pumpkin”. I whole-heartedly love getting to know new people and expanding my awareness of life through others’ stories so I can’t wait to meet all of you this upcoming semester!

Michael Goolsby

Hey! I’m Michael Goolsby from good old Mechanicsville, Virginia just north of the capital Richmond. I’m am a rising fourth year here at Thomas Jefferson’s Grand Institution. Although I happen to be your average white American I am absolutely in love with Middle Eastern culture, languages and of course the people.  I am currently majoring in the Arabic equivalent here at UVa along with Religious studies with a primary focus on Islam.  I would like to consider myself quite familiar with Arab and Middle Eastern culture, having been to Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Tunisia and Turkey. I spent two months in Jordan studying Arabic and gained much respect for Middle Eastern hospitiality, and I want to reflect this hospitality I have received.  There is nothing like some Middle Eastern hospitality!  I hope one day to live in the Middle East somewhere simply because of my affinity for the culture and loving people.

Mohammed Shafi

“Hello. My name is Mohammed. Mohammed ShaVi. People call me ShaVi. You want a chocolate?” (If you don’t know what I am talking about by now, you should go and watch the greatest movie of all time, aka Forrest Gump.) I am a proud rising-fourth-year cavalier, majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Business and 9gags. Upon leaving my home country, Saudi Arabia, three year ago, my mother told me that life’s a box of chocolate and you never know what you are going to get. UVa happened to be the sweetest, and the most awesome kind of chocolate that I have ever tasted. In spite the fact that I spent more time in Clark Library than in my room, every day in my UVA experience was a unique adventure that I absolutely loved and enjoyed. This is one of the main reasons I joined MEMP as a mentor; I want our amazing first years to know how great and awesome UVa is. There are hundreds of opportunities here to build up your personality and gain knowledge, confidence, and experience. You just need to take the first step, and we are here to help you take this step. Some random facts about me is that I had the honor to sit on the bench on which Forrest Gump tells his story!  I am not joking! Check my facebook for details. I also LOVE running barefoot in the rain. Always remember that if you want to talk about your social life at UVa, your classes, philosophy, science, politics, history, or life in general, I am always there to provide help and guidance.

Always remember that if you want to talk about your social life at UVa, your classes, philosophy, science, politics, history, or life in general, I am always there to provide help and guidance.

Get excited for your first year! UVa is awesome and I am sure that you will love it.

Nik Padmanabhan

Hey guys! My name is Nik Padmanabhan and I am a rising second-year from McLean, Virginia. I’m in the Engineering School, and I’m planning on declaring Biomedical Engineering as my major. I am half Lebanese, and have visited the Middle East multiple times. I am a part of the Club Tennis team, Ski and Snowboard team, UVA Wind Ensemble, and I enjoy taking part in pretty much any intramural sport. I think that Middle Eastern food is absolutely delicious, and I look forward to eating more of it this coming year.

Omar Yousef

Hey everyone my name is Omar Yousef and I am going to be a third year majoring in economics and possible double majoring in foreign affairs. I am originally Palestinian and I try to stay involved with Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine, and Arab Student Organization. I really enjoy playing sports, watching cool documentaries, and just hanging out in general.


Paige Sullivan

Hey Guys! My name is Paige Sullivan and I am a rising Third-Year. I am majoring in Leadership and Public Policy in the Batten School. I currently involved with Persian Cultural Society and Global Student Council. I transferred here as a Second-Year from Holy Cross in Massachusetts. My hometown is Fall River, Massachusetts. If anyone has any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at I look forward to meeting all of you new Wahoo’s!

Philip Saba

Hey everyone! My name is Philip Saba and I’m a rising second year from McLean, VA.




Saba Chinian

Hey guys! First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to UVA! You’re joining the best community of people there ever was and I, from the bottom of my heart, am so excited to meet you all. My name is Saba Chinian and I’m a rising third-year majoring in Public Policy in the Batten School from the Commonwealth of NoVA. I have been part of MEMP since my first year and was a mentor myself this year. As a loud and proud Iranian-American, I’ve been part of the Persian Cultural Society (PCS) since my first year as well. I served on the executive board as Cultural Chair during my second year and will be the Vice President of the organization during my third year. I am also a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society and a Production Manager for a publication called The Declaration. Middle Eastern culture has been an enormous and fascinating part of my life. My parents were both born and raised in Iran, and I was largely raised around Middle Eastern culture, language, and history. Participating in Middle Eastern organizations at UVA such as MEMP, MELC, and PCS has been the perfect way to for me to express that culture and learn so much more about it as well! Discussing and learning about Middle-Eastern culture is probably my favorite pastime, and I’m incredibly excited to meet you all and give you all some of my oh-so sage advice. Get excited for your first year at UVA and WAHOOWA!

Spencer Mooney-Jones

Hi, I’m Spencer. I’m a second-year planning to declare an economics major when I finish the requirements to do so. I’m a quarter Persian, but really I’m learning just as much about the Middle East as anybody is. I don’t speak a word of Farsi beyond chai and mostafayr, but I love my grandmother’s cooking. At the University I’m not Greek; I spend time with the ski team (VASST), stock club (MII), Sailing Club, Persian Cultural Society (PCS, “come to Iran day”) and in the library (Alderman, Current Periodicals). I really enjoy good coffee, dumplings and bagels, so you and I will eat those things, together. I listen to some horrible music (Romanian pop (INNA)) and some great music (The Kinks). I like old books a bit, follow international affairs closely, and will want to disparage Mr. Putin with you. I’m not at the right in my picture.

Suliaman Boura

Hey everyone (and future mentees) my name is Suliaman Boura. I am going to be second year this upcoming semester and studying pre-med (typical Middle Eastern). So far I’m undecided about my major but plan on double majoring in biology and economics. Originally I’m from Afghanistan, since my parents were born there, but I was born in Pakistan and lived there until moving to the US. So I have a pretty diverse cultural background and can speak both Farsi and Urdu. Other then MEMP, I’m also involved with the MSA (Muslim Student Association) at UVA. In my free time I enjoy playing sports and going to UVA’s sporting events. Additionally I like to watch movies, tv shows (GOT and The Walking Dead), going to events on grounds, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing. For any mentee reading this, I look forward to meeting you this upcoming school year and enjoy your summer break!!

Talal Mohammad

Hi!  My name is Talal Mohammad, and I’m a rising fourth year in the College of Arts and Sciences.  I am a Biology major with a pre-med track, and I plan on studying Cardiology (I’m going to be in school forever!).   My parents are from Pakistan, and I am the youngest of five brothers.  I’ve lived in Virginia all my life and now I live in Warrenton, Virginia.  I love traveling (and Norway), photography, watching movies, playing games, going outdoors, and meeting up with friends.  I’m the Co-founder of Students for Stop Hunger Now, and I’ll be studying abroad in Nepal during Spring 2015!  I’m really excited, and if you let me know I can try to send postcards telling you all about it.  Helping people has always been my passion, and I’m always willing to lend a hand.  From firsthand experience, I know that your 1st year can be fun, exciting, confusing, and sometimes a little bit of everything.  When I first came to UVa, I had no clue about what I was doing.  I’m grateful that I had a mentor to go to for things such as choosing classes, managing workloads, adjusting from home, or just having lunch at Shea!  My mentor opened me up to the Middle Eastern community at UVa and that has had a lasting, positive impact on my undergraduate experience.  I hope that you can take advantage of this great opportunity, and you can contact me anytime at  Let me know if you ever need help, want a bite to eat, or just want to hang out.  I’m excited to meet you and I hope that you have a great first year experience!

Tara Shafiei

HEY FUTURE HOOS! Congrats, and welcome to UVA! My name is Tara Shafiei, and I’m a third year double majoring in Public Policy and Spanish with a minor in Women and Gender studies. I can’t wait to welcome you into the Middle Eastern community! It’s the absolute best…because we have the best food obviously! I’m from Iran, but grew up in northern Virginia. I love rugs, Persian cats  (MEOW), and kabobs (hehe). Next year I’ll be serving on exec boards for both Persian Cultural Society and the University Salsa Club! I’m involved in other awesome organizations on grounds such as Peer Health Educators and Outdoor Rec Club, and I’ll be the RA for the Spanish house if you ever want to stop by and we can make tacos (nomz )! On grounds you can find me salsa dancing, eating delicious foods, lounging around and pretending to do work in the libraries, or just hanging out! Come say hello! If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me at! WAHOOWA!

Yasmeen Nabhani
Hi, I’m Yasmeen Nabhani, a rising second year majoring in (hopefully) some type of engineering :) I was born in Washington DC and grew up in McLean, VA. I’m ethnically from three middle eastern countries, my mom is Egyptian and my dad is Palestinian and Lebanese. I speak Arabic and English and volunteer with the VISAS ESL program and I am a MELC Ambassador. I really enjoy singing and fashion and am easily distracted by cute things 😀 I really loved having a mentor my first year and can’t wait to meet you all and help make your first year awesome!

Mentor Bios 2013-2014
Mentor Bios 2012-2013