After fighting against all odds in life, secretly completing secondary and high school education as her own father stood as an obstacle in her way of receiving education, Sultan Çetinkaya Tahtacı today has a doctorate from Sorbonne University.
Tahtacı, who is currently a guide at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, is preparing to collect her years of experience into a book titled “Okulsuz Köyden Sorbonne’a Bir Başarı Hikayesi” (A Success Story From a Village Without a School to Sorbonne). “I would be happy if it inspires someone. Even if no one reads it, maybe it will be a light for my own children and relatives.”
Pointing out that she went to primary school in another neighborhood as there was no school in hers, Tahtacı said, “All the children who finish school here work in the fields, but I wanted to study because I had a great love of learning and curiosity.”
However, after she finished her primary school education in the western province of Manisa’s Yunusemre district, her father denied her the right to further education. But, she did not give up on her dreams. She started selling eggs and basil to afford open education.
She completed secondary school at the age of 17 and high school at the age of 23.
Tahtacı, who went to a private cram school for preparing the university admission exam with the money she earned from a tomato factory she worked at during the summer, was able to get enrolled in Istanbul’s Yıldız Technical University. While Tahtacı was studying at the university, she was entitled to go to France for the first time via the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange program.
After working as a lecturer at a university following graduation, Tahtacı received an acceptance from the École pratique des hautes études (Practical School of Advanced Studies), a research and higher education institution at Sorbonne University, and completed her doctorate after six years.
“I begged my father until I was 17,” she said. “My father didn’t want me to go to school and prevented me at every step I took to study. I think the greatest achievement in my life is being able to overcome my father.”
Tahtacı said that after she graduated from university, her father called her on the phone to congratulate her and said he was proud of her. “He told me not to listen to him even if I am alone but on the right path.”
“If you have a kindled desire raging over your heart, go after it. On the way to dreams, one has to go through very difficult paths, suffer a lot and make sacrifices. Achieving dreams is not a bed of roses as the world has its own reality,” she added.
Hurriyet Daily News