Sustainable Development programme application
To whom it may concern,
My motivation behind studying for the Masters of Sustainable Development at your prestigious institutions stems from my interest in the field of development studies from a younger age. As a creative, ambitious, and interested student who always had a special interest in societal issues, I dedicated some of my time to volunteering in NGOs, organizing events related to gender equality and women's empowerment in the university.
Tutoring in a community centre in one of the many impoverished suburbs of Istanbul, Tarlabasi, to disadvantaged children and being with people who have been working for a long time in this field enhanced my understanding of some of the main socio-economical issues faced in my society- and globally-.This experience has given me the passion to pursue a career in this field and encouraged me to have an academic focus on societal issues.
During my studies at the university, as the secretary of Women Studies Club, I was one of the leader of a group who advocated for fighting sexual harrassment under the Istanbul Convention and gender equality in coordination with other Women Clubs&Centers. Being the secretary of Women Studies Club has given me a great chance to attend many seminars, panels and trainings on gender, societal and environmental issues which is also reflected in the choise of my graduate project accordingly. At that time, the price gap between the first producer and last consumer of milk was very high (still is), leading to high prices in the market for fresh milk which hindered many impoverished families' access to one of the most vital consumable goods. As a result, I designed an environmental friendly innovative solution as a Management Engineering student.. I believe this is a reflection of my creative, proactive and solution-oriented character who has great analytical thinking and project development skills.
Upon graduation, In 2016, one of the world's greatest humanitarian crisis - the Syrian refugee crisis peaked, I found myself working with the initiative 'Small Projects Istanbul' (SPI), a grass roots organization working with refugees that implements various projects. It was again a volunteering position where I was teaching refugees basic Turkish language skills. This period of my life was a great experience in learning and discovering a new culture with the people that I met in the center. But more importantly, this experience led me to decide to be part of this field.
Shortly after I moved to Gaziantep, the border city of Turkey and started to work for an INGO- Handicap International. During this experience, I was interacting with other (I)NGOs, participating and following UN and WHO seminars and working groups. Putting all information, knowledge, and observation together I realized and experienced that many processes in humanitarian institutions are very inefficient and cumbersome and that most time was dedicated to paperwork, donor compliance mechanisms rather than time spent on meeting the needs of the beneficiaries. This awareness has shifted my focus onto this problem and I started to interview people, follow reports, and research institutions to be able to find a solution to this issue. As a graduate of Management Engineering from Istanbul Tecnical University, the first and one of the best universities in Turkey, I thought the highest added value would be in the way that I combine my previous studies and my experience in this field all together. Therefore, I started working on a project, that aims to improve efficiency and effectiveness of (I)NGOs', local partners' and donors' daily operational activities, and coordination by establishing a common MIS platform. I applied to fundings to organizations such as Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) and private donors.
While, I was still working on the idea development part of the project, I changed my professional career path in order to gain more technical skills while I am still on my young ages. I started working for a small consulting company in a project that aims to increase customer experience by using data mining and analysis.
During this experience I realized how data can be powerful on process improvement, decision making, finding insights, which would be very beneficial for the not for profit organizations. As my goal is still doing something within my expertise for the social good. I started to work on resolving some problems that I faced in my past experiences and would like to continue while I am studying in SPRU;
1) Reaching and serving to the most vulnerable on the first basis is very crucial for many humanitarian assistance projects.Although there have been many publications and intents on standardization on assessment of beneficiaries vulnerability, decision making is relied on field workers who assess vulnerability situations during very limited sessions with the beneficiaries. Human-factor and time lead very different assessments and decisions even in the same service providers. I am working on a model whether a model can be created to segment the beneficiaries on their vulnerability criteria and be use of humanitarian organizations as segmentation is being used by many companies to improve customer experience.
2) Another challenge that I faced during my time in the field was reaching out to the most vulnerable via a community leader for the "community based physiological response" project. I am currently working on whether social network analysis can improve similar responses in the stage of post-emergency.
I believe Sustainable Development programme, will equip me the necessary theoretical background in the field, widen my horizon in the issues of humanitarian and development as well as increase my analytical skills with some optional courses such as Network Analysis and Infographics. Therefore, it will be a building block for my future career pathway, which is working in a position and in a place where I would apply my skills to tackle humanitarian and development problems.
SPRU 50th Anniversary Scholarships (2018) would be a great financial support to my studies and therefore to achieve my personal goals.