Güldan Kalem has a story of success and determination, knowing no limits and seeing all the countries as one. Güldan Kalem, who started her career as an elementary school teacher for the Ministry of National Education, changed the course of her career completely when she turned her face towards the West. She knew she had chosen a different path for her future when she applied for the Jean Monnet Scholarship while she was doing her PhD at the European Union Department at the Institute of Social Sciences in Dokuz Eylül University. She did research on her PhD thesis subject, the EU Lifelong Learning Policies and Bologna Process, under the title of the EU Social Policy and Employment at the University of Surrey in England with the Jean Monnet scholarship. When she came back to Turkey, a completely different career was waiting for her.
Could you tell us about yourself? How has your career taken shape so far?
I started my career as an elementary school teacher for the Ministry of National Education in 1990. I did my Master’s on Educational Administration at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in Dokuz Eylül University as I continued teaching. Afterwards, I passed the Ministry of National Education exam for teaching abroad and worked as a teacher in London in 2001. I taught Turkish to children of Turkish families who lived there.
Then I passed another exam of the Ministry of National Education and worked as Deputy Attaché for Education and Acting Education Counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in Washington/USA from 2002 to 2005. I worked as a teacher for a while longer after I returned to Turkey until I was seconded to the European Union and Foreign Affairs Coordination Centre at the İzmir Governorate as a project expert in 2007. At the same time, I started my PhD at the European Union Department at the Institute of Social Sciences in Dokuz Eylül University. I decided to apply for Jean Monnet Scholarship Program with the recommendations of my professors.
Which institution were you working or studying at when you got the Jean Monnet scholarship? Which year?
I was working as a project expert at the European Union and Foreign Affairs Coordination Centre at the İzmir Governor’s Office and working on my PhD (thesis) at the European Union Department in Dokuz Eylül University in the 2009-2010 academic year.
Which university did you attend via Jean Monnet scholarship program? What did you work on as a Jean Monnet scholar?
I did research on my PhD thesis subject, the European Union Lifelong Learning Policies and Bologna Process, under the title of the EU Social Policy and Employment at the University of Surrey in England as a Jean Monnet scholar.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship programme effected your career after you returned to Turkey?
I can’t say that it effected my academic career taking into account that I haven’t completed my doctoral dissertation yet; however, it effected my prestige positively among my colleagues and at my work place.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship program changed your view of the European Union?
I was already a European Union PhD student before I applied to Jean Monnet Scholarship Program so I had knowledge about many topics such as the EU institutions and their duties and the relationship between the EU and Turkey. Jean Monnet Scholarship strengthened the positive thoughts I had had about the EU.
What would you like to advise to Jean Monnet scholarship applicants?
They should choose their Chapter topic carefully and focus on a subject that they can work on actively when they come back to Turkey. Especially public workers should take advantage of this scholarship.
The applicants who will take the English exam should not only focus on the universities in England since there are many other prestigious universities in other countries of Europe in which English is used as the teaching language. In addition, considering that the “acceptance” phase is a long process, the applicants should start early on the application process by looking into possible universities after being accepted to take the written exam.