Law student finds his passion in book collection effort
Profile of Yahya Yuksel, 1L student
Yahya Yuksel was 8 when he first came to the Arizona Law campus. He tagged along with his dad who was a law school student.
Now 22, Yahya, is a student here himself. He's part of Arizona Law's dynamic and diverse Centennial Class and he's continuing a family legacy of service, leadership, and scholarship.
Yuksel's father, Edip Yuksel, is a writer and philosophy teacher and recently co-translated the Reformist Translation of the Quran. Yuksel's mother is a dietician in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center.
Yuksel and his father share some of the same professors. One is Professor Leslye Obiora.
"My father and she kept in contact through out the years," Yuksel said.
Last spring Yuksel began working with Professor Obiora as her research assistant while he finished his undergraduate degree in marketing at the University of Arizona. He researched ways that successful NGOs worked in developing countries. As part of her spring sabbatical, Obiora designed ways that developing countries in Africa could build stronger infrastructure to support more philanthropy and programs that would support agriculture, women's small businesses, affordable housing, and micro-lending organizations.
Prof Obiora is founder of the Institute for Research on African Women, Children & Culture. She was born in Nigeria and served as the Nigerian Minister of Mines in 2006 and 2007. She is often not content to just write about solutions, she wants to be part of making them happen. One is the need to improve literacy in Nigeria.
Obiora and Bob Oldfather, the founder of Bookmans in Tucson, are friends. Together they came up with a plan to send 100,000 books to Nigeria. She turned the project over to Yuksel this summer.
Yuksel brought together several organizations to sort and fill a shipping crate with kid's books, textbooks, biographies and more. The first railroad-car-sized shipping crate has already been sent to a community library in northern Nigeria. Yuksel is now organizing volunteers to fill four more containers, ultimately sending about 100,000 books to three communities in Nigeria.
"Most kids there don't own a book. So it's so exciting to them. They cherish it," Yuksel said.
"I was really happy every time we came across a text book. An actual school text book they could use in their own schools."
Serving others has always been part of who Yuksel is and he said he can see himself serving in government some day. In his junior year of college he served as chair of the city of Tucson's Human Relations Commission. The commission is funded by the city to study discrimination within the community and encourage mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among all groups within the Tucson Metropolitan Community. In 2009 he ran city councilwoman's Karen Ulrich's re-election campaign.
"Right now the law is more my interest, in the judicial side," he said. "I'm not sure right now if I want to be a lawyer. But I know this is the right place for me right now."
"This is an awesome opportunity. It's such a small school with so many bright people, that it is going to develop my capacity for deep discussions and critical thinking. Reading and writing are important parts of it." Yuksel said. "These are talents for life."
Above photo: Yahya Yuksel, second from left, with volunteers from Kappa Alpha fraternity and Northwestern Mutual, sort through books at the Bookman's warehouse to send to Nigeria.