No Buffaloing These Three

Earning high marks here are UW Diversity Post-Doc Fellows Alma Khasawnih, Yasi Naraghi and Quin’Nita Cobbins-Modica.

May 29, 2019
Dale Goodwin ('86)
Three unassuming big-city women, new to Spokane, were driving just minutes out of the city on a rural road when the sight before them stooped them in their tracks: startled, they marveled at the buffalo roaming in a field where Carnahan meets Glenrose. 

“It was very exciting for all of us because none of us had been that close to real-life buffalos before,” says English Fellow Yasi Naraghi, one of three University of Washington Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellows teaching at Gonzaga this year. “For me, who was born in Tehran and raised in big cities, this was quite a scene to behold.”

She and her fellow fellows, Alma Khasawnih, Communication Studies, and Quin'Nita Cobbins-Modica, History, had been enjoying a Thai lunch in the Spokane Valley before exploring Spokane’s south hill and discovering the Wild West practically in their backyard. 

They’ve adjusted pretty well to life in a smaller city, getting out and trying new things along the way. Former fellow Noralis Rodriguez-Coss, assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, grew up in Puerto Rico, came here as one of the first two post-doc fellows in 2017, and chose to stay. 

“These three fellows are right out of grad school so our students get a sense they understand them more,” says Ann Ostendorf, History, who co-directs the post-doc program with Jessica Maucione, English. “This is an invigorated post-doc program and our students who might be looking to go to grad school can see what it takes to make it to grad school and beyond (seeing the fellows in action). In addition, because all are asked to give research talks here, it reinvigorates the contemporary intellectual community of the university, having engaged in the most recent trends in their fields in higher education. Their job is to create new knowledge. This helps us a lot.”

The program began in 2017, founded by former Academic Vice President Patricia Killen, to introduce more diverse teachers to our classrooms. Since then, Gonzaga has employed seven fellows, with an eighth, Ulil Amri, arriving this fall. He will teach in Environmental and Religious Studies.  

The program also provides opportunity to expose these newly-minted educational doctors to the private college classroom and a wealth of mentoring from a giving GU faculty, Ostendorf says. All three are making positive impressions here, and will be back in the fall.  

[cut line] Earning high marks here are UW Diversity Post-Doc Fellows Alma Khasawnih, Yasi Naraghi and Quin’Nita Cobbins-Modica.