Ozan Gökdemir is a student at New College of Florida (New College). Originally from Ankara, Turkey, he is the first recipient of a scholarship established by Plymouth Harbor resident Akgun Temizer.

In the summer of 2015, Akgun established a $1.3 million scholarship program specifically for students from his high school in Ankara to attend New College. His desire was to bring Turkish honor students to the United States to study and gain experience so they could graduate, return to Turkey, and apply what they learned here. A few months ago, Akgun generously decided to enlarge his contribution to the scholarship fund with a $1.2 million gift. His reason for doing so?

“I am a changed man from this experience,” Akgun says, referring to his relationship with Ozan. Since his arrival in September 2015, Ozan and Akgun have spent much time together, visiting and discussing his studies, their hometown of Ankara, and more.

Because New College is only able to use the income derived from the scholarship fund, the number of students awarded the scholarship varies year by year. Ozan is the only recipient to date, as the scholarship not only covers out-of-state tuition costs ($30,000 per year), but living expenses and transportation to and from Turkey for breaks and holidays. As a result of Akgun’s recent gift, more students will be given the same opportunity as Ozan.

“Originally, I set up this scholarship in my will, to begin after my passing,” Akgun explains. “I am so glad to have begun it now and be able to see the students grow.”

Akgun has received much recognition for his gifts, both locally and in Turkey. In fact, the foundation in Ankara that works with New College to identify students for the scholarship recently published a 30-year anniversary book that highlights Akgun’s scholarship as the largest contribution in their history.

In a note to Akgun in the anniversary book, Ozan wrote, “I’m blessed to be the first seed to blossom in the shade of this honorable and generous man. Can’t thank you enough, Uncle Akgun.”

This scholarship has undoubtedly changed the lives of both Akgun and Ozan. In 2018, two more students are expected to arrive at New College.

Akgun says he is most pleased to work with New College, adding, “I received the most thoughtful and beautiful holiday gift from MaryAnne Young, president of the New College Foundation. She was so busy at the college and preparing for a trip to Boston for the holidays, but she found time to bring this beautiful gift to me. I am so grateful.”