Meet a Roadrunner: Majed Hajj is creating opportunities for Iraqi refugees through research

Jared Cruz-Aedo

Majed Hajj

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(April 2, 2014) -- Meet Majed Hajj. Originally from Lebanon, he knows the difficulties that stem from immigrating to the United States, and plans to use his qualitative research to understand children going through the assimilation process.

Hajj is working on his doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies at UTSA, researching the learning experiences of Iraqi refugee students in the United States.

Hajj immigrated here in 2003 and completed his master's degree at UTSA in 2007. He now works alongside Michael Jennings, Curtis Brewer and Maricela Oliva in the College of Education and Human Development as a doctoral fellow.

Hajj has decided to use his research and personal experiences to learn more about a population that often is misunderstood and marginalized, he said.

Although the transition into the educational culture at UTSA was a fairly easy one for him after attending an American school in Beirut, Hajj acknowledges that cultural differences often make a similar transition for children much more difficult.

"The culture of school for the Iraqi children is very different and there is a shortage of teachers to accommodate the needs of these students," he said. "There's a multitude of research for other groups, but the Iraqi experience is unique."

He hopes his research will help others understand the Arab culture, and in turn help those students who are transitioning into American culture.

"UTSA is growing and it has a great future and I was thinking of the long-term when I decided to come back," he said. "Here at UTSA, the culture of the university is very supportive, diverse and welcoming."

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