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Professor Examines Psychology of Culture

Dr. Carmel Saad
Dr. Carmel Gabriel Saad

Carmel Gabriel Saad, who joins Westmont this fall as an assistant professor of psychology, is an Egyptian-American whose research focuses on bicultural identities and is interested in studying dual non-cultural identities and creativity.

Saad’s parents are both Egyptians who immigrated to the United States about 30 years ago. “I was raised in a traditional Egyptian family and had to reconcile it with my American identity,” she says. “That’s where my research comes from — it’s a natural extension of my personal experiences.”

“I examine how individuals reconcile sometimes competing cultures into a cohesive sense of self,” she says. She also hopes to study individuals with dual, non-cultural identities, such as people integrating their Christian identity in a secular society. “I am interested in how bicultural individuals, who have been able to integrate their dual identities into a cohesive sense of self, are more creative in multicultural contexts,” she says.

Saad graduated from UC Santa Barbara and earned a Master of Arts degree and a doctorate from UC Davis. She has taught at Napa Valley College, UC Davis and the University of the Pacific.

“I really like the balance that Westmont has in devoting time to the students and to the creation of knowledge, and the integration of the Christian faith into the curriculum,” she says. “Sharing my Christian faith with students and integrating it into the teaching, that’s something unique. Coming from public institutions, I do not have a lot of experience with that, but am certainly eager to learn. It makes the undergraduate experience more meaningful when you can develop the whole person: the intellectual side and their faith and character.

“The students are very engaged, welcoming and eager to learn, which is one of the reasons I chose to come to Westmont. I can have a more intimate relationship with the students and important conversations about the discipline.”

Saad, who was born in the U.S., has traveled to Egypt a handful of times throughout her life, visiting relatives and experiencing the Egyptian way of life. “It’s a life-changing experience,” she says. “It’s something you can’t learn about without actually being there and seeing it with your own eyes.

“I’m impressed that many Westmont students study abroad to experience other cultures because it makes for a very meaningful educational experience,” she says.