Q & A with Naira Musallam

Hi Friends!

I couldn’t be more excited to finally start my Girl Talk Series with you all. This series is dear to my heart because I get the opportunity to share with you all the women I have met that inspire me with their work and passion to live life to the fullest.

I will start this series with my former Professor from NYU who I now have the honor to call my friend. She’s an incredible woman who has accomplished so much in her lifetime and yet is so humble about it all.


Naira Musallam is Clinical Assistant Professor of Global Affairs at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. She holds a Ph.D. in Social-Organizational Psychology (2011) and an M.A. in Psychology in Education (2005) from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Communication (2001) from Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Dr. Musallam has over ten years of experience consulting with multiple industries in the private sector on related research, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. She is the recipient of awards and scholarships from the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the U.S Department of State.

Current Job: Teaches National Security in the Middle East, Applied Statistics, Analytical Skills, Human Security at NYU.

What does a typical day look like?
I wake up between 5-530. I need to have coffee within 10 min. By 6AM, I  am already working out at the gym or running outside (for 2 hrs). At 9 AM, I enjoy a big breakfast and head out to teach. Some days I meet with friends after work and before winding down and sleeping, I enjoy 30 min of reading material that is not related to my career. So, adventure books…like books on climbing..etc.

If you weren’t a professor what else would you be doing?
I would own an “adventure company” that takes people not only to physical challenging places but also to ones intellectually stimulating. I would encourage people to learn and live more and learn about cultures.

Has fear ever stopped you from achieving something?
It has. I think fear is always there. Fear tells you that something is not “wise”.
I don’t like the term fearless…I think living without fear means to be disassociated from life. I see fear as something that just is…and you just learn to live with it and achieve your goals with it present. You dance with it. But It’s not a motivator. It simply just is.

Who/What inspires you?
Inspiration comes in different form. I often find it in a very non-heroic way…like the woman and men who go to work at 4AM…in a factory or my students….or the grocery owner…places and people you don’t expect. My mother is a central part of my inspiration. Her resilience, hard-work, generosity to the world with the means that she had inspired me. These things go deeper than inspiration…they become values. My mother is beyond inspiration… she shaped the way I’ve become and that’s not just inspiration…that is beyond…it’s a human being trying to shape the life of others. This is a way of life. It’s beyond inspiration.

What causes/issues are you passionate about?

I have a vision of living in a world where everyone is living in decency and free of suffering. Believing in this vision prompts me to support many causes including research to end diseases, poverty, and promote education, equality, peace, and taking care of our planet.

Do you have any mentors?
I don’t. But I have close people who I consult with and share my struggles with…and I get their opinion. I have different people who I can go to for different things.

In 10 years what would you like to see yourself doing?
I would like to be alive and healthy.

What are your hobbies?
Mountain climbing, Scuba diving, Traveling, the Outdoors, music, and reading. I spend  my time with family and friends.

Favorite climbing experience?

The Himalayas are my favorite climbing region. It’s majestic and you are surrounded by Buddhist monks who also happen to be the best and strongest climbers on this planet.

Favorite NYC Coffee shop?
Reggios Café

Favorite city in the world?

New York City and Kathmandu (capital of Nepal)

Career wisdom for young professional women?

Follow your passion. Hear what others have to say. And don’t listen to anyone.

naira 2

Naira climbing highest peak in Ecuador!

Naira climbing highest peak in Ecuador!



A Traveling Mongolian Man. Photographer: Naira Musallam.

A Traveling Mongolian Man. Photographer: Naira Musallam.


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