Nahla Bendefaa was raised in the coastal town of Kenitra in Morocco.
She attended Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies with a concentration in media studies in 2016. Her senior capstone topic was “Framing Analysis of the News Coverage of the Syrian
Refugee Crisis.” During her undergraduate program, Bendefaa studied at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, as an exchange student. Her areas of study included media, theory and practice; textual analysis; and visual production.
During her undergraduate years, she taught art, design and production skills at Al Akhawayn University, while also being in charge of the lab component. She wrote and edited news and feature articles on culture and society, developed a contacts database of all prominent non-government organizations, multinationals and higher education institutions in Morocco, and managed the Twitter account for Morocco World News. She also wrote feature stories about current students and alumni, kept an updated calendar of events for local media, and developed an Experts List for Allegheny College's news website.
Upon graduation, she worked at Al Akhawayn University as an outbound study abroad advisor before deciding to continue her education at Kent State University.
In addition to her native language of Arabic, Bendefaa speaks fluent English and French. She is an avid traveler, photographer, human rights activist, and coffee and tea enthusiast.