Cagla Hoskara, a sophomore communication and leadership major, was born in Istanbul, Turkey, grew up in Cyprus, and fell in love with UT Austin in 2018 when she attended a year of high school in Texas.
“I witnessed the value given to education in Texas,” Hoskara said. “I was mesmerized by UT’s learning environment and Austin’s vibes.”
Upon her acceptance to UT Austin, Hoskara applied for the International Education Fee Scholarship (IEFS), which covers up to four years of tuition and related expenses on the Forty Acres. The highly competitive scholarship is awarded annually to one incoming international freshman who faces financial hardships, allowing them to make the most of their time on campus rather than worry about finances. Hoskara’s earlier humanitarian work and artistic talent contributed to her becoming the fourth recipient of this award.
“The IEFS shaped my future,” Hoskara said. “By covering tuition fees at my dream college, the IEFS takes a huge financial burden off of my parents.”
UT’s international connections also can advance Hoskara’s pursuit of her interests in cooperation, peace building and conflict resolution.
“I grew up on an island called Cyprus, which has been divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriots by borders and conflict since 1974,” Hoskara said. “People struggle to establish common ground through negotiation, so I witnessed firsthand the significance of communication strategy and ethical leadership. UT Austin’s communication and leadership degree is an outstanding interdisciplinary program that leads to professions covering all of my interest areas.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoskara attended her first year of the program online from her hometown of Famagusta in the small Mediterranean island country. While remote classes meant she did not have to face immediate culture shock, the virtual setting presented its own unique set of challenges.
“I wanted to get involved on campus and enhance my network, but I was more than a thousand miles away in a different time zone,” Hoskara said. “Since English is not my first language, I sometimes struggled in my classes. But I believe that challenging moments make me stronger. I’ve overcome the language barriers. When I am confused, I feel more comfortable than I used to in asking questions. Each class I took, each person I met, and each professor taught me something new.”
Hoskara used such positivity and initiative to get involved virtually. She joined a first-year interest group, participated in the RISE Summit, and got involved with Planet Longhorn. Then, upon her arrival in Austin, she volunteered at International Student Orientation as a student mentor and social media guru.
“I wanted to help incoming international students by sharing my experiences and providing them with guidance,” Hoskara said. “Even though it was also my first time on campus, I felt like I should get out of my comfort zone and positively contribute to the UT community. I made many friends while volunteering!”
“Believe it when people say everything is bigger in Texas!” Hoskara said. “During my first couple of days on the Forty Acres, I felt so lost and struggled finding my classes. I had only met a few people, yet I saw thousands of students going from one place to the other. However, each day I get better at directions and making new friends.”
Especially now that she’s in Austin, Hoskara plans to take the Forty Acres by the horns.
“I hope to build long-term connections with other UT students and professors, to gain new experiences and learn about new cultures and perspectives,” Hoskara said. “Through sharing my own knowledge and culture, bringing innovative ideas and inspiring others, I look forward to contributing to UT’s diverse learning environment.”