The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State is the largest college on campus, encompassing nine departments, and the Armenian Studies Program.

Of the 60 new faculty members at Fresno State this fall, about 22% of the new hires are in the College of Arts and Humanities. These new faculty bring innovative research, diverse disciplines and technical expertise to our college, strengthening our programs across many of our disciplines.

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to these new faces, by department.

Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

Indira SultanicIndira Sultanić joins the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from Kent State University.

Sultanić is a Ph.D. candidate in translation studies at Kent State University, and holds an M.A. in translation (Spanish) from the same institution. She earned her B.A. in English and Spanish, with a minor in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), from Bluffton University.

Sultanić is a Certified Healthcare Interpreter™ professional. She has worked in the language industry as a language project manager, translator and interpreter over the past nine years. She continues to work as a professional Spanish>English, and Bosnian<>English translator as well as a medical and community interpreter.

She was recently invited by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters to join the conversation about enhancing the CoreCHI™ certification program and offer her expertise in providing additional ways to test interpreters’ core skills.

Sultanić has experience teaching practice translation, advanced translation practice, medical Spanish translation and interpreting, elementary and intermediate Spanish courses at the undergraduate level as well as Computer Assisted Translation tools at the graduate level. Her research interests are translation and interpreting pedagogy, curriculum design and development, interpreter competencies, cultural competency, language industry and language access.  

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: What I’m most looking forward to is working with the students, being a part of the Fresno State community as well as finding ways to connect students with the local community that is in need of translation and interpreting services.

Q: Can you tell me how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I’ve always loved learning different languages and have always been fascinated by translators and interpreters. I think translation and interpreting gives us access to different cultures, human experiences and worlds that are otherwise hard to understand. Once I graduated from Bluffton University, with a double major in English and Spanish, the natural course of action for me was to enroll in a master’s program in translation and interpreting, which is how it all started. I completed my M.A. in translation at Kent State University, and after three years of working as a translation project manager, I returned for a Ph.D. in translation studies.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the MCLL Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: I think that my courses at Fresno State, as well as my experience as a professional translator and interpreter, will give students an opportunity to, in addition to the variety of courses that are already offered in the MCLL department, venture into the professional field of interpreting and translation. Many of them already speak the language but may not have the necessary skills or the knowledge to pursue T&I as a profession. I have been active in the T&I field for the past nine years and have a lot of experience that can help guide students through the process of becoming a language professional, and doing so with a broad understanding of the code of ethics, and their role in providing language access.

Q: What are you reading?

A: “La isla bajo el mar” by Isabel Allende.

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: There are so many, especially since I like reading books in translation, but one that comes to mind that I recently read is “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I’m a singer-songwriter in my spare time.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a mistake students tend to make?

A: I would have to say that it’s students being afraid to ask questions when they are unsure about something. I like to think that every classroom is a safe space to make mistakes, ask questions and be analytical about the content that is presented to you. I think it’s important to ask questions, especially when it comes to working in the translation and interpreting profession.

Q: When are your office hours?

A: My office hours will be 1-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I’m originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina and have always wanted to visit and/or live in California.

Amila BecirbegovicDr. Amila Becirbegovic joins the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from UC Davis.

Becirbegovic received her Ph.D. in German literature and critical theory from the University of California at Davis, where she was awarded the 2015-2016 Research Fellowship and the 2016 Humanities Research Institute Grant for her work on Bosnian and Turkish refugees in Germany, as well as the 2012-2013 Provost Fellowship for her work on contemporary Holocaust memory.

Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Becirbegovic lived in Hannover, Germany, before moving to the United States. She has taught German language, literature and film courses to secondary and post-secondary students in the U.S. for a combined 10 years at Arizona State University, the University of Texas at Austin and at UC California, Davis. Becirbegovic was awarded the 2010 and 2009 German Excellent Teaching Award at Arizona State University.

She is interested in 20th century visual culture, with a specific focus on atrocity and genocide representations and cultural (re)memory. As part of her research, she is interested in developing and analyzing how pedagogical approaches and representations of the Holocaust and Germany’s post-war memorialization influence and inform new generations, contemporary conflicts and refugee politics.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am most excited to work with the Fresno State students and look forward to teaching German and humanities courses to the University High School students as well as the diverse Fresno State student body. I am impressed with the initiative to strive for inclusion, awareness and student success and look forward to getting involved in cross-disciplinary discussions regarding foreign language and genocide education across campus.

Q: Can you tell me how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I escaped to northern Germany during the war in Bosnia in 1992. I was a refugee for eight years before moving to the U.S. to pursue higher education. My passion for German language and literature developed during my stay in Germany when I stumbled upon renowned German author Erich Kästner’s Bildungsroman’s “The Flying Classroom.” I was inspired by the school story genre and endeavored on a quest to teach German language, history and culture. My own personal experiences have also shaped my work and have led me to investigate what impact genocide representations have on public memory. In particular, I am passionate about educating students about lesser known genocide cases, such as Armenia, Bosnia and Rwanda. In addition to my interest in genocide studies, I also research post-WWII German literature, film and pop culture (comics, contemporary music and memoirs). I am interested in Germany’s post-WWII memorialization process and how Holocaust memory impacts our understanding of the current refugee crisis.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the MCLL Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: I am trained in human rights, Holocaust studies and contemporary German literature. My academic background has led me to develop many challenging courses, from “Genocide and Film” to “Post-WWII Germany Writers.” Students often cite that my classes have engendered a new interest in global politics and history and that my humanities courses have greatly supplemented their foreign language education. Many of my students have gone on to work abroad and have applied their training to education and human rights jobs worldwide. I am excited to bring my experience of over 10 years of teaching German and genocide courses to Fresno State.

Q: What are you reading?

A: I am currently reading Ulla Hahn’s “Unscharfe Bilder,” a German novel about forgotten Holocaust photographs and family memory.

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: I think everyone should read Shelley Jackson’s “Mimi’s Dada Catifesto” as a refreshing source of introspective humor. On a more serious note, I would highly recommend German author Jenny Erpenbeck’s “Homecoming” and her most recent novel addressing the refugee crisis, “Go, Went, Gone” (both are available as English translations).

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I have a pet parrot named Ernie who is small, but mighty.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a mistake students tend to make?

A: My biggest pet peeve is when students begin a question with, “this may be a stupid question, but…” There are no stupid questions and I encourage students to speak up and voice their concerns and ideas in class. You can never ask too many questions!

Q: When are your office hours?

A: My office hours are 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 11 a.m.-noon Thursdays. I am also always available by appointment.