Out of a list of around 40 U.S. colleges, Meriem Hamioui ’25 chose to attend Gettysburg College due to its unique position in history and American politics. This choice came with a nine-hour trip from Hamioui’s home in Morocco to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
“I applied to a multitude of colleges in America, and I knew that what I wanted to study was not available in my country. I knew that if I wanted to study politics, what better place to come than America,” Hamioui said. “Gettysburg College was the best choice because it checked all of my boxes.”
Hamioui is a double major in international affairs and international political economy with minors in economics and political science. She is highly involved on campus and participates in numerous clubs and organizations, including Muslim Student Association, Religious and Spiritual Life, Gettysburg African Student Association, the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, and J-Street, the political organization for pro-peace, pro-democracy students.
The most transformative experiences that Hamioui has participated in at Gettysburg College are thanks to the Eisenhower Institute (EI).
“I participated in Foundations of Strategy and Leadership with Susan Eisenhower, and it really drew me to the other programs that are offered by EI,” Hamioui said. “So, in the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2023, I took part in Contours of the Middle East.”
In this program, students work with expert in Middle Eastern affairs Danny Sebright to investigate a range of socio-economic, political, and cultural developments that are transforming the Middle East region. The program concludes with an immersive and educational trip to the Middle East to speak with government officials and experience new cultural practices.
“I thought I was very culturally aware, but coming to Gettysburg and immersing myself in these programs has taught me that I don’t know as much as I thought,” Hamioui explained. “The program really reinforced that sense of cultural curiosity. It taught me that there isn’t just one type of ethnicity. Each person is different.”
Through the Contours of the Middle East program, Hamioui was able to develop a greater understanding of intercultural fluency, and this has strengthened her impact as a house leader for International House. She explained that she now better understands how to engage with and respect the various cultures that are represented in the house.
“It’s really fun to have a space where you get to see different cultures interact with one another,” Hamioui reflected. “You learn something new each day, even if it’s a little thing like, ‘Let’s watch this TV show from my hometown, or let’s celebrate Thanksgiving, an American tradition, and also celebrate Diwali, a Hindu tradition.’ That’s what International House is. It’s such a diverse and beautiful place.”
Aside from serving as a house leader, Hamioui is also a student assistant and social media manager for the Management Department; student assistant for the International and Global Studies Department; student assistant for the Political Science Department; and a program coordinator for the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life.
From the activities and jobs that she partakes in at Gettysburg College, Hamioui has gained enduring skills and a wealth of knowledge that have granted her unique internships. This past summer, Hamioui participated in EI’s Washington Summer Fellowship and got the opportunity to intern with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. In this position, Hamioui was able to conduct research on issues that she studied in her Gettysburg College courses and various EI programs.
“I got to work on a project with Coca-Cola where they wanted to complete an investment in Saudi Arabia surrounding women in sports,” Hamioui explained. “They needed someone who has knowledge about Islam and women in Saudi Arabia to write a research paper to see how we can adapt that kind of investment.”
Hamioui can picture herself continuing this work after graduation and credits EI’s Contours of the Middle East program for piquing her interest in this field.
“It was a very educational experience. I learned a lot during the program meetings on campus, but the trip topped it off. We got to see hands-on what we were learning and reading in articles,” Hamioui reflected. “I can honestly say that participating in that program was one of the best experiences of my entire life.”
Laken Franchetti ’24
Photos by Sofia Gutierrez ’26