Power comes from unity

Elvan Özkaya, for ACI Class of ‘87

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 1987 and completed my studies in Economics at Boğaziçi University in 1991. Then I finished the French Language and Culture Diploma Program at Sorbonne University in Paris. Starting in 1993, I worked for Milliyet daily, Aktüel magazine and NTV as a correspondent, editor and managing editor for nearly ten years. Then I served in international companies in corporate relations and communications departments. Since 2015, I am doing freelance work in publishing and corporate communications. I'm a book editor and translator. I also provide media and internal communication support for some companies.

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 believe that the privilege of attending ACI is better understood after graduation. I was in the Student Association starting in middle school. This experience of course gave me an advantage as I stepped into professional life. At a young age, you learn to solve problems, work according to a schedule and take responsibility but above all, I believe that the best thing ACI taught me was to be inquisitive. I think ACI taught all of us to be curious and question everything boldly and without hesitation. It is as if you cannot stop learning and your appetite for new knowledge is never curbed. This enthusiasm, this courage also empowers you to get up if you fall and start all over again. There are some amazing people among my classmates I have admired so much for starting life and careers from scratch anywhere in the world. I think we gained this boldness, perseverance and the strength to stand on our own feet at ACI long before college.

How did you as a class decide to donate for education and to your school? What affected your decision?
Many of our friends were already donating to the school individually but the idea of participating in a continuous scholarship as the class of ‘87 was welcomed and confirmed during our 30th reunion. When our classmate and school principal Didem Erpulat gave some examples that were launched we wanted to create a similar fund because we thought that a long-term contribution would be much more effective. Our friends who organized the reunion already had contact details for the Class of ’87 and our classmate Yasemin Yalçınkaya had been updating this information for a long time so the foundation was ready. After the reunion, everyone helped to complete the missing information. Ebru Özaş connected us with the Alumni Association for the scholarship and followed the support through. Our finance specialists Elvan Hamidoğlu and Bilgün Gürkan worked out a payment program. I volunteered to carry out communication with the encouragement of my friends. And Of course, Didem's support and guidance played a key role there because choosing the student and the student-parent communication were through her.

Your support changes many young people’s lives and beyond that the future of a community. How does that make you feel?
We will be delighted to see the graduation of a student we supported since prep class. Giving the opportunity we had for a great education to someone else is a very valuable contribution. We have a child, whose education and perhaps great accomplishments we will follow in the future. We know that learning is endless and if we can accompany and support a student on this journey, even if briefly, we are happy. The spirit of solidarity that emerged among the alumni is also exciting; it is an incredible experience to start with the same warmness where you have left off after so many years and move forward for a good cause.

What is your message to potential donors?
I can just say this, ‘join forces and make a donation’. The tuition fee is high and could be too much for one person to undertake but when the whole class shares the total amount, it becomes much more affordable. There is truly strength in numbers. Our alumni are a very valuable resource in every sense. Let the synergy turn into a miracle and change one person's life; this is a step that will also touch your lives. Considering the adversities in this country and around the world, it will make you feel good, warm your heart and strengthen your belief in and hope for the future. I recommend all alumni to come together and find different ways for longer lasting contributions other than individual donations. Both our school and the Alumni Association are very supportive about this issue so all you need to do is to set out with this intention. The rest will follow.

Interview Date: December 2018

Röportaj Tarihi: Aralık 2017