Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen: Cognitive Psychology and Language Acquisition

Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen

Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen
B.A. June 2009 Summa Cum Laude
Cognitive Psychology and Language Acquisition
McNair Research Scholarship
Commitment to Excellence Forerunner Award
Summerfield Scholarship
John Jay College Upper Division Scholarship
Psi Chi Honor Society
Dean’s List

“Carrying three different student IDs with me always reminded me of my intercultural heritage and instantly made me feel at home,” says Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen.

Yuksel-Sokmen grew up in a tri-lingual household in Germany. “I realized that my multicultural identity was not heavy baggage anymore to travel with, but mosaic pieces of myself. Carrying the German, Turkish and Laz cultures inside me, I learned to celebrate their synthesis and to pick out the best of them to adapt to new situations.” After completing a training course in Berlin, she began teaching computer and foreign language courses to immigrant and low-income children and adults in a community-based project funded by the government, and she realized that teaching language skills to children was her passion. When she moved to NYC in 2004, she continued to teach German and in fact began teaching German to children at the U.N. School. She enrolled in John Jay College in 2006 and a few credits later entered CUNY BA. “I was always intrigued to find out how children acquire and develop languages. Now I wanted to better understand the mental processes involved.”

In 2008, Yuksel-Sokmen was accepted to the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program at John Jay College. McNair prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. She has had three manuscripts accepted for publication with the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences. She completed her self-designed area of concentration under the guidance of Dr. Angela Crossman, Psychology, John Jay, with courses from John Jay, Baruch, Hunter and The Graduate Center. CUNY BA awarded her 15 life experience credits for her prior work in public health, website design and business. In her senior year, she worked as a tutor for ESL students for the Hunter College Writing Center, as a peer mentor at John Jay, and she also served on the University Committee on the CUNY Baccalaureate.

Yuksel-Sokmen has worked in Dr. Virginia Valian’s Research and Language Acquisition Lab at Hunter as a volunteer research assistant. Now she is volunteering in Dr. Gill Grose-Fifer’s Neurophysiology Lab at John Jay exploring sensory and cognitive functions, such as decision making in adolescents and adults, with the use of the EEG. At the same time, she is collaborating with the famous smell scientist Avery Gilbert under the tutelage of Dr. Diana Reiss and Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic. Her independent research project is on mental imagery, especially how people imagine the sense of smell. She says “There is a lot of literature about visual and acoustic imagery, yet little research on olfactory imagery; our mission will be to evoke the sense of smell in a multimodal way.”