Facts about your family:
We’re from all over. My mom was born in Kenya and my dad in Tanzania. My brother and I were born in Canada and we lived in the Ivory Coast for a few years. We stick together beautifully.
Why did you choose to attend The University of Texas at Austin?
It was quite literally a coin-toss. I actually tossed a coin, but when the other university came out on top I kept extending the game so that it was the best-of-three or the best-of-five. That’s how I knew I wanted to come to Texas.
What do you want to do when you graduate from the university?
Some journalism and some family law reform in the Middle East. One day I’m going to open up a for-profit library attached to a Lebanese bakery and sweet shop.
If you had to choose one thing about yourself to share with the university’s Web audience, what would it be?
I make a lot of plans and lists.
Who are your heroes?
James Madison, Barbara Jordan and my mother.
If you could travel to one spot anywhere in the world, where would you want to visit?
I’m sorry; I can’t actually answer this question. I’ve been staring at it for almost ten minutes now and every time I write something down, I change it immediately thereafter.
What are your current favorite books? What books would you recommend to someone you just met?
“Anne of Green Gables” basically made me who I am. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. Also “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “States and Women’s Rights,” “Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes” and “Ghost Wars.” I don’t think I can give a blanket recommendation of something as dear to my heart as books.
What pushes your buttons? What are your pet peeves?
Moldy clementines, bad syntax, the imposition of cultural values on others, abstinence-only sexual education and illogical arguments.
What are your favorite Web sites? Why?
I like the commentary on Feministing, Balkinization and the Foreign Policy blogs. As far as news goes, I check Al Jazeera English and the BBC daily. Occasionally I stumble across other sites that interest me. Recently I’ve really liked wn.com, but for the most part I peruse news and news blogs every morning to make sure that no nation fell apart while I was sleeping. I also love smittenkitchen.com where I can indulge in food fantasies via the amazing photography and pretend that I’m capable of cooking.
What are your favorite foods?
Pomegranates, guacamole, crème brulee, chipotle anything and nutella.
What music are you listening to?
Nothing currently because I fell into a pool the other day while texting, and though my phone survived, my iPod did not. I think the last thing on it was Stanford’s Human Rights Lecture Series from iTunes U, or maybe John Mayer.
What are your all-time favorite movies? Why?
“Chocolat,” “Madagascar 2” and “Man on Fire.” They’re not exactly cultural icons, but they all affected me. “Chocolat” inspired my current ideas of womanhood, King Julian from “Madagascar 2” is the most hilarious character I’ve ever seen, and I cry every time I watch “Man on Fire.” It’s that end scene where Dakota Fanning starts running toward Denzel Washington.
Who are your favorite artists?
Richard Avedon and Susan Sontag.
What are your favorite academic subjects? What are you interested in studying in the future?
If I could, I’d study almost everything. I love philosophy and neuroscience, Middle Eastern studies, women’s and gender studies, psychology and journalism of all sorts. Eventually I want to go to law school and work with family law reform in the Middle East.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The architecture study lounge and the steps of the Main Mall.
Where are your favorite places to go in Austin? What are your favorite things to do in Austin?
What are your favorite things to do in Austin? I like the lot of trailer-park restaurants on South 1st, I love Zilker Park on its quiet days, and I don’t go more than a week without a cinnamon roll from Upper Crust Bakery.
What are your favorite free-time activities?
Reading, writing, shooting photos and gravitating toward color.
Other interesting facts about you:
I wish we could live in a pure meritocracy, but that is just not so. I also wish I had an existence replete with J. Crew, but neither is that so. One thing that will always be so is my unbelievable nerdiness. I was completely overjoyed when I took the “Which Founding Father Are You?” quiz on Constitution Day and realized that I am, indeed, James Madison.