Name: Serpil Rawson
Profession/Industry: Financial Investment
Current U.S. Position and Company Name: Financial Investment Associate, Figure 8 Investment
Country of Origin: Turkey
Education: Bachelor of Economics from Kocaeli University, Kocaeli, Turkey
First Job in U.S.: Customer Service Representative
Story Author: GTI Volunteer Keith York
I met Serpil late one afternoon after work. She patiently waited for me as I went to the wrong building (in the wrong part of town) and then got stuck in the stairwell of her office when I finally did arrive. Upon my rescue I was greeted with a smile and a degree of… excitement we’ll call it. This story is largely about the source of that excitement.
Serpil is from the Northwestern Province of Kocaeli in Turkey. Unlike many of the people I’ve met through GTI she didn’t come here as a refugee. She met a man who was visiting from the US – from someplace called ‘Boise.’ He loved the country and was learning to speak Turkish, she told me with a degree of pride, and was just trying to meet people. Long story short, they fell in love, got married and she and her son left their home, their extended family and their culture and moved to the other side of the world. So, Serpil’s story is a little different than many, but it’s also the same.
She left Turkey as a successful, educated financial professional and arrived in Boise knowing nobody, with the exception of her husband, and with little credibility as someone who was employable. In Turkey, Serpil was a highly regarded Financial Investment Manager at a leading Turkish brokerage firm and had a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from a distinguished university. Here? She emphasized how lonely it was at first. Her husband worked and her son was in school. With no family, no friends and no ‘home’ here, it was psychologically very hard. With a little luck and perseverance, she found a job as a Customer Service representative at the LA-Z Boy Furniture Store.
Fortunately, her son, age 10, was doing so well in his school’s English Learner program that he won an Academic Achievement award. It was when she asked the school if they knew of programs for adults that they directed her to Global Talent Idaho (GTI). From here the story takes another somewhat unique turn.
Serpil’s introduction to GTI was, in her words, ‘Life Changing.’ She met other people in her exact situation and suddenly she wasn’t so alone anymore. She also, of course, met the staff at GTI. But there’s one person in the GTI Family that not everyone meets. This somewhat silent partner is Lisa Leff Cooper, one of GTI’s co-founders. When Lisa met Serpil, she decided to take on her mentorship personally while she…wait for it…is starting her own socially responsible investment company, Figure 8 Investment Strategies. And here is where the excitement I mentioned earlier really kicks in.
As you might have guessed, Serpil is now gainfully employed, in her area of expertise, at Figure 8 Investment Strategies. (Lisa used to be an Ice Skater). And it turns out the ‘excitement’ is really gratitude. Given the tremendous turnaround in her life in the last year, meeting GTI, who helped her develop a professional resume and introduced her to Lisa (who she can’t speak highly enough of), getting back to work and overcoming some health challenges she had when she got here, she’s overwhelmingly gracious. It’s infectious!