Emily Fokeladeh Named MC’s 2012 Distinguished Professor of the Year
May 11, 2012
Emily Fokeladeh practically grew up at Mississippi College.
From the front porch of her house in Clinton, her father and grandfather loved watching MC Choctaws football games, while her mother enjoyed gazing at the beautiful trees on campus.
Today, colleagues and Clintonians spotting Emily Fokeladeh around town are offering their congratulations to the Christian university’s 2012 Distinguished Professor of the Year.
In her 39th year teaching German at MC, Fokeladeh is thrilled to receive the prestigious award that reflects her innovative skills as an educator, her scholarship and service to the community.
“The award is indeed a tremendous honor since it was decided by my colleagues whom I so greatly respect,” Fokeladeh said. “For 39 years, I have been doing something that I love – teaching, advising and mentoring young people at MC.”
A 1965 Mississippi College graduate with a double major in English and Modern Languages, Fokeladeh studied in Vienna, Austria as a Fulbright Scholar, an opportunity that, she said, “changed my life in so many positive aspects.” The Mississippian returned from Europe after two years of study to earn a master’s degree in German at the University of Mississippi in 1968.
Her German professor and mentor at Mississippi College, Dr. Gertrude Lippert encouraged Fokeladeh to apply for the Fulbright fellowship. When Lippert retired, Fokeladeh stepped in at what was first believed to be a temporary job assignment. But joining the faculty in 1973 opened the door for an incredible teaching career spanning nearly four decades.
What has kept her serving at Mississippi College for so many years?
“A love of teaching, a comfortable working environment, but most of all, the students,” said the 69-year-old Clinton resident.
Clinton and Mississippi College is home for her in so many ways.
A 1961 Clinton High graduate, Emily Fokeladeh didn’t think very long before deciding to become an MC Choctaw. Family roots run deep. Her great aunt and father attended Mississippi College, and her mother was a student at Hillman College that merged with the Baptist-affiliated institution during the World War II era. Her mother was Baptized at Provine Chapel, an MC landmark.
“We were always attached to Mississippi College,” she said.
Teaching brings its challenges. Often, students attending her classes came with no prior exposure to German.
But they quickly caught on. Over the years, many of her students tended to be Music Department majors in either voice or piano. Her teaching abilities though, strike a chord with students no matter what field they’re in. The Department of Modern Languages professor brings classroom excellence that equips them for advanced degrees at seminaries and graduate schools around the nation.
Retirement isn’t something the professor is contemplating at the moment.
“I am thrilled that I am still at MC and cannot imagine myself doing anything other than teaching at the university,” she said after joining colleagues at spring graduations in early May.
Like teaching, family life is a top priority. Her son, Samir Fokeladeh, works for Campus Dining at the university’s cafeteria. Another son, Hamed, is an environmental engineer. Her oldest son, Chaled, was a Mississippi College computer graduate and former Skytel worker who died in an automobile accident in 1998. Her late husband is Nazih Fokeladeh, a native of Syria, who earned an engineering degree at Ole Miss.
Emily Fokeladeh loves reading, music, and spending time with her two grandchildren, Michael, 9, and Matthew, 11, who both live in Brandon.
The German professor is an active member of Northside Baptist Church where she’s served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and traveled abroad on a number of mission trips. The Mississippian is helping to bring the world’s people a little closer together. With a background that includes living in Austria, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey plus a gift for languages, Fokeladeh serves on the board of the Institute for Interfaith Dialog in Jackson.
Photo: Emily Fokeladeh