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Student finds passion for health-care policy

When sociology student Tuba Agartan defends her doctoral dissertation this month, it’ll be a little like she’s giving birth for the second time in two years.

Last year, Agartan and her husband, Kaan, welcomed their first child, a baby girl named Saba. Agartan’s pregnancy was difficult; she spent the last two months of it on bed rest. “It was a terrible time,” she said. “I haven’t ever prayed that much.”

Agartan planned to write her dissertation before Saba’s birth, but ended up working on it while caring for a newborn. “I basically wrote every chapter with her asleep by my side,” she said.

The dissertation is a comparative look at health-care reform in Turkey, Agartan’s native country. “I look at the politics of health care,” she said. “This is a battle that’s been going on in every system. All health-care systems are going through cost problems, access problems.”

Agartan earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations and another bachelor’s in sociology at Bogazici University in Turkey before coming to the United States for graduate school.

She has accepted a tenure-track job teaching health-policy management at Providence College this fall. She’ll teach Introduction to the American Health-Care System and Comparative Health Policy.

Kaan Agartan, who is also a student in sociology at Binghamton, expects to wrap up his doctoral work within the next year. After that, Tuba Agartan said, she’s not sure what’s next for their little family. They love the academic environment in the United States, but also want their daughter to grow up with a sense of her larger family and culture.

Agartan said she’s fortunate to have found an area of study that’s both a hot topic and passionately interesting to her. “It touches on people’s lives,” she said of health-care policy. “What I say does not stay at the theoretical level. It’s not just an academic exercise.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08