Embracing International Backgrounds: Leila Ghannad

Leila Ghannad recently joined the Meredith College community in July 2016 as the assistant director of international programs.

In her role as the assistant director and advisor for international students, she not only helps her advisees with questions about academic success and class requirements, but she also provides assistance with visa requirements and stays up-to-date on international policy changes and procedures.

Ghannad has an approachable and accepting demeanor, which she says she learned from her parents “because they accepted anyone that I brought home, regardless of race or gender identity, and that is what shaped me into having an acceptance of all views,” said Ghannad.

Ghannad has a wide range of experience with people from other cultures having lived in different places such as New York, North Carolina, Italy, Belgium, Tennessee, and Ohio.

From eighth grade to high school, Ghannad attended an international school in Belgium. “I never felt out of place, because every [student] was from somewhere different,” she said. While living in Belgium, there were limited English shows on TV so Ghannad grew a love for volcanoes to the extent of wanting to become a volcanologist after seeing a National Geographic special on volcano exploration.

In 2002, Ghannad attended Appalachian State University as a freshman with the dream of becoming a volcanologist. That dream quickly changed when she took a geology class – the first class towards her dream career. After dropping geology, she enrolled in American politics as part of her general education courses. Through that class, Ghannad was able to use her own international experiences to express her love for political science, especially when it came to debates and looking at the world and how it operates. That course made her fall in love with the subject and she chose to major in political science with a concentration in international and comparative politics.

After obtaining her undergraduate degree, Ghannad remained at Appalachian for graduate school, where she received a master’s degree in political science with a concentration in international and comparative politics along with a certificate in women’s studies.

Ghannad has used her degrees in many ways, allowing her to be well-versed in various cultures. She worked as a graduate assistant in the international education and development office at Appalachian and as a researcher and transcriber for a feminist documentary in New York City. She also worked with refugees within Sudanese communities in Nashville.

Her passion for working with students from diverse backgrounds developed during her time as a student advisor at Kent State University, followed by her role as an English as a Second Language (ESL) advisor for a community college in Asheville, N.C. Before arriving at Meredith, she served in the study abroad office at North Carolina State University as the coordinating advisor for Asia and the Middle East.

Ghannad’s professional experience is put to good use in her role at Meredith. “I saw the job here and I thought it was perfect because it was a great fit for me,” said Ghannad. “The [majority of my role consists of] working with international students, yet I am able to do marketing for big events within the study abroad program.”

She also knew that this was a perfect place for her because she is able to utilize her women’s studies certificate by empowering women every day.

By Yessy Anorve-Basoria, ’19

Melyssa Allen

News Director
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