Being an ACI alumnus means being loyal, sharing and caring

Ekin Gökovalı, for ACI Class of '94

Donation Program: Graduate Class Scholarship

Please tell us about yourself. When did you graduate and what did you do afterwards?
I graduated from ACI in 1994. After completing my studies in Journalism at Ege University Communication Faculty, Tourism and Hotel Management at Anadolu University and Business in the same school, I worked in the Library of Izmir SEV for a while. My job was in a different field than my education but I lovingly went to work every day. I sadly left in 2013 when I got married and moved abroad. After sometime, I settled in Akyaka, a village in Muğla; I have lived here for two years now. I sell the natural products of the locals to my friends who live in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. I am also studying Agriculture at Anadolu University.

How did you as a class decide to donate for education and to your school?
As you know, in January 2017, a police officer was killed in a terrible event at the İzmir Courthouse. Like many other classes, we also have a WhatsApp group as the class of '94. We started talking about this horrible event in our group and thought about what we could do when we learned that the policeman had three children. While we were still talking, many people, among them Müjdat Gezen, had already pledged to cover the education and other costs of these children. So as the Class of ’94, we said: 'Since we already started on this path, let’s keep it up.' And the idea of supporting a student studying at ACI was born. As I had previously worked for SEV, been on the editorial board of Beacon, the magazine of ACI, for three years, and in close contact with the ACI Alumni Association, I assumed the responsibility of choosing the scholarship student. We were also in constant communication with our fellow alumnus Didem, who also happened to be the Principal and Accounting Manager Cantürk in this process. Our classmates who contributed to the scholarship fund felt really good about the way we chose to give. Our goal is of course not to create a prototype but we are all proud of being ACI alumni. We feel rightfully proud of being able to support a student who has found this opportunity, like we once did, but is about to lose it due to financial or domestic reasons. I do not like to discriminate but the fact that our student is a girl also made me happy: In a way, I see it as the legacy of Türkan Saylan. What Türkan Saylan did for our country, both in the healthcare field and for the girls is truly amazing. We are all aware of the current conditions in our country; even writing the words “child bride” makes me cringe and feel ashamed of my humanity. That's why girls' education is more important than anything else.

My father, who is an educator himself, always says: 'The most important inheritance I can leave you is a good education.' The constant changes in the education system are a reality that worries us. ACI for us is one of the few schools that still stand strong in this environment without compromising their philosophy. Therefore, graduation of a girl from American Collegiate Institute means starting life a few steps ahead and becoming a good citizen for the community and the republic.

What does it mean to be an ACI alumnus? What do you remember from your high school years? How did ACI make a difference in your life?
I should first mention that our class was the most crowded in the ACI history. We graduated 211 students. But I'm very sad to say that five of our friends left us too soon. We still grieve for Altuğ Alatay, Banu Duygu, Günhan Güneysu, Kenan Slaughter and Tolga Aksel. We wanted to dedicate this scholarship to their beautiful souls.

My best friends at ACI are still my closest friends today… It was the best seven years of my life. Of course, back then it was one preparation year, three years of middle school and three years of high school. I can go back to high school in particular! Sometimes, you cannot find time to see you closest friends for a long while simply because of life. But this situation does not have the slightest effect on our friendship and we owe it to the solid foundations we built at ACI. We learned to question, investigate, stand firm and fight against challenges at ACI, which also taught us to follow Atatürk's teachings in our lives. Being an ACI alumnus is being enlightened. Our motto is 'Enter to learn, depart to serve,' which means to always preserve our physical and moral bonds. It is the desire to offer the privilege we have had to more than one person. It is loyalty, sharing and caring…

What is your message to potential donors?
The Class of ’94 has over 200 graduates. All of our friends help in their own way. We continue this scholarship with nearly 45 of our friends. As of November, we have already paid seventy percent of the tuition fee. First of all, you need to be well organized. We live all around the world. We all have busy professional and personal lives. So, we set a monthly amount not to put anybody on the spot. This is transferred to one account every month and once the balance reaches a certain amount, it is paid to the school. Some of our friends use automatic payment to ensure that they pay regularly. I am responsible for reminding so I send messages to my friends every month. The day I send the message, almost everyone makes the payment.

Everyone can participate in educational scholarships within their means. Essential needs are of course very important. Unfortunately, there are so many people in our country and the world trying to survive below the hunger limit. I wish we could reach out to everyone. We chose to support the education of one girl, who was in danger of being taken out of school at the time. I hope we can do more in the future.

Interview Date: November 2017

Röportaj Tarihi: Kasım 2017