(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.
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at email@example.com, and we will consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.
Read the stories of other UTSA students, faculty, staff and alumni on the Meet a Roadrunner website.
The three-day workshop for graduate students and professionals in historic preservation focuses on materials preservation common to the San Antonio Missions. It's free and open to the public.
BVB 1.326, Downtown Campus
UTSA offers science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, and language and culture camps for kids and teens all summer long.
Various locations on all 3 campuses
The 2nd annual symposium will showcase presentations by researchers from national, Texas, and San Antonio academic institutes and pharmaceutical companies. Advanced registration is required.
UC, Denman Ballroom, Main Campus
The 45th annual festival is the biggest cultural celebration in Texas. More than 40 different cultural groups in Texas are represented as guests celebrate their culture and heritage.
Institute of Texan Cultures grounds
Undergraduate using her anthropology research at UTSA to shed light on family detention centers
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.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.