Gizem Karaali arrived in Berkeley from Turkey; she expected an international environment. However, "the stimulating environment of I-House was far beyond my expectations. The House is not just a residence hall but a center for intellectual development."
Gizem was attracted to Berkeley because of its unique inter-disciplinary program, Logic and Methodology of Science. She was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study engineering in the US but declined so that she could come to Berkeley for the Ph.D. program in logic. "Berkeley is the perfect place to study both mathematics and philosophy."
Gizem is the eighth recipient of the Rafael Rodriquez/Golden Age (RR/GA) Scholarship which was established by I-House alumni from the "Golden Age" (1946-'52) to honor their fellow alumnus, Rafael Rodriquez from Costa Rica. The room and board scholarship and stipend is awarded annually to "a foreign student of great promise but without the resources to live in the U.S." For the first time in 1998-'99, two awards will be made as a result of growth of the fund.
When she received news of the RR/GA Scholarship award, "It was like a dream that can't possibly come true." To the alumni who support the scholarship she adds a special message, "This was a great chance you provided for me. Thank you!"
"Berkeley offers a fascinating combination of pure mathematics, mathematical logic, and the foundations and philosophy of science, each of which brings different perspectives."
"The experience of living in I-House is exciting and challenging. People from many different parts of the world have really helped me shape my views and understand others. I've made good friends with people from Hong Kong, Spain -- places I never really knew about. I-House is a good opportunity to get to know other cultures, different points of view, and it is a successful experiment in living together among very different ideas and opinions. I've seen new perspectives that make me more hopeful about problems in my own country."
Gizem completed bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and math at the prestigious Bogazici University (formerly Robert College) in Istanbul. "The electrical engineering program was challenging but I wanted to do mathematics, not just use it. Math courses helped me peep behind the curtains of the mystery of numbers and introduced new questions, for instance that of sets and the concept of infinity."
In addition to academic interests, Gizem enjoys Turkish, English, and American literature. In Turkey, she was an active spelunker, enjoying summer explorations in deep caves throughout Turkey but hasn't yet found the time to explore caves in California. Gizem's father is an electrical engineer and her mother is a professor of nutritional science. An older sister is also in college.
Gizem plans to return to Turkey after she completes her Ph.D. in 2002. She hopes to teach on the university level, perhaps classes on the philosophy of mathematics. "Istanbul is my home. I want to learn what I can while I'm here but there is my home."
Gizem Karaali, Rafael Rodriquez/Golden Age Scholarship recipient from Turkey.