I am Gizem Yolcu (she/her/hers) – an English Instructor from Turkey. I was born in Antakya/Hatay which is one of the Mediterranean cities of Turkey. I had my Valedictorian degree from an Anatolian high school and registered at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ/METU) in 2014.

During my college years, I played an active role in society initiative projects such as collecting school materials and books for the students studying in rural areas of Turkey and setting up European Union Youth Exchange Projects to raise global awareness on worldwide issues. In 2016, I was the head of a student club, ODTÜ KÖPRÜ (METU BRIDGE). In the same year, I was awarded as a mentee in the ODTÜMİST Mentoring project. I worked with my mentors towards my career development. After getting my mentee certificate, I started to mentor METU freshmen students toward college life adaptation and personal development. In my junior year, I worked as a shadowman in a TEDx Event organized by METU. I was part of the communication team of TEDxMETUAnkara and participated in the organisation of “Büyük Yanılsamalar”. Similar to that, afterwards, I became part of an international teaching conference known as Teaching Beyond Boundaries. During this three-day event, I had the privilege of meeting academics from all over the world, which led me to research more on English studies and English Education in Turkey.

Being an independent woman, in 2018, I attended Erasmus Internship Program and travelled to Poland. I worked as an English Instructor in Kontakt CJO which is a private language course in the city of Poznan. There, I had the opportunity of discovering European culture and introducing Turkish culture. I graduated from Middle East Technical University as an English Teacher in 2019 as an honour student.

My passion of academia led me to draw my path toward getting a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Middle East Technical University. Besides being a graduate student, I was working as an English Instructor at a private university in Turkey. In addition, thanks to my enthusiasm for mentoring and coaching, I was promoted to co-coordinator of the peer mentoring project of ODTÜMİST. For 2020 – 2021, I was awarded Fulbright Scholarship as a Teaching Assistant. During that academic year, I taught Turkish to the elementary and intermediate levels at the University of Washington, Seattle.  Besides, I organised Turkish-speaking clubs and online cultural events due to COVID 19. I was also the intern manager of the Turkish Oral History project conducted by Dr Yücel Koç. I managed and motivated 9 interns who are also undergraduate students of UW.

Currently, I am about to graduate with a Master’s degree in Digital Education Leadership program of Seattle Pacific University (June 2023). My passion for digitalization, research and practice has led me to search for different opportunities that can broaden my horizons and deepen my understanding in both research and practice. I was lucky in my research that I came across with an internship opportunity in PATH and have recently started to work as an intern in Epidemic Preparedness and Response Team. As a newly admitted PhD student of the University of Washington, my future goals are to research more on digitalization, to seek for technology accessibility for disabilities and to build diversity, equity and inclusion.