Şeyma Kara, an alumna of the 2020 Aspire Leaders program and a strong believer in the importance of cross-cultural collaboration, currently studies Clinical Psychology at Newcastle University.
Kara gained an opportunity to continue her studies in psychology through a Chevening scholarship.
The Chevening Scholarship, a competitive award, funds emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue a one-year master’s degree in the United Kingdom. Kara and her peers represent young adults who have passion and influence to provide solutions and leadership needed to create a better future.
While in university in Turkey, Kara traveled to London during a summer to attend a fully funded language education and mentorship program. Two professors at Kings College acted as mentors for her during her stay, and she had the opportunity to observe some of their research activities.
This process opened her eyes to the disparity between the definition of research in Turkey and the UK.
Kara would not accept that this difference exists and wants to continue to drive solutions and develop her research skills further. In Turkey, she worked at an NGO and developed a platform that integrates academic research tools for others in this sector to access.
Kara learned about the Aspire Leaders Program (ALP) among these activities and felt excited to surround herself with other impact-oriented young leaders.
Journey as Change Maker and Aspire Alumni Ambassador
Şeyma Kara, originally drawn to the ALP by the community of curious and culturally diverse youth, now acts as an agent of change in applying culturally sensitive solutions to community problems.
Kara enjoyed analyzing the Harvard Business School case studies during the program, as she felt that during her time with Aspire Institute, cultural awareness and sensitivity increased for her and her peers. They learned of multiple lived realities and challenges that they did not realize others faced as they brought their own context to the discussions.
“We should be working toward finding solutions that fit our society’s unique characteristics,” she said. “We have the same mindsets, similar obstacles, and mutual characteristics.”
The Aspire network continues to support Kara as she guides the next-generation of Aspire Leaders in Training.
“Aspire Institute doesn’t just leave us alone after the program completes,” she described. “It is a growing hub for networking and connections.”
Kara continues to learn from the vibrant and growing alumni network while also giving back to what helped her advance her confidence and career aspirations.
As a committed alumna and now official Aspire Alumni Ambassador (AAA), she worked with the Institution for Supporting Contemporary Life to spread the word to 15,000 prospective applicants from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
She continued to bring emerging leaders into her orbit after an invitation to be a part of the Young Women Leaders of the Future project. This network consisted of 10,000 young women who she told about the Aspire Leaders Program.
“Giving back to Aspire is important for me, because this program is all about agencies of change,” she shared. “If we really want to solve problems, we have to keep coming back to continue the conversation.”
The ALP inspired Kara to bring together students interested in psychology and provide them with internships and opportunities that guide them in becoming an impactful leader through her initiative, Easetogether.
“I want to open the network internationally in the future,” she said. “I want to examine the cross-cultural relations of the study and practice of psychology.”
She credits this global thinking and the possibility of forming Easetogether to the ALP.
“After the program, I thought, ‘why not?” she explained.
Along with this initiative, Kara hopes to create psychology labs across Turkey where researchers from a range of cultures come together to exchange knowledge and ideas.
“Community is precious when you are trying to make an impact,” she said. “I want to keep building a global network.”
Kara leads her life now with confidence and passion but still experiences the pressures of being a first-generation college student from a low-income background.
“I have no other option besides working hard in this process,” she expressed. “It makes me resilient in facing the difficulties in my path.”
Her hard work and resilience has led to her success so far.
“Coming from certain backgrounds makes you vulnerable to reach out for guidance,” she said. “My perspective is different and it motivates me to do more.”