I was a student of Dr. Barlas early in her career at Ithaca College, having graduated in 1992 with a degree in Politics. Whereas she was a native of Pakistan, Muslim, female, with an enormous intellect and a Ph.D., and allowed to stay in this country after being granted asylum, I grew up a product of suburban Cleveland, Jewish, male, unsure at age twenty of my beliefs and unsteady in my knowledge, a fourth generation American. We had little in common, and yet when our lives intersected we struck up an unlikely friendship. She clearly possessed an incredible intellect and life experience, but rather than lecture or talk down to her students, she showed a genuine interest and capacity to listen to us, and to get to know us. She invited me over and cooked me dinner in her home. I admired her strength, and her letting me in to her world. Her kindness was a gift, and when she traveled through Ohio I was touched that she came and stayed with me and my family. I am sure she helped spark in me a curiosity and questioning about the world that I carried with me after graduation. She must have also made an impression on so many of her students, and deserves all the accolades and recognition as she retires from nearly 30 years in the department. I wish her well on the next chapter, and of course the invitation is always open if your travels ever take you through Northeast Ohio.
All the best,
Peter Nagusky ‘92