Grandfather travels 6,000 miles to attend grandson’s Convocation at UW Bothell

From left, Yavuz Colakoglu, Yaman Harut, and Harut
From left, Yavuz Colakoglu, Yaman Harut, and Harut's parents Ozalp and Betul. Colakoglu traveled 6,000 miles from Turkey to see his grandson's Convocation.
— image credit: Contributed photo/UW Bothell

First year students at UW Bothell’s eighth annual Convocation were surrounded by hundreds of faculty, staff, student leaders and family. Convocation is an event steeped in academic tradition. It is a way of welcoming those first year students and saying, “we are here to support you through your higher education journey.”

Yaman Harut, a Redmond High School graduate, was excited to be part of this ceremony that would welcome him to the Husky family. His parents, Ozalp and Betul, would witness their son participate in the tradition of receiving his “W” pin and shaking the hand of the chancellor. They would watch him become part of one of the most prestigious public universities in the country. But what made Yaman’s experience priceless was the presence of one distinguished looking gentleman in the audience. His grandfather, Yavuz Colakoglu, traveled 6,000 miles from Turkey to attend Convocation.

“He always likes to be there for the next step,” said Yaman, as his grandfather shook his head in agreement. “He’s ceremonial about things, but I’m really glad he is.”

Ozalp says it was at Yaman’s elementary school convocation in Turkey that his grandfather promised that he would be present to celebrate all of Yaman’s educational accomplishments.

“At that time, he didn’t know that this one was going to be 6,000 miles away,” laughed Ozalp, a longtime Microsoft employee.

The family moved from Ankara, Turkey three years ago, but even though it meant crossing the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Ozalp said he knew he did not have to talk Yavuz into coming.

“I was 100 percent sure he was coming.” Yavuz shrugged, “If you promise, you have to do it.”

“6,000 miles is a clear sign of the family’s support,” said UW Bothell Chancellor Wolf Yeigh. “Yaman’s presence is also symbolic of the type of diversity we have among our students and the global perspective they bring to the higher education experience.”

Yeigh said he hopes to see Yaman’s grandfather at commencement in four years as his grandson completes another chapter of lifelong learning. Yaman and his parents are counting on it. After all, a promise is a promise.

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