When Pelin Eldelek pledged her oath of citizenship, she shared a joy that made others at Clark/Sullivan feel great patriotism. Her constant courage and humor seem even more amazing when viewed in the context of what she has risked and accomplished. Representing 30 people from 15 countries, Pelin volunteered to speak at the oath ceremony. She stood in Judge William Cobb’s packed court room with a confident smile. “It has been a very long journey for me (12 years) to get my citizenship,” she said.
“I would like to specially thank BJ Sullivan for supporting me on this journey. Without our company’s sponsorship, this dream would not have come true.”
Pelin came to Reno with her husband and her young son to enroll at UNR. She augmented her degree in architecture from Turkey by completing an MBA and a two-year Professional Degree in Construction Management.
Her next challenge was job hunting. She had to exhibit superior qualifications over all candidates for Clark/Sullivan to legally hire her. Once employed, she had to excel at learning estimating while assimilating into a construction culture. Our HR records include a 4-inch binder of Pelin’s governmental paperwork, thanks to her attention to detail.
Pelin has known several students who came from abroad to study but were unable to find jobs within a year and had to return to their countries. It was a huge relief that she and her husband both found good jobs after getting advanced degrees. Ersan has worked at Granite Construction since 2004.
Employment for Pelin and Ersan was a bittersweet milestone, marking a greater separation from family and friends in Turkey. It also meant selling all their possessions in storage in Istanbul and starting over building a household here.
The economic downturn was another worry for Pelin, as Clark/Sullivan had to pare its Sparks office staff substantially. She welcomed her second son just before the construction demand began tanking. But Pelin willingly traveled to work in our busier Roseville, CA office to ensure she would stay employed.
Pelin is fearless in the face of challenge. She recently led the award-winning Reno Tahoe Airport Federal Inspection Services Building Remodel Project. Her team completed a 14,500-square-foot renovation in only 7 weeks to ensure opening the customs building in time for the first Volaris flight. Her team worked double shifts and weekends with only one day off – Thanksgiving.
Pelin says working in your second language can be daunting, but she wears her accent like her stylish wardrobe. She happily agrees to present to clients and takes our coaching in stride.
“I never felt different from you except my heavy accent,” Pelin wrote to fellow employees when announcing her citizenship. “I even listen to country music once in a while.” She thanked fellow employees for “teaching me all the slangs and idioms that doesn’t make any sense. I am sure I will continue to learn more.”
Today if you ask Pelin where she is from, she might say “Turkey,” or she might say “Truckee” with a grin just to mess with you. But ask her about citizenship, and you will get the biggest smile of all.
“I love this country.”