Professor Feryal Cherif Named Outstanding Faculty Advisor
Professor Feryal Cherif wears many hats, as the saying goes. She is an associate professor of political science and international relations and director of the international relations program. In addition, she serves as a faculty advisor, providing assistance and support to BCLA students. It is the way Professor Cherif is able to excel at balancing her professorial, directorial, and advising responsibilities that led the BCLA Student Engagement & Success Committee to recognize her with the inaugural BCLA Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award for the 2021-22 academic year.
Professor Cherif began her studies in political science during her undergraduate years. “During my junior year, I studied abroad in Egypt,” Cherif said. Her interests were piqued by the civil conflict in Algeria during the Black Decade, which received surprisingly low coverage in international media. She recalled, “It changed everything for me. After studying abroad, I could not stop reading about international politics and mainly foreign policy.” Following this passion, Cherif pursued postgraduate studies in political science and international relations. “Today I have become much more interested in questions that examine how, where, and why social change transpires or why some issues are seemingly resistant to change,” she explained. She remains passionate about what she teaches and truly enjoys watching students find joy in learning and discovery: “I like teaching first year students, because they have an unparalleled excitement. It brings a different dynamic to the classroom, and frankly, it makes me smile.”
Throughout her education, Professor Cherif had many experiences that would inspire her later work as an advisor. She said, “I was very lucky to find a mentor at each stage of my educational development.” Cherif credits Professors David Lake and George Downs for helping her along in her educational journey. As she came into her own role as an educator, she looked to emulate their work as “brilliant intellectuals and amazing advisors.” In her classes, Professor Cherif is deliberate about how she engages and works directly with students. “I love teaching my seminar, because as a small class, I have the opportunity to work 1:1 with students to develop their ideas,” she said.
Professor Cherif’s role as an advisor enables her to cultivate and strengthen her relationships with students. “In general, I think that coming to office hours or following up with a professor after class are the best ways to develop a relationship with faculty,” she said. “In either context, we are speaking because you need help, clarification, or advice with something, or you are really passionate about a topic and want to speak about it more. Most faculty want to help, and this becomes the entry point for a longer conversation and building a relationship.” While this is especially true at LMU, Professor Cherif stands out for her dedication; earning her the respect of her peers and the admiration of her students.
She is always ready and willing to impart valuable advice, supporting students wherever they are in their academic journey. “I love seeing my students’ faces when something clicks and my favorite part of advising is when a student leaves my office happy because they have found the perfect classes for the next term, figured out what they want to accomplish at LMU or post-grad, or simply identified a topic for their class paper. Cherif’s best advice for all students: “Sit down and think about what you really want and where you ultimately want to end up. Develop a step-by-step plan of how to get there. Your plan will likely change along the way, but knowing that you need to reach certain goal posts will keep you on track.”