Sera Pekel Selected as Student Speaker for Psychology Graduation Ceremony

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Sera Pekel 2

Graduating senior Sera Pekel has been selected by faculty committee as this year’s student speaker for the Department of Psychology Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony. Pekel, a native of Turkey, describes herself as, “A dedicated Istanbul-ite – if that’s even a word! I’m obsessed with my city.” At age 18, Pekel came to the United States as a Duke undergraduate and recalls with lighthearted humor that she cried for the entire 10-hour flight. “It’s unbelievable how much I’ve grown since,” she says.  Pekel attributes the 8-hour time difference between Istanbul and Durham as part of what’s helped her cultivate independence over the past four years. “I couldn’t just call my Mom and ask her, ‘What do I do now?’”

When asked how Durham compares to Istanbul, Pekel smiles joyfully, “My friends and I are very reflective these days, because we’re graduating. When I first arrived to Durham, I would tell my mom how green it was here – and cute. But, also, what if I’m hungry and want to go out past midnight? Now looking back, I’m amazed by how much I fell in love with Durham, not just with Duke. I was not a nature person before, and now on all my fall breaks I go to Asheville, and I’m like this hiking girl who likes lying in The Gardens and doing the WaDuke Trail. Who would have guessed?”

Pekel, an only-child, will have in attendance at graduation her parents, aunt, and cousin, all traveling together from Turkey. After a brief staycation in Durham – her father’s first visit since she matriculated – Pekel’s family will help her move to New York City where she’ll begin a new position as an analyst at CitiGroup.

Pekel will deliver her speech in Duke Chapel on Sunday, May 12, between 1-2 pm.