Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
College:College of Arts and Humanities
Degree Program:English MA, Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies Track
Research Focus:Literature and scriptotherapy across cultures
Growing up in a culturally diverse environment shaped how Nikky Suárez defines herself as a woman and an individual. As a Colombian American raised in Saudi Arabia, she gained a unique global perspective, learned to speak English, Spanish, and Arabic, and developed a profound cultural awareness that has helped her in many facets of life.
“My experiences in many cultures, traditions, and languages of the world have effectively defined me as a “third culture kid,” she says. “It taught me a hybrid approach to culture in which I absorbed certain cultural aspects or behaviors that I wanted to capture and integrate as part of my personal development.”
Suárez’s upbringing influenced her studies as well, driving her to empower women and bridge cultural gaps through literature. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Nova Southeastern University in 2019 before returning to the Middle East as a working professional, integrating into the Middle Eastern culture with a Western perspective. Understanding firsthand the challenges of forced bilingualism and wanted to help others adapt, she taught English to Arab speaking Elementary students while earning a Professional Teaching Diploma from Abu Dhabi University in 2020. She also earned a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing Style from Universidad Internacional de Valencia during the pandemic.
Fueled by a desire to continue her education abroad, Suárez decided to pursue her master’s degree in English: Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies, at UCF with Graduate Certificates in Gender Studies and Preparing Tomorrow’s Faculty. “My diverse perspectives within Middle Eastern and Latin American heritages brought a unique addition to the University of Central Florida, where I have been able to enhance my leadership skills by working with faculty members and other colleagues on innovative projects and cultural experiences,” she says. She is now the first woman in her family to earn a graduate degree, a feat that inspired her mother to follow in her footsteps as well.
Throughout her studies, Suárez conducted research inspired by her own experiences. Her thesis investigated the testimonies of three female authors from Latin America and the Middle East through scriptotherapy narratives, which “give voice to previously repressed memories.” Through the genre of autobiography, Suárez says women have an opportunity to showcase acts of resistance towards the inner turmoil of colonial trauma that has been brought upon their existence. With the comparative nature of this research, she focused on bridging the cultural and language components that are similar while still honoring their differences.
“I chose to get into my research because it resembles my life. In essence, it is my own story: I grew up in the Middle East but had Colombian roots yet didn’t quite resonate with the “American” nationality and what that meant due to the globalized and diverse manner I came to understand the world,” Suárez says. “I have always had a strong social justice fire within me that aimed at advocacy for women’s voices. This began with Saudi Arabian women and their lack of self-love and being treated as property of the man, but this expanded to my own culture. Even though it appeared that the Latin woman was much freer and enjoyed the ability to make her own choices, that was not necessarily true in all aspects of the culture.”
Suárez credits her thesis advisor, Dr. Louise Kane, with making her research possible. “She cared and was willing to go above and beyond providing resources and opportunities for me with her connections as well as truly believing in my work and loving each part that I put together,” she says.” I don’t believe that I will ever have the words to thank her for everything that she has done to help advance my educational career.” She extends her gratitude to many of the English Department faculty as well, saying Drs. François-Xavier Gleyzon, Fayeza Hasanat, Barry Mauer, William Fogarty, and her external thesis committee member Yvette Fuentes, all provided her with great support. She also thanks her supervisor in the Thesis and Dissertation Office, Wendy Cartier, for her guidance, and Tyler Campbell, the director of the Graduate Student Center where she served as an ambassador.
For her inspiring work at UCF, Suárez received many awards, including the Frances R. Lefkowitz Endowed Scholarship Award, the Sheila B. Somerville Endowed Graduate Scholarship, and the Graduate Presentation Fellowship twice, which allowed her to study abroad in London and present her research at the University of Greenwich’s international conference. She also presented at an inaugural international conference at the University of Alexandria, Egypt titled, “Women of the World: Literature, Language, and Translation,” an experience she says was highly rewarding.
Suárez graduated in Spring of 2023 and accepted an offer from Cornell University to attain her PhD in Comparative Literature. As the only Latina admitted to the program, she aims to become a voice for marginalized populations while encouraging language diversity and cultural inclusion. “I dream of becoming a highly acknowledged researcher, preserving history and its media integrations in international libraries and archives abroad,” she says. “I will explore the global impact of female social justice empowerment, and bring awareness to oral histories, national customs, and memoirs.”
- Colombian American raised in Saudi Arabia
- Graduate Student Center Ambassador
- Frances R. Lefkowitz Endowed Scholarship Award recipient
- Sheila B. Somerville Endowed Graduate Scholarship recipient
- Graduate Presentation Fellowship recipient
A desire to preserve lived experiences and a passion for storytelling drives Kianna Greene to write. With time, she feels a compelling sense of urgency to keep memories alive through...
Alessandra Zinicola Lopez never planned to pursue graduate school. However, after welcoming her son into the world, she wanted to become a role model for him by furthering her education....
As a native Floridian, Luis Rios is no stranger to severe weather. Growing up, his dream was to become a meteorologist and pursue his interests in the environment and natural...
David Poissant has always had a passion for art. Throughout his childhood and teen years, he spent most of his time cartooning and dreamed of pursuing his love for drawing...