May 24, 2011, The Charleston Gazette - CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- The Turkish Coalition of America announced its new Robert C. Byrd Memorial Scholarship Program for Turkish-Americans in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Tuesday.
The new fund will provide scholarships of $5,000 a year to Turkish-Americans from 13 states in the Appalachian region who want to pursue careers related to public service and public policy, including law, journalism and politics.
The scholarships will be a tribute to the late Sen. Byrd's longtime commitment in promoting a strong alliance between the United States and Turkey.
G. Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America, said, "We wanted to do something for the late Senator Robert C. Byrd. He was such a good friend of Turkey in speaking up when Turkey needed friends and allies.
"In a scholarship program for young Turkish-American students, what better role model is there than Senator Byrd? We were very excited."
McCurdy said Byrd was "one of the most dedicated public servants this country has ever seen."
Speakers at Tuesday's event included: Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.; and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
"Turkey was always the underdog," McCurdy said. "Senator Byrd understood. He was a self-made man. When he got in a position of leadership, he wanted to help out.
"Byrd saw how the Turkish republic was created in the Ottoman Empire's ashes at the end of World War I. The country had been destroyed by war. It had to rebuild its economy, establish a new identity and re-create itself. That caught Senator Byrd's attention.
"Senator Byrd was always warmly received in Turkey. We are excited to name a scholarship after him," McCurdy said.
When Byrd died last June, the Turkish Coalition of America praised him as the "driving force behind the creation of the Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project, an initiative to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment programs, and to build a long-lasting and mutually meaningful relationship between the 13 Appalachian states and Turkey."
Begun in 2000, the trade project is now an official program of the U.S. Commercial Service, whose staff in Turkey and the U.S. works with Appalachian businesses to identify reciprocal investment and business opportunities in Turkish cities including: Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Adana.
The nonprofit Turkish Coalition seeks to promote stronger relations between the two countries in the areas of politics, foreign affairs, the arts and entertainment.
McCurdy said there may by as many as 1 million Americans with some Turkish background. But today, there are no national legislators, or any state senators, who are Turkish-American.
McCurdy hopes the new scholarship program will inspire young Turkish-Americans to higher levels of political activism.
Brian Wagner, from the Washington public relations firm of Brown Lloyd and James, said, "The scholarship is being created with the support of the Byrd family."
Turkish-American group creates Byrd scholarship
- Armenian supporters skeptical of ties between Turkey, Indian tribesread more
- US Congress Adopts Law Permitting Turkish Companies to Hold Trade With Americaread more
- Turkey-Native American free trade bill approved in committeeread more
- Turkish, Native American free trade bill approvedread more
- Legislative Bills, Turkish Business Could Help Tribal Economic Developmentread more
- Bill to give boost to tribe-Turkey business linksread more
- Turkey may get exclusive US right to trade with native Indiansread more
- Syria to test Turkish-American partnership...read more
- Yıldız Palace hosts rare exhibit of tribal photosread more
- Draft Offers Preferential Trade Between Turkey, American Indiansread more
- Proposed Legislation Advocates Trade Between Indian Country and Turkeyread more
- TCA Awards Major Grant to American Friends of Turkeyread more
- Political Landscape: Schiff still fighting for genocide resolutionread more
- Turkish-American group creates Byrd scholarshipread more
- TCA, TCF Host Historic Dinner with House Speakerread more
- Turkish lobby group in US celebrates 10th anniversaryread more
- Turkish Coalition presents $50,000 to help cholera victimsread more
- Letter: Turkey’s RulesFebruary 3, 2011, The New York Tim...read more
- Forced Migration and Mortality in the Ottoman Empireread more
- Youth Congress
- Issues & Information
- Turkish American Community
- U.S. Congress
- The Turkey Caucus
- News & Events