(July 23, 2014) -- Meet Sumeyra Tek. For the last four years, the 31-year-old native of Turkey and her husband have been helping families fleeing persecution from their native homelands adjust to their new lives in San Antonio.
As a child in Turkey, Tek was curious and possessed a thirst for knowledge. That curiosity led her to pursue a career in science and earn bachelor's and master's degrees in physics.
In 2009, she moved to San Antonio with her husband, a mathematics professor, and their newborn daughter, Hafsa. The following year, she enrolled at UTSA to pursue her doctoral degree in physics. She currently is a researcher in the Functional Nanomaterials Research Laboratory studying rare earth materials. Tek has taught a few semesters as a teaching assistant but hopes to eventually teach full time.
She and her husband Suleyman have been active in the international community, meeting and welcoming refugee families in San Antonio. The couple also takes area college students to meet the families and assist with home restoration service projects.
Recently, Tek volunteered at The Dialog Institute of the Southwest in Northwest San Antonio, where she helped organize events to celebrate different cultures and faiths. One of the events, "Women's Table Talk," featured a speaker discussing dangerous refugee conditions and the challenges they face adapting to life in a new society.
Last month, the pair participated locally in the sixth annual World Refugee Day Festival. Refugees representing more than 21 countries were in attendance.
"It was nice to see my daughter and three-year-old son, Erkan, playing with refugee children on the playground and watching them enjoy music and dances from all around the world," said Tek. "Every culture has its own values and offers something we all can learn from. Respect and love are values we all need, but first we have to come together and get to know each other better."
A United Nations report shows more than 43 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced due to conflict and persecution. Every minute, eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.
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Read the stories of other UTSA students, faculty, staff and alumni on the Meet a Roadrunner website.
The UTSA community welcomes students to their on-campus home! Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall are home for 2,300 students during the academic year, and Move-In event kicks off the start of Roadrunner Days.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village, Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
The College of Engineering hosts this seminar featuring Jeff Adams, Southwest Zone Quality Manager, Siemens Building Technologies Division. The event is free and open to the public.
Engineering Building (EB 3.04.30), Main Campus
This is a terrific opportunity for incoming transfer students to network with staff that serve our veteran, non-traditional, and transferring students, as well as meet transfer peer mentors who can help answer questions about UTSA.
Main Building ground floor lobby, Main Campus
After a day full of moving and getting settled into their new UTSA home, students and their families can have some refreshments and snacks at the Welcome Back Reception. The event tops off with the premiere performance of the Spirit of San Antonio, UTSA's Marching Band.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
Can you survive the library wilderness? As a part of Roadrunner Days, UTSA Libraries is hosting a mobile adventure for you to play and find out more about the library!
John Peace Library, 2nd floor, Main Campus
Come meet your UTSA Volleyball Team as they gear up for the 2017 season! The game begins at 5 p.m. then the team will hold an autograph and photo session after the game.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
This engaging discussion pulls back the covers on hooking up, clarifying when it’s actually sexual violence and how bystanders can protect potential victims from predators.
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Late Night at the Rec is an awesome UTSA tradition that transforms a standard information session into an exciting night of fun. At this annual event, you’ll be able to learn about our facilities, recreation programs, and wellness services offered at Main and Downtown Campuses.
Recreation and Wellness Center, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.