January 23, 2024

Recently, Middle East Regional Faculty Advisor, and Boston College Professor of Economics, Can Erbil, met with five of our Aspire Alumni in İstanbul, Turkey in January, 2024. We spoke with Alumni and CAA Awardee Şeyma Kara about her experience at this event, and what excites her about future alumni possibilities in Turkey.

When we asked Kara about overall takeaways from the dinner, she gave great insight. “I am really excited about the prospect of concrete plans that Aspire could take to action in Turkey,” she said. “In Turkey, being first generation has a certain stigma, and Aspire could introduce the idea in a new light, and support us all here.”

One of the things Kara enjoyed most about chatting with the other alumni at the dinner was their cross-disciplinary backgrounds. “It was great to meet with alumni who have all different perspectives and areas of study, but all proceeding with strong academic ambition,” she said.

Something that Kara found most unexpected was the attendance of two students who are hopefully future ALP alumni! “Having seen the growth from the beginning of my time at Aspire in 2020 to now, it was great to see two other candidates who are in the first stage of the ALP,” she said. “They got to ask questions of the current alumni, which was a pleasant surprise.”

We discussed with Kara ideas that may be the most exciting for alumni in Turkey. “I’m interested in the creation of different groups within the Turkish Alumni cohort,” she stated. “Maybe generating a platform for Turkish alumni who want to go abroad.” Another idea Kara gave us was propelling an initiative to provide women and individuals in rural communities with more English language learning support. “It may be possible for Aspire to collaborate with NGOs that are already supporting these issues in Turkey – with hopes to provide the ALP program to even more people.”


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