Image of Meral Acikgoz

Learn more about Meral Acikgoz, the new Graduate Assistant for the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy.

Meral Acikgoz is a Ph.D. student in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota. She previously worked at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN’s Migration Agency in Turkey over ten years in various capacities, advising on and implementing migration policies and laws. In the last two years, she worked as an independent researcher and consultant with various international organizations in Turkey on migration and refugee issues including training development and delivery. During the 2019-2020 academic year, she studied at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs as a Humphrey International (Fulbright) fellow. In her doctoral studies, she is keen on exploring the relationship between evaluation policy approaches and social justice outcomes in international development evaluation.

  1. What is your job title, and what will you be doing? I will be working as a graduate research assistant with the Evaluation and Credentialing team and mainly take part in the team's ongoing work of developing a credentialing system for child welfare workers.
  2. Tell us about your education and/or work experience prior to joining the MNCWTA. I have long years worked in program development and management to support the government in Turkey to improve governance capacities and policies on migrant and refugee issues. My last role was leading the Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Program of IOM Turkey. In time, I developed a passion for program evaluation and want to use my knowledge and skills to assess and improve programs aiming to address the needs of vulnerable populations. I am thus happy to be learning and growing with my Ph.D. in Evaluation Studies that I started in the fall of 2022. I am also very excited about my new role at MNCWTA which works toward building a better child welfare system in MN.
  3. What are you most passionate about professionally? I am passionate about thinking outside of the box and making an impact or change on the issues that I work for.
  4. What are you surprisingly good at (or what do you wish you were good at)? I am carried away whenever I see a great piece of performance art and as many of us would do, I always imagine how it could have felt to be a professional performer in music, dance, and acting.
  5. What do you like to do outside of work? I enjoy trying different hobbies. Lately, I started to learn Lindy hop dance which is very uplifting and fun! I love going out to the beautiful parks of the Twin Cities for long walks with my dog while listening to my favorite podcasts. Lastly, I am fond of spending time on the coast of the Agean Sea whenever I have an opportunity and enjoy water sports like sailing and windsurfing.