Fatima Elkabti ’09

Fatima Elkabti

Berkeley, California

Majors: Biology and English
Graduate school: UC Berkeley School of Optometry

Even before she came to Scripps College, Fatima Elkabti wanted to open people’s eyes. Fitting, then, that she’s on the path to becoming an optometrist at UC Berkeley.

“I knew I wanted to be an optometrist and writer and double majored accordingly,” she says. “After taking a few detours, I found myself walking the original path I’d mapped out.”

Those detours include working as a translator and copy editor in Carlsbad and a Fulbright fellowship in Amman, Jordan, where she studied Arabic literature and taught creative writing at the University of Jordan and at a Palestinian refugee camp.

“The Fulbright lent three-dimensionality to that fantastical place I’d heard so much about growing up with Arab American parents,” she says. “I spent time in Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan—a fact that made the Arab Spring all the more riveting.

The revolutions became even more personal when her family moved to Libya last year. Her sister, Asmaa Elkabti ’09, is pursuing a master’s in chemistry at Benghazi.

“I have cousins in Syria. And though they are well, Syria is anything but,” Elkabti says.

Elkabti is on track to graduate in May 2015, and while she plans to make optometry her full-time occupation, her passion for writing is never far from her mind.

“Writing, for me, is a chance to invite strangers into the family room, a chance to serve them coffee and talk about things that affect us all.”


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