F&M Stories

Mary Fouad ’24 Discovered Her Purpose While Studying Abroad

Mary Fouad ’24 is a recipient of the Class of 1982 Endowed Scholarship Fund. 

Mary Fouad ’24 had no idea that studying abroad in Italy in an unfamiliar culture would present familiar connections to her cherished Egyptian heritage. 

While in Rome, Fouad’s field studies led her to a refugee shelter, where she encountered Arabic influences in music, hand-drawn murals and inspiring stories of resilience from Middle Eastern refugees – many of whom were Egyptian children. 

“You could see the pain of these people on the walls and the strength that [it] takes them to keep going,” Fouad said. “And that’s the side of Rome I would not have gotten to see at all; even the geography of it is so hidden away from everything else that it’s otherworldly.” 

These marginalized voices kindled an unshakable sense of purpose within Fouad – inspiring her to take an F&M course focusing on the urban space and geographies and how those settings promote racial indifferences, inequality and status between casts. 

Mary Fouad '24

This experience cemented Fouad’s dedication to her major, moral psychology, which is part of the Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind program. Moral psychology piqued Fouad’s interest during her sophomore year. Already passionate about social dynamics and bias, she found herself involved in the Developing Moral Values Lab, which studies the development of morality in children. 

“I was really interested in social dynamics like racial perception, gender perceptions, stereotyping and bias from a psychological perspective,” Fouad said. “I got in contact with Professor [Josh] Rottman, who’s the head of the Developing Moral Values Lab, which I’ve been a part of ever since. I get to look at how children develop morality. Right now, we’re doing a study on speciesism and how children view the value of animals that are close to us, like pets versus strangers.” 

Fouad has also undertaken significant responsibilities within the lab, including assisting with the ongoing development of a lab study, serving as a lab teaching assistant for Psych 100 and conducting tutoring sessions for fellow students. 

As the first in her family to navigate the American higher education system after emigrating from Egypt to New Jersey, financial aid assistance was crucial in her decision to enroll at F&M. 

“I am an immigrant, and without the financial aid provided by F&M, I would not have been able to go to a prestigious school with a good reputation and connections.” 

She attributes her own success at building connections at F&M to the relationships she has with faculty. 

“The relationships that I have made with F&M professors have been a huge part of my growth and access to resources that help fine tune skills necessary for any career,” Fouad shared. “The discussion-based classrooms offer an intimate environment that nurtures complex and critical thinking.” 

"Financial aid allowed me to study abroad and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences that inspire me to dedicate my career to doing good for the people often overlooked."

Mary Fouad '24

This year, Fouad has found a mentor in Assistant Professor of Anthropology Adeem Suhail, a notable figure in the field in which she is minoring. 

“He pushed me to be a better thinker, writer and a leader in the classroom,” Fouad said. 

Fouad says she values the liberal arts approach, which allows her to explore diverse fields without feeling pigeonholed into a specific career path. She views her college journey as a voyage of self-discovery with numerous routes to explore. 

Fouad’s involvement on campus extends beyond the classroom. She’s part of F&M’s K-pop dance group, Choomies, and says she enjoys opportunities to explore the musical activities her friends enjoy, such as orchestra and the a cappella genre. 

Fouad acknowledges that the pandemic disrupted her first year on campus, which made her determined to make the most of her remaining time at F&M. 

“I wasn’t here,” Fouad emphasized, “so this feels more like my junior year of college. I think that you create a different sentiment toward college. I missed a little bit of the college experiences as a full four-year student. This year, I’m consciously trying to make the most of it.” 

When thinking about her future, Fouad is leaning toward non-profit work, utilizing her research skills to tackle issues she is passionate about. 

“[My plans for the future may include] working for an non-governmental organization, non-profit or organization with a real mission to make tangible change,” she said. 

Fouad understands that donor support has been the key to unlocking many doors of opportunity. 

She summed it up like this: “Financial aid allowed me to study abroad and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences that inspire me to dedicate my career to doing good for the people often overlooked.”

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