Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ayşe Naz Erkan - The first and the only Turkish engineer at Twitter

Photo by Mehul Vora

Dr. Ayşe Naz Erkan is the first and the only Turkish software engineer at Twitter. She is only 32 years old and currently lives in New York City! Although born in Adana, a city in southern Turkey, she considers herself a true ‘Black Sea Region’ person. Her mother is from Artvin, her father from Trabzon, both located in northern Turkey, a region famous for its distinctive humor, eccentric cuisine and quick-tempered people.

Her academic career is quite amazing! Let’s simply say that she studied at the best schools such as Istanbul Boğazici University, Max Planck Institute in Germany and NYU's Courant Institute where she earned her PHD degree. Ooopss! Almost forgot! All these schools and institutes offered her a 100% scholarship. Despite this exceptional academic background, she started working for a no-name startup company when she graduated. It was a small social media analysis company. “People thought I was crazy; I was working 12-18 hours per day and the salary was not impressive. Yes, I was working very hard yet I was also gaining a lot of experience and learning a lot at the same time,” says Dr. Erkan.
After her one-year career at this startup, Twitter acquired the company, thus all the employees of the startup became Twitter employees – of course after some interview process.
When I asked her opinions about Twitter, the response that I got was quite explanatory, she thinks that Twitter is the only source in the web which catches the moment (zeitgeist); people learn what is going on in the world at the second as long as they follow the right people. And most importantly, Twitter is an uncensored and democratic platform where people can share anything they want. Moreover she believes that Twitter is a platform, which enables to create a better world. According to Dr. Erkan, it is amazing to observe how people collaborate on Twitter during hard times such as the earthquakes, the revolts etc…
She says she wants to create as much value as possible at Twitter where she defines her role as solving interesting problems. Someday though she wants to start her own company in Istanbul which she thinks is slowly becoming a convenient environment for startup companies.
It was really exciting to talk to an amazing woman who achieved all these accomplishments without taking any advantage of her parents' financial resources. I have to say that the reactions to this interview, which has been published on the front page of Hurriyet, made me very proud.

Here's my longer article on Hurriyet daily newspaper in Turkish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coşku Turhan - Transforms dreams into reality!

There is nothing in life that you can’t transfer into movie screen.  Coşku Turhan who is the Senior Lead Technical Director at Sony Picture Imageworks, creates environments which looks very real but would be impossible to capture in a movie.

Cosku Turhan who was born in the capital city of Turkey, Ankara is only 31 years old and lives currently in Los Angeles, California with his wife Ceyla Doral Turhan. After his grad study at University of Southern California (USC), he has started to work for the giant company, Sony where he achieved many accomplishments. So far, he has worked for many top box office movies such as Beowulf, Alice in Wonderland, Green Lantern, G-Force, and Eagle Eye. The next movie is ‘The Amazing Spiderman.’ That is simply amazing.

His main goal in life is to increase the Visual F/X quality of the Turkish movies. He thinks that Turkish moviemakers have great ideas, yet not enough budgets to transfer each thought to movie screen. He loves Los Angeles, and he loves his life over there despite the heavy working hours. ‘If you love what are you doing, you don’t mind working hard’ he says.

Coşku Turhan is also a great musician who created a popular song called ‘Rütbeni Bilicen’ for one of the most famous singers of Turkey, Kenan Doğulu. 

Here's my longer article on Hurriyet USA daily newspaper in Turkish.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Canan Çevik - The earthquake that shook humanity!

It is no news that an earthquake hit eastern Turkey recently, and many people lost their lives and homes. What has been missing from reports of this disaster is its political dimension.

The affected region is home to a Kurdish majority, and some fascist sects of Turkish society have actually cheered over the loss and devastation brought upon Kurds—simply because they are Kurds!

As you may already know, there’s a long history of tensions between Turks and Kurds, since Kurds aspire to an independent state within the country, and Turkey would never allow it. But to condemn individual Kurds and to see them as deserving of this terrible disaster is utterly narrow-minded and mean-spirited.

As a Turk, I would like the world to know that in spite of ethnic tensions, we are as capable of solidarity and humanitarian action as any nation. To that end, I conducted an interview with Canan Çevik, a Kurdish Turk who studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMASS Amherst), and I am glad to share her humanistic thoughts—as a strong message against the politics of hatred.

Canan Cevik said, “Right to life trumps all else, especially in the midst of human suffering. Discrimination itself is a shame, but to discriminate against those who are already down, is very close-minded. Our humanity is the most essential thing in life. Although no one should question another’s race under any circumstance, some bigoted people question people’s races even during hard times. That is incomprehensible! On the flip side, it was great to observe a lot of generous people of all races helping the region.”

P.S. The interview will be published at Hurriyet very soon!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tamer Türkman - Job Description: Making a difference in the lives of young Turks!

Tamer Turkman, founder and president of International Student Services and StudyInAmerica.com, is an American of Turkish descent. Born in 1967, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University in Maryland and a master’s from Temple University. During his college years, Turkman was one of the most valuable players of the NCAA. However, an ankle injury kept him from pursuing a basketball career, and he missed the opportunity of becoming the first Turkish NBA player in history. 

But Turkman was determined to find a new and fulfilling career path. He worked for Mobile Oil as financial analyst for 4 years, and, in 1993, he launched a business idea designed to help young Turks who aspire to study and live in the U.S.  He takes great pride in making a difference in the lives of many young Turks. Today, he is in high demand as a Turkish counselor due to his distinctive counseling style and approach. Besides helping students to study in the US, he also interviews and promotes them on StudyInAmerica.com. 

Here's my longer article on Hurriyet USA daily newspaper in Turkish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sıla Karakaya - Re-creating the world

New York based Turkish designer Sıla Karakaya, graduated from New York University, TISCH School of the Arts, with a MFA degree in Production Design and Scenic Design.

Nowadays, she designs theatrical, cinematographic and architectural sets, and brings film and theater characters to life.  Most recently, Sıla Karakaya worked on the set of Spike Lee’s last movie, “Red Hook Summer.” Her next project will involve set designing and production for an Emma Thompson’s movie to be shot in London.

In a recent interview, Sila Karakaya said,“My design background from MFA, Lighting Design from Parsons School of Design and BFA, Interior Architecture from Bilkent University—make for a very comprehensive set of skills,” and, she adds, “I feel very lucky to have taken lessons from legendary filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese during my education at NYU.”

Perhaps just as obvious as her skill and preparation, is her passion for her work. 

Here are my longer articles on Hurriyet USA and Hurriyet Turkey daily newspapers in Turkish. 


Beri Meriç - Connects Ivy League and exclusive singles!

Originally from Turkey, Beri Meriç, grew up in Scotland and currently resides in New York City.

One day, Beri Meric and Philip Triebel realized that Ivy League people are so busy in their business that they neglect their social life. With this insight, they founded IvyDate. Their premise is simple: “We will introduce you to outstanding people. Our members exhibit an exceptional range of interests, accomplishments, and backgrounds, and share a respect for excellence – be it personal or professional. As such, all like-minded men and women are encouraged to register, regardless of school affiliation or occupation.”

But why call it “Ivydate.com” if the website is open to everyone and registration is so easy? Beri Meriç’s answer is quite satisfactory: “Everyone can be a member as long as they are meet our criteria; however, in our matching system a non-Ivy League graduate cannot get acquainted with another non-Ivy League graduate. The system is built to find appropriate matches for Ivy League graduates only.”
Registration is free, but there’s a $40 monthly-fee for the privilege of communicating with a match.

How does it work? “We send the members five exceptional matches every week, all of whom have been pre-screened by a special membership committee to ensure quality matches.”

An interesting detail, 55% of Ivydate members are women. 

Here are my longer articles on Hurriyet USA and Hurriyet Turkey daily newspapers in Turkish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Temi Hason - A Turkish actress on Broadway

Temi Hason, who’s been living in the States for one and a half years, is the only Turkish actress on Broadway's ‘Spring’s Awakening.’ We will be able to see this young cello lover in a movie very soon as the main actress.

23 years old Temi Hason who’s been taking cello lessons since her first year of the conservatory has received her undergraduate degree at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Her next stop was New York Film Academy where her life has changed permanently.  While she was a student, she has been offered an important role in 'Spring's Awakening.'

“I was the sister of the main character and as an international, it was almost impossible to get that role, but I got it thanks to my never-ending desire” says Temi. 

Hopefully, this very young talent will be one of the best actresses on Broadway and will continue making us proud!

Here are my longer articles on Hurriyet USA and Hurriyet Turkey daily newspapers in Turkish.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sinan Tuncay - A promising young talent!

A young Turkish director called Sinan Tuncay who recently shot one of the most original video clips of all times for a very famous Turkish star, studies at SVA in New York, nowadays.

This promising young talent to whom I've conducted an interview recently, is only 25 years old and has already gained the enormous support of Sezen Aksu, who is a pop music singer, songwriter and producer with a record of over 40 million albums sales worldwide.

He says that he is lucky that Sezen Aksu has demonstrated her trust to young talents whereas many people thinks that such a reputable name should work with famous and experienced directors. However Sezen Aksu's belief to Sinan Tuncay has been proven right after the big success of the video clip.

What did Sinan manage different and so successful? He, together with another young talent, the art director Sevil Kaynak built a scale model of Sezen Aksu's house for the clip; they even replicated the smallest items such as the pictures on the walls and even corns in the salad plate. They produced six different toys of Sezen Aksu herself reflecting different movements. They worked for three months, 18 hours per day and shot the clip by using stop motion technique mostly. Eventually, Sinan created a beautiful video clip that millions of people loved in Turkey and all around the World.

He thanks to his family for the understanding and support and he says he feels very blessed that he could reach and had the opportunity to explain his preliminary work to Sezen Aksu.

Here's my longer article on Hurriyet USA daily newspaper in Turkish.