PUBLISHED:April 16, 2024

In MENALSA, Arab American students find community, support to enrich their law school experience


Several students share how MENALSA provides a home away from home and helpful tools for them to grow as legal professionals

group of MENALSA students together for photo MENALSA event celebrating Nowruz at Duke Law

For many Arab American students, the Middle Eastern North African Law Student Association, commonly known as MENALSA, is a special part of their time at Duke Law School. Students say finding a MENA community – fellow students with their shared culture, language, and lived experiences – provides an important connection to their heritage while going to school thousands of miles from home.

“I did truly find another form of family in MENALSA,” said Alanah Herfi ’24, a first-generation Arab American who hails from Detroit.

The Arab American community consists of Americans with roots in at least one of 22 countries located in the Middle East and North Africa: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

During April, nationally recognized as Arab American Heritage Month, people across the United States celebrate the contributions of Arab Americans to the nation. Here at Duke Law, we’re taking this opportunity to highlight the educational and supportive resource that MENALSA is for our students, as well as the broader Duke Law community.

A relatively new student organization, MENALSA is consistently active throughout the academic year, hosting a wide array of events to promote a better understanding of MENA social, legal, and professional issues. This past year, MENALSA held several events including a conversation with Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi, a panel discussion on ‘Women, Life, Freedom: The Iranian Uprising,’ and a panel with MENA lawyers in Big Law. Social events are also on the docket with fun gatherings to celebrate the Persian New Year and enjoy fellowship.