Zeynep Ozcan

Zeynep Irmak Ozcan

UWC attended: United World College of South East Asia (Singapore)
Class Year: Class of 2028

Hello, I’m Zeynep from UWC South East Asia, East Campus, but you can call me Zey! I had a marvelous two years in Singapore, surrounded by beautiful people who became my chosen family. My friends, from diverse countries, cultures, and lifestyles, became my family, teaching me the true meaning of “chosen family.” I loved sitting on the floor until 3:27 am in my Thai friend’s room, talking about our family lives and how our Indonesian, Turkish, and Bulgarian dads shared similar traits, like standing in front of the TV while watching the most random things. This blending of cultures to create our own was the highlight of my experience. We shared endless chats, explored different parts of the world, and even cried over math homework together. Looking back, I realize how much we appreciated every moment spent together and how genuine those connections were, forged by a group of 16-year-olds who chose to live in another country by themselves.

My UWC experience inspired me to consider Lewis & Clark. On the first or second day of orientation in Singapore, I told my parents how this strange place already felt like home because of its shared appreciation for diversity and peace. I knew Lewis & Clark offered a great education, but what stood out to me was the culture. I sensed a new home waiting for me in Portland, reinforced by the positive feedback from UWC graduates. Of course, the academics, facilities, and the beautiful location also played a role in my decision.

I plan to major in International Relations with a minor in Economics. Growing up in Turkey, a politically engaged country, and in a household that constantly discussed politics and economics, I naturally developed an interest in the state of the world. I want to explore these areas to provide service to people and countries, perhaps as a diplomat or an economic policy consultant.

Outside the classroom, I have many interests, although they are not always consistent. One passion that has stayed with me is modern calligraphy. I love writing words in a fancy way to disconnect from the world for a bit. During the demanding IB stress, I would often spend time practicing calligraphy. I also want to pick up my classical guitar again, as I couldn’t find enough time to practice it during my IB years. Anyone who wants to jam and learn together, let me know!

My whole life, I’ve been called different versions of my names. I have two first names, Zeynep and Irmak. My family always called me Irmak, which means river, but when I started primary school, my teacher decided to call me Zeynep, and it stuck. Since Zeynep is a common Turkish girl’s name, I often had at least two other Zeyneps in my class, so people would call me by various nicknames. When I went to Canada for an exchange, I shortened my name to Zey to make it easier for others to pronounce. In Singapore, people started calling me Zey Zey or Z. Any version is fine as long as I understand you’re referring to me.

I have always been interested in many areas but was often pushed towards mathematics and sciences in Turkey, as they offered more opportunities. Until last year, I was certain I wanted to study astrophysics in university. I love sciences, especially physics, and mathematics, but I have a special interest in politics. In Turkey, science offers more opportunities, so I was always afraid to pursue humanities. However, in Singapore, I realized that people value humanities, and my political and economic interests are what I should specialize in. With my love for math, I hope to engage with economics while still being involved in physics somehow.

I LOVE TRAVELING. In Southeast Asia, traveling was quite accessible, and I spent every break exploring new places. Since my first trip abroad to Canada in 2022, I’ve visited 14 different countries, mostly by myself. Living in SEA and seeing my friends find budget-friendly ways to travel fueled my love for moving around.

I hope to continue building my personality by meeting different people and embracing challenging adventures. I know that Lewis & Clark will be another cornerstone for me, and I look forward to this new challenge!