Defining anecdote: During the summer after my sophomore year, I was playing with sand castles at 2 a.m. on North Beach, and that was the “aha” moment for my first patent, for a product related to hand hygiene. I currently have four projects in the works at Design for America [a Northwestern-based, award-winning national initiative using design to have a local and social impact].
Turning point: I went to an informational meeting for Design for America, and the hair on my arms stood up. I’ve been designing ever since.
Favorite Northwestern class? Invention and Innovation, taught by James Conley. It taught me the value of a good idea.
Your biggest vice? Riding my longboard [a type of skateboard] without a helmet. I’m getting better though.
Top accomplishment: When I was 10 years old, I learned how to speak English through video games. There’s this game called Grim Fandango, and it takes place on the Day of the Dead. My motivation was to understand the video game because it was in English.
Your greatest adventure? Traveling along the north coast of Turkey, along the shores of the Black Sea, with my best friends from high school before college. It was awesome.
What’s next? Continuing with Design for America as a leader and evangelist. And I’ll pursue the entrepreneurial path and commercialize one of the projects I’ve developed in the past years. I’m definitely staying in the States for the next three to five years. Probably in my late 20s I will go back to Turkey. That’s where my heart lies.
Dream job? Quite simple: running my own entrepreneurial innovation lab that works toward creating a world that is economically, ecologically, equitably and elegantly enjoyed.