Interview with Our Campus President


“Help by running,” Prof. Dr. Nazife Baykal, METU Northern Cyprus Campus President, who came in first place in the 21-km track in the Girne Marathon, told the Diyalog.
By Cemre Akar

Prof. Dr. Nazife Baykal, Middle East Technical University (METU) Northern Cyprus Campus President, who participated in the Girne Marathon, won the first place medal in the 21-km run. Expressing her thoughts and feelings, Baykal said, “I am very happy. It was important for me to complete this distance, as an amateur runner.”
Here is how Professor Baykal responded to questions from the Diyalog:

You are a well-known and respectable academician who serves as the President of METU Northern Cyprus Campus. How did the idea first come about to participate in the Marathon?
The Girne Marathon is not the first marathon that I have run. I previously ran the Antalya, Istanbul and Nicosia marathons. Over time, I started to run longer distances as I gained more experience as a runner. I was motivated by the idea that I could raise funds for the METU Northern Cyprus Campus Scholarship Fund. When I run a marathon, friends of METU make donations to the Scholarship and Support Fund, which supports students in need of assistance. There is a different pleasure in running for such a beautiful purpose.

As a non-professional marathon runner, you must find it difficult to run 21 km. So how do you manage it?
I do not feel alone as I run. I feel the spirit of camaraderie of the METU family.
Our students support me through social media channels, as I prepare for running a marathon, and they make every effort to raise more money for the Fund. Their earnest attempts give me the energy I need for running, and I feel happy when I receive congratulation messages, from students in particular. In addition, the social media sharing that I am observing and participating in after each marathon that I have succesfully completed makes me feel happy.

Do your have any other purpose apart from raising donations for the Fund?
Yes. I want to show my students that it is possible to complete a journey, despite all obstacles, once you set off. I sometimes have to compete with more professionally trained, and clearly better prepared, runners who are in the same league as me. Likewise, in educational life, your fellows might be better prepared than you. Sometimes, there might be those who make a good move and obtain an advantage as soon as the race starts. But I always aim to do my best in the race. Thinking of the distance left, my supporters and the pleasure I will have when arriving at the finish line motivate me to keep running when I get tired. My message to my students is, thus, clear: “Never give in, keep running!”

“Never give in. Keep running even when you feel tired, or left behind!” Is that the message you want to convey to your students?
Exactly. At METU, they are experiencing their educational journey, in some way, a marathon, which includes phases that might be challenging and laborious. There might be those who have a higher capacity for running. The important thing is not to give in and putting every effort in completing this journey.
This is what I am doing while participating in marathons.
My job requires me to be engaged in desk-bound work and, in fact, I am not so young anymore. Though I complete the track once I start running, thinking of those who support me with this project.

Are you supported particularly by members of the METU community when you run marathons?
No, of course not. Here in Northern Cyprus we live together with very nice people who are highly conscious of others and willing to take action to improve the lives of others. When I announce my campaigns for marathons, many people, including non-members of METU, make meaningful contributions so far as possible. All these contributions together, regardless of the amount, change the lives of METU students.