Graduate Profile: Noor Idris Traina, MTS '22

May 24, 2022
Noor Idris Traina, MTS '22
Noor Idris Traina, MTS '22 Courtesy Photo

HDS communications reached out to our 2022 graduating students to hear from them in their own words about their experiences at HDS, the people who've helped and inspired them along their grad school journeys, and their plans for the future.

How I've Changed 

There are two important ways in which HDS has transformed me. For those in my degree program who are graduating this May, our first year was remote. I had the unique experience of pursuing my Harvard degree from my small village of Ibad in Misrata, Libya. At the time, I was experiencing the ongoing 2019 civil war and constant electricity and internet cuts. Pursuing knowledge in the context of this kind of struggle can bring you to your knees and force you to ask important epistemic questions: what kind of knowledge is beneficial? Is all knowledge production useful? Who does this serve and how? 

Secondly, at HDS, people do not just transform intellectually. I have grown and outgrown various waves of spiritual, academic, political, and social advancement during my time here. Many of my friends here have also grown to deepen their convictions or change them because of the ways they were challenged or affirmed. I’ve seen immense augmentation in myself and my community’s interests, career paths, and capacity to connect with others and their causes because of HDS. 

Memorable Moment

HDS is a place of radical imagination and expansion. Four years ago, at the Diversity and Explorations program, I connected deeply to a group of prospective HDS students. Many of them are graduating with me today. One of my good friends who was going to become a Christian minister at that time, texted me last semester letting me know they decided to convert to Islam. Together, in a room, we repeated the phrase that introduces a person into the faith. I still remember the way my body was covered in chills and both of us welled up in tears. It was a metamorphic moment that I’ve seen happen in many different shapes and forms with my colleagues from various traditions and faiths who experience new truth during their time here. 

Favorite Class or Professor

This is really hard to answer. Professors at HDS have taught me more than just the content of classes, they’ve modeled what teaching can be like and what it can do to students’ minds, hearts, and practices. Dr. Ousmane Kane opens his home to students every Friday for Sufi circles of mediation and reflection; an act which helped me internalize our readings in a beautiful way and that also embodies true mentorship. Dr. Teren Sevea showed me what it would be like if we treated the classroom itself as an anthropological experiment, making studies out of students’ lived experiences around faith. Mac Loftin and Dr. Kelsey Quigley built my confidence in myself as an aspiring scholar by helping me construct and develop original arguments in my thesis. So many others have been instrumental in this journey, and I am full of gratitude. 

Message of Thanks 

I would like to thank my Creator, my parents to whom I owe this accomplishment, my brother Asaad and his wife, and my entire family. They are my unending source of drive, support, and fulfillment. Moreover, I’d like to thank my best friend Khadija Ali for her guidance and unwavering compassion towards me from the beginning of this adventure. HDS Muslims has also been a home that has grounded me in my purpose, mission, and faith. Finally, I’ve been inspired every week by the words and service of Imam Khalil, Chaplain Samia, and Dr. Ousmane Kane to the broader Harvard community. Also, my colleague Maya James, has been a consistent source of inspiration in her humility, commitment to justice, and tireless efforts for the student body. 

What I Hope to Be Remembered By

I hope to be remembered for my faith, love, curiosity, resilience, commitment to justice, and of course, the witty joy that makes life sparkly. 

Future Plans

I hope to work for a year before returning to school to pursue a career in Islamic psychology and the advancement of public and mental health development for women in post-conflict regions.