What brought Turks to Massachusetts?

Mehmet Kanik, a postdoctoral fellow in the Simons Center for Social Brain at MIT, works at the lab. (Photo credit: Mehmet Kanik)

By Sumeye Dalkilinc

Massachusetts, which has hosted many foreigners in recent years, has also become one of the first addresses for Turks who prefer America for better education, job opportunity and professional life.

The USA is one of the most preferred addresses for Turks who travel all over the world for a better future. Significant waves of Turkish immigration to the United States began during the period between 1820 and 1920.

Every year since 1920, thousands of Turks come to America, a country of dreams, and live here. And Massachusetts is one of the most popular states in the USA for Turks.

According to the 2000 United States Census 117,575, Americans claimed Turkish descent. (Table credit: Sumeye Dalkilinc)

Because the state is at the top of the list in many subjects. Top-notch schools, a high proportion of safe neighborhoods and the high median incomes in the country are some of the things that makes Massachusetts one of the best states for people who are looking for a new hometown.

MIT or Harvard University, two of Massachusetts’ oldest universities, includes many Nobel Prize-winners. In fact, some of Nobel Prize winners have worked at Massachusetts universities,

Rainer Weiss, a physicist at MIT, Richard Royce Schrock, a chemist at MIT, Michael Robert Kremer, is a development economist at Harvard University, and William G. Kaelin, a scientist at Harvard University, are some of those.

“Go to Kendall Square, you’ll surely come across a Nobel prize-winning scientist while walking down the road,” says Mehmet Kanik, a 33-year-old postdoctoral fellow in the Simons Center for Social Brain at MIT, is one of the Turks who chose Massachusetts to live, addressing that the state has so many successful people from all world.

Kanik, who works on fiber technologies, was investigating schools across the world to jump to a higher level of academia after his postdoctoral studies at Bilkent, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey. He applied to the world’s most respected 30 schools from Europe to America.

Kanik was accepted by many good schools, including MIT and Oxford. However, he preferred MIT “because I already knew the team that works in here about the fiber technologies,” he says. “Apart from that, MIT is already one of the best in the world. So I chose MIT,” says Kanik.

Bengisu Ozbay, a 27-year-old, Ph.D. candidate in engineering at Northeastern University, says that the state offers a lot of opportunities for students, both socially and academically, in terms of having many schools together.

“Many of these schools have proven their success not only in the United States but throughout the world,” says Ozbay. “This allows people to meet many people who open their horizons while living here.”

“Massachusetts is a state where the offices and start-up companies of internationally recognized companies are concentrated. This creates an environment that attracts not only academically, but also the industry’s good work and attracts those who want to improve themselves,” says Ozbay.

In the state where world-renowned schools and companies are located, people from a variety of countries come to study and work, creating a diverse environment. “Unfortunately, this is not the case in every city and school,” says Ozbay, adding that students in other cities may want to change schools and come to Massachusetts because of the diversity.

Many colleges in Massachusetts have proven their success not only in the USA but also around the world by attracting some of the world’s best students. “This allows people to meet many people who are great while living here,” she says.

In the state that attracts the best students of the world with its good schools, the state residents age 25 and older, 44.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of any state. Because the state has a good talent pool, many companies’ offices are located in Massachusetts as well. This makes the state attractive to those who want to work in good companies.

Gokhan Uzunbas says that there are smart, motivated people in the state. (Photo credit: Sumeye Dalkilinc)

“There are lots of smart, motivated people around,” says Gokhan Uzunbas, a research scientist at Facebook, addressing that the state attracts these successful people.

“Frankly, I like being here. I feel good when I’m walking on the campuses of MIT and Harvard by the river in Cambridge because I am part of the ratio,” says he, who have moved to Massachusetts after earning a doctorate degree at a university in New York State.

The state with high-income residents is also an attraction point for business owners. Among state residents age 25 and older, 44.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of any state. Americans with a college education are generally qualified for a wider range of high-paying jobs, and in Massachusetts, the typical household has an income of nearly $80,000 a year, far more than the median household income nationwide of about $62,000.

Cenk Emre, who has been working in companies as a professional for many years after earning an MBA degree from Northwestern University, is one of the Turks who stepped into entrepreneurship in the state.

Emre, who has been closely acquainted with the consumer base in the state over the years since he worked in consultancy companies, has opened his own business, a grocery store named Freerange Market in 2019.

“An opportunity occurred and I wanted to take advantage of it. Massachusetts was the state that provides this opportunity to me,” says Emre. “Because I had been working in the consultancy companies for years. I knew the clients here well and developed strategies for brands.”

About Sumeye Dalkilinc 4 Articles
Sumeye Dalkilinc is an award-winning economics reporter who has worked since 2009. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, and Anadolu Agency. She’s now the research assistant at Emerson College in Boston, MA.