An education at Klein College of Media and Communication can take students far in any direction, and Zayne Amer, KLN '06, has truly gone the distance. The strategic and organizational communication graduate took a chance and began her post-undergraduate career in Egypt, where her work in higher education has since given her opportunities to travel and experience life in the Middle East. Since then, she has lived and taught in Iraq and is currently located in Oman.
Amer entered Temple University as a voice performance major at Boyer College of Music and Dance. However, she soon found that communication was a worthwhile endeavor that sparked her interest. With the goal of becoming a grant writer, she studied various kinds of communication at the university. One of her most influential experiences during her time at Temple was with Scott Gratson, director of the Communication Studies Program, and she says that his class was enough of a challenge to motivate her to stay the course in communication.
"I just remember going and just sitting in his office for hours, drinking coffee and just talking about politics and weird, random stuff and just keeping me engaged," Amer says. "He really kept me engaged, which was something very different."
"Zayne is adventurous personified," Gratson said in an email. "In my class, she would take on weighty and important topics, pushing herself to new academic territories."
After graduating, Amer worked jobs in the service industry but knew she wanted to continue her education. Making a personal decision that would give her more insight into her own identity as a half-Egyptian citizen, she decided to attend The American University in Cairo. She studied and taught English as a foreign language in the country while reconnecting with her family, and soon received her master's degree in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). Living in the area during the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was historic and meaningful,but she wanted to make an impact elsewhere. She decided on Iraq, where a multifaceted position at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, gave her the lifestyle boost she desired.
Acting as a higher education TEFL educator in Iraq presented an exciting way to interact with students. Although many of them were familiar with English, she took her obligation to teach seriously and encouraged students to learn as much as possible without her interference.
"I do occasionally translate a word to make things easier, but for the most part I work to help the students kind of...think around it and explain it in a different way. Because they can't continue to fall back on their first language because they'll probably be dealing with people who don't speak it. So they have to figure out ways to manage language without the language," Amer says.
Now in Oman, Amer still utilizes her TEFL experience but primarily serves as an assistant lecturer and an assessment unit member at Sultan Qaboos University, a major function of which is writing exam questions for students. Writing exams has introduced her to curriculum from a variety of subjects and has provided her with a new appreciation of university education.
Throughout all of Amer's positions, Gratson has kept in touch and has watched her grow more comfortable with her natural abilities.
"She left the United States to embark on a series of adventures throughout the Middle East. Her experiences in Egypt, Iran and now Oman are the stuff of novels. Her life has been a grand journey. I am envious of the sights that she has seen, and fully expect that her journeys—both personally and professionally—are only just beginning," Gratson said.
Amer's academic background and work experience help her carry out her duties as a foreign language instructor and an assessment unit member, and she hopes to continue her journey as an assessment writer by enrolling in a doctoral program in the subject. Her foundational studies at Klein were formative in her growth as an educator but all she had to do was tap into what she really wanted: to develop into an effective communicator.
"I think many of us at that age, we just kind of float towards...or gravitate toward something that seems a little bit natural," Amer says. "And it felt natural to me."