UNK programs draw Tuggen Even from Turkey to Nebraska, making him a “Loper forever”

Posted: November 14, 2022 11:30:00 AM CST

Tuggen Even sitting at a computer with a coffee in his hand.

The University of Nebraska was not number one on Tuggen Even’s list, in fact he had never even heard of the university until two weeks prior to his arrival in 2007.  
Even is from Antalya, Turkey and his father’s friend’s son, who was a recent UNK graduate, encouraged Even to apply. 
“They were in Turkey and asked us to dinner as a graduation celebration,” Even said. “That is when I heard about UNK. It was the same night we called UNK, they sent me my visas and I-20s, and I was here in two weeks.” 
Once on Nebraska soil, Even was picked up from the airport by Jerry Fox, the former director of International Education
“I thought, ‘Wow, who does that?’ He’s the director of the program,” Even said. “We never asked for it or anything. This shows the importance of students and how much they will be cared for here.” 
Even went through UNK’s English Language Institute to improve his English skills and then graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Multimedia in 2015. Thanks to the support and mentorship Even received from his professors, he decided to pursue a master’s degree at UNK. 
“Actually, it’s a funny story. My whole point coming here, was for my bachelor’s degree and once I was done, I wanted to go back home,” Even said. “I was very close with some of my professors, and they were always very helpful. By spending time with them, I started seeing myself in education based on the conversations I was having with them. One day I asked, ‘What if I took a master’s in Instructional Technology?’” 
He did just that. In 2019 Even graduated with his master’s degree in Instructional Technology, which has recently changed names to Learning, Design and Technology
Headshot of Tuggen Even at the UNMC building in Kearney, Nebraska.

Now in the work force, Even utilizes a lot of what he learned during his master’s program.  
“I started to notice that everything I learned in my masters was relevant,” Even said. “They were ‘aha’ moments. I didn’t realize it until I graduated and started working. In class usually you are like, ‘When am I going to use this?’ You are teaching me theory from 50 years ago, but now when I am designing something I go, ‘Oh, that is what he meant; it is right here.’” 
Even began the Optional Practical Training after graduating with his master’s degree, which provides international students practical experience in their field of study for two semesters. 
The OPT program moved Even to Bowling Green, Kentucky where he accepted a job at Western Kentucky University. He was only there for one month, when the University of Nebraska Medical Center reached out and offered him the job of his dreams. He moved back to Nebraska immediately.  

Even is currently working on his PhD in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education at UNL.  
“If UNK offered a PhD program, I would totally be doing it here,” Even said. 
Even continues to work for UNMC in Omaha, Nebraska as an Instructional Technology Specialist. He has been with UNMC for three years and travels to Kearney’s campus once a month, but always makes time to visit with his former professors who he claims made him the person he is today.  
“They are just great people,” Even said. “Learning never ends. I always have questions and I am glad that I have great professors that I can still follow up with years after my graduation. That is what I really like; they don’t let you go.” 
“If you are a Loper once, you are a Loper forever,” Even said. 

By: Heidi Knake

Category: Graduate Studies, General, UNK Online

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