CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – International scholar and soon to be alumnus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Mehmet Akif Karaman, is a student of perseverance and hard work in a field dedicated to helping and understanding others. Karaman will graduate with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education on Aug. 6. He is one of 460 students who are earning degrees during Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s summer 2016 commencement, held at the American Bank Center.
Originally from Turkey, Karaman admits that choosing an institution of higher education can be difficult for international students, although he remains firm in his choice to pursue his Ph.D. at the Island University.
“If I had to make the decision again, I would choose Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi every time,” said Karaman. “The faculty at A&M-Corpus Christi gives students an opportunity to do related work in our field and implement our skills before we graduate, which readies us for the workforce.”
Karaman is a current member of the Texas Counseling Association and served as past president of the Texas Association for Humanistic Education and Development. Karaman also served at the TAMU-CC Student Support Center and was the lead school counselor-intern at the Early Childhood Development Center.
“Mehmet exhibits multicultural competence in his ability to work with various populations and diverse settings,” said Dr. Mary Alice Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Counseling and Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Development. “He’s also demonstrated skill in working with children as young as three year-olds, adolescents, peers, parents and faculty.”
Passionate about cross-cultural studies, Karaman has been awarded for his research by A&M-Corpus Christi Counseling Research Consortium. He is also a member of Dr. Robert Smith’s, Professor and Department Chair of Counseling and Education Psychology, research team.
“As a part of Dr. Smith’s team, I have been the primary investigator as well as the second and third author on many studies which focused on cross-cultural studies related to Turkey,” said Karaman. “We adopted instruments to Turkish culture and have studied refugees from different countries such as Kenya, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
A father of two, Karaman accredits his knowledge and success of working with children and adolescents to his family structure.
“Many international students suffer from home-sickness, but I was lucky because I had my biggest support system here with me,” said Karaman. “I found myself bringing my experiences as a father into my job. Sometimes I was a counselor, and other times I would see them as my kids. I felt like a father, but at school.”
During his time at the Island University, Karaman also volunteered as a teaching assistant and taught core courses in the master’s counseling program.
“As a teaching assistant, I was excited but also nervous since I had just received my master’s degree and was now teaching material I learned not too long ago,” said Karaman. “But, the faculty and teachers were very helpful to me, and it was a rewarding experience. It helped prepare me for the future.”
Karaman says he always imaged that he would return to Turkey after receiving his education, but his time in the United States and at the Island University changed his mind.
“I want to stay because I love what I do here,” said Karaman. “People in the United States want me to succeed in my pursuits. They didn’t try to stop me. They encouraged and supported me.”
Karaman recently accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where he will be teaching graduate level counseling courses. In the future, he also hopes to continue his research and work towards creating a connection between the Turkish and United States higher education systems.
With graduation nearing, Karaman says he will remember Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as an institution that helped push him to share his ideas and always encouraged him to speak his mind.
“Productivity is my motivator,” said Karaman. “Believe in yourself and do whatever you need to do – whether that be praying, exercising or being involved with family – to keep yourself happy, positive and productive.”