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ASU master's grad combines psychology, literature through interdisciplinary studies degree


This spring, Yasmina Fayed graduated from New College with a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

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May 24, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

In 2017, when Yasmina Fayed graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology and medicine and society, she knew there was more she wanted to explore when it came to these disciplines.

“I realized that there were a lot of things that benefit psychology from literature and vice versa. They're not as distinct as people might think they are,” Fayed said. “I wanted to work on bridging the gap to explore how those two things could influence one another and maybe have more practical applications in the real world.”

Upon finding the interdisciplinary studies program at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Fayed said it seemed like the perfect fit for her.

“I felt like I finally found a way to be able to incorporate both concentrations so that I can create change and facilitate the change that I'd like to see,” she said.

Through the program, Fayed completed a capstone project on how reading fiction can facilitate mindset and behavior changes. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to cognitive behavioral therapy, Fayed’s idea is to create a book club environment that helps package therapy and mental health treatment in a more accessible and rehabilitative manner.

This spring, Fayed graduated from New College with a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Here, she shares more about her experiences at ASU and what’s next for her.

Question: What’s something you learned while at New College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: The collaboration and the community that I walked in on. I wasn't expecting how supportive everyone was, especially coming from a background where my classes were much larger. Collaboration was a part of my undergraduate experience, however I very much felt like I was on my own … I wasn't getting the support I needed so when I came to New College I expected to continue to do things on my own and figure it out by myself but I was really surprised to see how accommodating the staff and my classmates were. I was also surprised to see just how easy it was to bridge the gap between these two subjects with the help and the resources that New College offered me.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I did not have a lot of confidence in my academic abilities and I doubted myself a lot. Even though I felt like I had something to bring to the table, I had a lack of confidence and self-advocacy. Professor Villegas-Silva allowed for me to develop that on my own, giving me the support and the perspective that I needed to be able to think about self-advocating and utilizing the resources that were provided for me. She also made me believe in my idea, and that what I was studying and the work that I was pursuing was worthwhile, so I'm very appreciative of that.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: What worked for me was to finally stop listening to other people and do what I wanted to do. When I was pursuing an academic path that I wasn't passionate about, I was just listening to other people and I wasn't really tapping into what my personal beliefs and goals were. When I finally stopped and thought about what those were, I was able to pursue a path that I felt much more excited about. The second piece of advice I would give is to use your resources to the best of your ability while you’re still in school so that when you do pursue your ambitions outside of school you have a really strong foundation to lean on.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I plan to keep pursuing my capstone project that I've been working on during my master's program. In the future I hope to teach. I want to work with young people to help instill a love of reading within them but also help them heal mentally and emotionally so that I can utilize both my passion and love for literature and help benefit people so that they can psychologically and behaviorally improve.

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