Columnist Gila Benmayor wrote about the society founded by graduate Selim Önal and his friends in Silicon Valley. The founders include another graduate, Mert Karakaş.
Our graduates Selim Önal (Computer Science and Engineering, 2008 - UG) and Mert Karakaş (Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, 2005 - UG) worked with their friends in the US to establish the Crossroads society for supporting the career development of young students in Turkey. Columnist Gila Benmayor’s article in Hürriyet is available below.
These youths are Turkey's ticket out of mediocrity
January 10, 2017
My article "Is Turkey condemned to mediocrity?" last week received varying responses.
Professor Osman Çoşkunoğlu, a Republican People's Party deputy between 2002 and 2011, said that he used reports similar to the ones I discussed to prepare Turkey's international scorecard for years, but was disregarded.
He said that although his proposed solutions fell on deaf ears, the answer to my question in the title was "Yes." In other words, we are condemned to mediocrity.
Meanwhile, an email from a 31-year-old computer scientist working in Silicon Valley raised my hopes. Selim Önal wrote to me saying that he and a number of his Silicon Valley colleagues founded a society called Crossroads (www.kesisenyollar.org). He says, "We founded this society to support the career development of young people in Turkey and inspire them with a series of events. We believe that the path to improving our results in the reports you discussed in your article lies in encouraging the youth."
These are written by a 31-year-old. He was born in Istanbul in 1985. He graduated from the Koç High School followed by Sabancı University Computer Science and Engineering. He then moved to the US, completed a master's degree at Brown University, and worked at Oracle and Google. He has been working at the technology company Palantir for a year. Selim Önal is one of the lucky children who went to Turkey's best schools. But he has been giving back to the society at every turn. He was a volunteer trainer in events held by Koç High School, Sabancı University and the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life.
The seven other founders of the Crossroads are also in their early thirties.
MOST ARE COMPUTER SCIENTISTS
Some are graduates of Sabancı or METU, while others come from Anatolian universities. Most are computer scientists working at Google. There are education professionals among them as well. An example is Hatice Uyanık: a Gazi University graduate from Afyon, who completed a second master's degree on special education at the San Francisco State University, and is currently pursuing a PhD on the subject at the University of Kansas. The other founders of Crossroads are Mert Karakaş, Çağlar Ünlü, Hediye Uğur, Heval Azizoğlu, Gülşah Altun and Önder Özbek. I don't have enough space to introduce each of them. I hope they will forgive me.
Back to Selim's email: He says that while working at Google, he visited all the major universities in Turkey under company events.
A GAIN FOR TURKEY
"I talked to students about career opportunities not just at Google, but everywhere else in the world; I told them how they could be hired by major companies" he says. The idea of founding a society came to him when he realized the breadth of the gap in showing the way to university students. One event of the society is "Online Career Conversations." Professionals from Turkey and other countries, who make a difference in their respective fields, meet with students on Youtube Live. The advisor program matches high school students in Turkey with advisors in graduate studies or professional careers. Önal says, "We have issues with promoting our society, especially in rural Turkey. It would help us greatly if you could mention us in an article. Even if a handful of people were to respond, it would mean a lot to us."
It means a lot to them, and to Turkey of course.
We commend our graduate for his achievements and wish him more success in the future.
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