RCBC Faculty and Alum Dr. Meral Muyesser Reflects on Her Journey from Newcomer to Proud Citizen
Tuesday, Mar 05, 2024

For community leader and professor Dr. Meral Muyesser, following her goals meant taking the biggest risk of her life. She achieved her dream occupation through bravery and perseverance and found a community at Rowan College at Burlington County.

In 1999, Muyesser left her home country of Turkey and arrived in the United States. Before she decided to move, she was a professional athlete and earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Physical Education. Muyesser worked as a middle school gym teacher in Turkey for six months. However, her occupation did not fulfill her, and she yearned for more. To obtain a master’s and doctoral degree, she needed to learn English. Despite the many challenges Muyesser expected, she moved to the US to follow her goal of becoming a professor. 

When arriving in the U.S., Muyesser explained that life was challenging for the first few months. Many difficulties plagued her, including language barriers, a lack of friends and money, and struggles to acclimate to a new culture.

“I was so happy that I had the opportunity to come here. But at the same time, I was nervous. Especially because I did not know English and I was unfamiliar with the culture,” she explained. 

Muyesser joined Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) in 2000. She learned of RCBC through her Turkish friends who had attended the college and reported enjoyable experiences.

Muyesser took courses at RCBC for two years. She took English as a Second Language (ESL) and several psychology-related courses. At first, she wanted a career in the psychology field. It wasn’t until her ESL professor, Dr. Carol Gavin, gave her a part-time job on campus tutoring ESL students that Muyesser realized her true passion. 

“I started working with ESL students and realized that I really liked it. We had the same background, and I was familiar with their needs, so I enjoyed helping them,” she stated.

She went on to achieve an associate degree in education at RCBC. Her ESL professor supported Muyesser and even wrote her a recommendation letter for The College of New Jersey to pursue a master’s degree in education. Muyesser went to The College of New Jersey from 2007 to 2009.

While reflecting on her relationship with Dr. Carol Gavin, Muyesser said, “When I was accepted to the graduate program at The College of New Jersey, she was very proud. She said, ‘Maybe one day you will do my job at the college.’ It was so interesting she said that because a couple of months later, she passed away. I spoke at a ceremony for her at the college, and that was the same day I got the offer to be an adjunct professor at RCBC.” 

While teaching full-time at RCBC and caring for her two sons, Muyesser worked hard to earn a doctorate of education from Northcentral University from 2016 to 2020. 

Muyesser has worked at RCBC for 16 years now. Muyesser has several roles at RCBC, including Associate ESL Professor, ESL Program Chair, Liberal Arts Adjunct Observation Specialist and Faculty Co-chair on the President’s Advisory Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“I feel happy to help my students inside and outside the classroom. I get to not only teach them but give them a sense of community. I’m so glad I chose to come to RCBC. I feel like it’s my home. I learned English here, studied here and then started teaching here. I feel comfortable and happy here. It feels like I found my home,” she said. 

Muyesser recently gave a speech at a naturalization ceremony held at RCBC on March 1. She reflected on the experience and said, “I was honored that they asked me to be the keynote speaker. Becoming a citizen is a remarkable milestone, and being there for that moment was amazing.”

When asked what she would tell individuals struggling to meet their goals, Muyesser said, “Every struggle we face makes us stronger and gives us opportunities to grow. It brings out the best version of ourselves.”