This is the story of a woman who taught me everything I know: My mother, Sabahat Buruloğlu, or Sabuş as we called her. She lived by three core values throughout her life: hard-work, gratitude, and dedication. Her motto was “Work hard. Cherish life. And, always move onward and upward.” Her ideals resonated not only with me but with everyone around me. She was one of those incredible people who were not defined by an age and could be friends with a young child or an elderly person easily. She was the best confidant to my friends as she talked to them over her right-out-of-the-oven delicious cookies. She was the inspiration as she shared her life story with my son’s friends. She was the backbone of our family as she comforted us through difficult times. Everyone around her was nourished by her contagious joy and wisdom. Sadly, she passed away in 2013 at the age of 86. As we remembered her with a bittersweet smile on our faces, we realized that we wanted to do more than simply re-living our memories. We wanted her legacy to live forever and to touch lives just like she touched ours. That is when TPF came into the picture. TPF provided us with a platform to establish a scholarship fund in our “Mother Queen’s” memory.Born in 1927, my mother was the first generation of women who went to college after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. As a child who grew up in Ataturk’s era, she adopted his visionary principles including right to secular education and equal rights to women. Most importantly, she was a true believer in continuous progressive change. I remember looking at the telephone directory for attorneys at home when I was a little girl and feeling proud. It was a really thin book since there were only a few hundred lawyers in Turkey at the time. Only a dozen of them were women and my mother was one of them. She studied law to implement and defend the progressive ideas of the new Turkish Republic in the judicial system. She specialized in juvenile law as she cared deeply about the protection and well-being of children. It was inevitable that she took on the role of a mother in the courtroom as she worked tirelessly to make a positive impact in the lives of Turkish children.
My mother has always been my biggest support. She even made the move to the US with my father after I have decided to relocate to New Jersey with my husband, Murat, as we struggled to create a simple life for ourselves in the tense political climate of Turkey in late 1970s. My mother adapted fairly well to her new life in the US. Soon after they moved to New Jersey, she was being called ‘grandma’ by all of our neighbors. It was her kindness and caring for children, which gave her this title. Years passed as we celebrated her birthdays. She showed no signs of old age at all. She kept reading two to three books a week, sent text messages from her smart phone, read newspapers online, and even took Erman to the Knicks games. It was when she passed away that we realized she was living way beyond her age.
My mother always told us how lucky she was to go to college as a woman. All her life, she reminded us of the importance of education, and how every girl deserves a chance to receive an education to excel in life, just as she had. Her dream was to financially support female law students someday. As she focused on defending equal rights in the courtroom, she never had the time to focus on her commitment to equal education for girls. As we miss her deeply, it was my husband, Murat, who came up with an amazing idea to bring the memory of our Mother Queen back to life. Murat admired my mother’s huge heart and immense intellect, and continues to do so. He might be one of the very few people who has a photo of his mother-in- law on his office desk. His idea was perfect: We were going to establish a scholarship fund in her name and support female law students.
Once Murat encouraged us to roll up our sleeves to turn her dream into a reality with a scholarship fund, we knew where to go. TPF enabled us to establish an endowed scholarship fund in her name: Sabuş Education Memorial Fund. Since 2014, we are supporting female law students at her alma mater, Istanbul University Law School through Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG). I know my mother, being herself, is smiling with delight looking over us. The scholarship we established and the students we’re supporting are exactly what she would have wanted us to do in her name and honor. This fund is only the beginning to share with the world how much she continues to mean to our family.