American Friends of SOAS
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American Friends of SOAS (AFSOAS) is a Community Group, founded by SOAS alumni based in the U.S., which aims to develop a professional, academic, career and social network of 3,500+ SOAS alumni and friends in the U.S., creating a link between SOAS and its American alumni and friends. 

AFSOAS shares and promotes SOAS' educational aims of advancing the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and support projects and activities which meet these aims. AFSOAS also encourages American students to study at SOAS, as well as fundraising for postgraduate scholarships for American students to study at SOAS.


Dear Friends,

For those who have had the privilege of attending the School of Oriental and African Studies - University of London (or "SOAS," as it is affectionately known), you know well what a truly unique institution it is. With a student body as diverse and rich as the programs on offer, SOAS is exceptional in many ways.

As alumni ourselves, we, the Board of Directors of the American Friends of SOAS, have a deep affinity for the university that has given us each so much and has left such a lasting impression on us all.

Now more than ever, we need to do all we can to invest in quality education, to enable the next generation of academics, professionals, leaders,

and thinkers to help steer our global community toward a more peaceful, prosperous, equitable, and just future.

In addition to its long history of promoting rigorous academic study & research since its founding in 1916, there is much that sets SOAS apart. From its Endangered Languages Programme to the newly inaugurated China and South Asia Institutes to the Sanctuary Scholarships for displaced students, SOAS offers a learning environment unlike any other.

If you are an alum yourself or simply a supporter of exceptional academics, we hope you will stay connected and join us in our mission to strengthen this incredible institution and support other students with an interest in joining our SOAS family.


- The AFSOAS Board of Directors

SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos (center left) with AFSOAS President Brooke Beardslee (right) and a few scholarship students, including Donya Nasser - the 2017 John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship recipient (center right).

SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos (center left) with AFSOAS President Brooke Beardslee (right) and a few scholarship students, including Donya Nasser - the 2017 John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship recipient (center right).

AFSOAS Board members Whitney Purdum, Jessica Adomako, Elaine Loiello, Kate Barron-Alicante and Greg Buie with Angelica Baschiera - Manager, Center of African Studies (left), Sarah Goodyear (3rd from right) and Nizam Uddin - SOAS Trustee (2nd from right)

AFSOAS Board members Whitney Purdum, Jessica Adomako, Elaine Loiello, Kate Barron-Alicante and Greg Buie with Angelica Baschiera - Manager, Center of African Studies (left), Sarah Goodyear (3rd from right) and Nizam Uddin - SOAS Trustee (2nd from right)



We at AFSOAS seek to support important causes that help bring important educational opportunities to high-achieving students in need and to support the exceptional, world-renowned academics for which SOAS is known worldwide. Our top 3 funding priorities at present, for which we are appealing to you for your generous support, are as follows:


Our Team

The AFSOAS team, almost all of whom are SOAS alumni themselves, are volunteers who dedicate their time, expertise and efforts toward building a bridge between SOAS and alumni / students / prospective students in the U.S., as well as supporting SOAS as an institution through student scholarships and other institutional contributions. These individuals represent different geographic regions, areas of study, and time periods of study, bringing a diverse set of ideas and experiences that is reflective of the incredible diversity of SOAS itself.


Gregory Buie - President

- los Angeles, ca -

Since completing his MA in International Studies & Diplomacy at SOAS in 2007, Greg has worked as an international development consultant, serving nonprofit organizations that operate in countries all over the world in helping to build their capacity, designing & implementing programs, and working side-by-side with local partners & communities to help them achieve their development goals. He is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Visions Global Empowerment, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit serving youth & communities through education in India, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Nicaragua.

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Kate Barron-Alicante

- Philadelphia, PA -

Kate received her MsC in Development Studies from SOAS in 2003, with dissertation on Argentine worker co-operatives. Kate was a part of Oxfam's first US-based field team in South Louisiana with the historic disaster recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She has worked on social justice and international programming at Columbia Law School and the University of Tulsa. Kate is now a financial planner at Abacus Wealth Partners, a B-Corps and fee-only firm, and deepening her analysis of impact investing and its intersection with both the neoliberal market system and economic justice.

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Whitney Purdum

- Washington, DC -

Whitney received her Masters in Law and Development from SOAS in 2011. She holds a BA in Arabic and International Relations from the University of St. Andrews. In her years after SOAS, she worked in language and culture and education in Washington DC with a focus on Arabic. She is now a software developer and is currently interested in agroecology and new technologies that promote sustainable and conservation agriculture.


Kirstie Kwarteng

- london, UK -

Kirstie is a PhD Candidate at SOAS in the Department of Development Studies. Her research interests include migration and development, African diaspora populations, second-generation immigrant identity, and transnationalism. Prior to beginning her doctorate, she founded The Nana Project, a digital platform dedicated to preserving Ghana’s history through the voices of Ghanaian elders. In 2016, Kirstie was named as one of Ghana’s Top 30 under 30 by the Future of Ghana.


Bharti Kansara - vice president

- Cupertino, CA -

Dr. Kansara is Author and Educator at, which seeks to empower High School students in the study of the Humanities, so they can rise to their full potential through the use of interactive content and methods. Her past experience includes being an editor in academic publishing at the Open University in England; member of the BBC’s General Advisory Council; co-director of the Academy of IndianDance. She also writes a blog at She holds a BA (Cantab) and PhD (SOAS, University of London).

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- New York, NY -

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Verna Polutan

- los Angeles, ca -

Verna Polutan is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. Government) & New York Law School (J.D. 1997), and was a visiting student of Politics at SOAS in 1989. Verna has been engaged in the exclusive practice of immigration law since 1998. After graduating from law school, Verna worked in private practice for an immigration law firm in New York City. She moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and worked as an associate at one of the largest immigration law firms in the West Coast. She established her own law office in 2002 where she practices in the areas of family immigration and business immigration, as well as in business law, entertainment law and family law.

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- San Francisco, CA -

Having studied abroad at SOAS for a year during her undergraduate studies, Jess went on to pursue a Masters Degree in Development at Brown University. She now works as a Data Scientist evaluating and recommending high-impact physician and patient programs at Genentech. She devotes her free time to enabling meaningful partnerships between impact investing organizations and entrepreneurs.



Brent Jagueneau-Siegel

- New York, NY -


AMY Newcomb

- Seattle, WA -

Amy is a development consultant for the Lazord Foundation, an international fellowship program for college graduates in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia. She has a BA in Anthropology from Biola University and MA in Anthropology of Development from SOAS. Her graduate research focused on women domestic workers in the Middle East where she worked as a diplomat with the US State Department and the American University in Cairo. Other research and publication topics include civic engagement, community-based scholarship, service learning, and youth employment. Amy is a mentor in the University of Washington mentor network.

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ZHENFEI (FAY) Hu - Treasurer


Fay Hu attended SOAS from 2003-2004 and completed her Intermediate Certificate in Comparative International Stuides before moving on to Royal Holloway, University of London for her undergraduate studies in Management. She earned her Masters Degree in Sport Management from the University of San Francisco. Fay has non- profit administration and management experience with USA Water Polo, which is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body of the sport in the United States.


Elaine Robinson Loiello

- Easton, MD -


Sherin Nassar

- Boston, MA -

Sherin Nassar graduated from SOAS in 2018 with an MSc in Development Studies, after having completed her Bachelors at George Washington University in International Affairs and Economics with a concentration in International Development and Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently a JD candidate at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sherin has lived in China, Turkey and England. She loves concerts, fried chicken & reading and is incredibly excited to be the Boston point of contact for the SOAS community.


Our Finances

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From 2012 - 2018, the American Friends of SOAS Inc. was a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Annual financial statements for the organization can be found using the links below. All giving is now managed through the Chapel & York US Foundation, where SOAS is a named fund member and is eligible to receive charitable contributions.



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About the School of Oriental and African Studies - University of London (UK)

SOAS University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

SOAS is a remarkable institution. Uniquely combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus, it has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

On the one hand, this means that SOAS scholars grapple with pressing issues - democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion, social change - confronting two-thirds of humankind, while at the same time remaining guardians of specialised knowledge in languages and periods and regions not available anywhere else in the UK.

SOAS is synonymous with intellectual enquiry and achievement. As a global academic base and a crucial resource for London, SOAS is distinctively positioned to analyse, understand and explain some of the most challenging issues facing us in the world today.

SOAS's academic focus on the languages, cultures and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East makes it a truly indispensable interpreter in a complex world.



SOAS at a Glance...

90% Satisfied with teaching

SOAS is top for teaching in London with a score of 90% (3% above the sector average) (National student survey 2016). 88% of students at SOAS are satisfied overall – up from 87% last year, equalling the highest recorded at SOAS and 2% points above the sector average.

133 Countries

SOAS has more than 5,000 students from 133 countries on campus, and just over 50% per cent of them are from outside the UK. In addition, about 3,600 students around the world are taking one of our online and distance learning programmes.

Equal Split

There is a roughly equal split between undergraduates (55%) and postgraduates (45%).

Mature Students

24% of undergraduates are over 21 when they start their course.

350 Combinations

More than 350 undergraduate degree combinations are available in social sciences, arts, humanities and languages, all with a distinctive regional focus and global relevance. And over 115 postgraduate programmes.


SOAS offers an unparalleled range of non-European languages, all of which may be studied without prior knowledge. The school was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2009 for the excellence, breadth and depth of its language teaching.


More than 40% of SOAS undergraduate degree programmes offer the opportunity to spend a year studying in another country.

300 Academics

SOAS has the largest concentration of specialist staff (300+ academics) concerned with the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East at any university in the world.

National Leader

In the Research Assessment Exercise of 2008, more than 85% of our submissions were ranked at either the highest grade of 4* (world-leading quality), 3* (internationally excellent) or 2* (recognised internationally).

11.3:1 Ratio

Small-group teaching remains an important feature of study at SOAS – the student-staff ratio (11.3:1) is one of the best in the UK.

Over 115 Postgraduate Programmes

SOAS has over 115 postgraduate programmes taught on campus and a wide range of degrees, certificates and diplomas taught by distance learning, in the social sciences, humanities and languages, with a distinctive regional focus and global relevance.


The SOAS Library – recently refurbished – has more than 1.5 million items and extensive electronic resources for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and attracts scholars from all around the world.

To learn more, please visit: