Position: Muslim Chaplain
Years at Duke: 3
What I do at Duke is:Ministry and teaching. I teach Islam in theDivinity School, and I provide faith-based religious leadership to the roughly 500 Muslim Blue Devils among the 14,000 undergraduates and graduate students at Duke. And I try to raise the Muslim voice at Duke.
If people want to start a conversation with me, they should ask me about: Food. I grew up in Turkey. I lived in Southeast Asia. I'm 37, and I've been to 49 countries. Food, in the context of diversity, they should ask about that.
If I had $5 million, I would: put it into primary and middle school education, particularly for those kids who need an opportunity to thrive, early on, before life mistreats them in such a way that it is difficult to reverse bad patterns.
My first ever paying job was: as a waiter in Yashar, a famous ice cream shop in Marash, my hometown in Turkey. I was useless as a waiter - I wasn't strong, and I spilled things. But I had studied German, and there were many German tourists, so they used me as an interpreter.
My dream job is: What I am doing now. I love walking with people on their faith journeys, their life journeys, their professional journeys, their relationship journeys. God Almighty has allowed me to land in a job where that is part of my job description.
The best advice I ever received was: from my daughter Zainab, when she was 6, and I came back from visiting Duke. I had fallen in love with Duke at first sight - just like I did with my wife. But I was still deciding whether to accept the job. Zainab told me, "If it makes you happy, just go for it."
What I love about Duke is: Duke's global ambitions. Duke wants to engage with the world; to bring the world to Duke and take Duke to the world.
When I'm not at work I like to: get involved in every opportunity that I have to respond to the craziness of post 9/11 American Islamophobia. I do everything I can to mirror this un-American reality to Americans to show them it doesn't make a better society. I try to find ways to see how we can recover from this increasing amount of poison and hate.
If I could have one superpower, it would be: the ability to alleviate all human suffering. But for now, I simply try to follow the Holy Qur'an's most repeated advice: "Do you love your Lord ? Then, go and serve your fellow human being..."