Shevan Murat
Nashville, TN

I am Shevan Murat and I'm One!, One of Tennessee's Best and I want you to be one, too.

I came to Middle Tennessee State University because not only does it offer excellent academic programs in my area of interest, but MTSU is also culturally diverse. Being active in the Nashville Kurdish community, I was attracted to the wide diversity. I wanted to go to a school that was accepting of my culture, as well as others'.

MTSU is a very welcoming campus. Everyone here is truly friendly. When I walk around campus, people smile and stop to talk. It is just like being at home in Nashville. As a matter of fact, it feels just like a second home to me, but not just to me. Other cultures are well represented here - Chinese, Turkish, and many others. The word is out that MTSU is a good school and one that holds both academics and diversity in high esteem.

I have wanted to learn computer programming since I was 12 years old and received my first Apple computer. I wanted to know more about how one of the computer games I really enjoyed playing was made. That started it. Throughout high school, my desire to learn continued and it came time to decide where to go to college. I, of course, turned to my computer for help. I Googled computer programming, then C++ and MTSU was one of the top search results. Since it was so close to home and had such an excellent reputation, I decided it was the place for me.

I was born in a small Kurdish village just before the region came under attack by Saddam Hussein. My family escaped to northern Iraq, then Turkey and eventually to New York before we made our way to Nashville in 1991. The Nashville area is home to more than 12,000 Kurds and has developed a community rich in our native culture. MTSU has embraced our culture and, to me, it seemed natural to become a Blue Raider. My brother and several of our friends also attend classes here and we helped to found the Kurdish Student Association (KSA).

The first event we sponsored was to honor the victims of the 1988 genocide in Halabja, Kurdistan. We began the event with a video which depicted the destruction wrought by the chemical attacks and we invited a survivor to give a testimonial about his experiences during the bombings. There were more than 60 people in attendance including several who had no idea what had happened or the effects that are still felt today.

That is one of the goals of the KSA - to bring knowledge to the forefront. To that end, we are also conducting a series of classes on campus to help inform and instruct others. Another goal is to recruit more Kurdish students to MTSU. Because we are the first school in Tennessee to have Kurdish classes, it is only natural that Kurds would be attracted to a campus where people understand the language and culture of our home. The KSA is also planning to create a documentary to show to high school students who are interested in MTSU and may not have any campus connection. We are also linked to the greater Nashville Kurdish community through the web site, www.nashvillekurds.com.

I spend a great deal of time working on the web site as part of my contribution to the KSA, MTSU, and the Nashville Kurdish community. Because much of what I am learning in the classroom has to do with computer programming, I can adapt that knowledge to real-world experience. I just built a searchable directory on the site so our members can reach out to one another in myriad ways. I have enjoyed experimenting with what I am learning in class and what I tech myself to benefit the community at large.

Family is a rich part of our culture and heritage. We were raised with the understanding and belief that family is an unbreakable unit. I live with my family in Nashville and it is a good thing. I don't get into any trouble and I can spend time studying that I might not otherwise. I work at Opryland on the weekends, so I have learned to budget my time well. My family understands that my major and degree are important to me and require a great deal of time in the computer labs on campus. So at times, I might spend more time on campus than they would like, but they understand that my education is vital to my life goals.

When I graduate form MTSU, I would like to use the skills I have learned to help the Kurdish people. I would like to find a way - either here or there - to help other Kurds advance. In a perfect world, I would like to go back home to the Middle East and use my programming skills to help build a security network. I know my skills will translate well in many areas and I truly want to make a difference.

I'm Shevan Murat and I'm one! Come to Middle Tennessee State University and be one of Tennessee's best, too. You'll be glad you did.