Wedding Guests Fund Society of Physics Students Scholarship

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Your Dollars at Work

Wedding Guests Fund Society of Physics Students Scholarship

How I transformed my big day into an opportunity for female undergraduates facing hardships


Catherine Meyers, Media Service Writer, American Institute of Physics

Tunay Tunca and Catherine Meyers on their big day. Photo by Ken Luallen.When my now-husband Tunay and I started talking to wedding vendors, many asked what our dream wedding would look like. I had no clue what colors to feature or whether I preferred the vibe to be “fun and casual” or “simple and elegant.” The one thing both Tunay and I did know was that we wanted our big day to be about more than just us.

Our wish to honor others at our wedding (and the fact that we had more than enough kitchen utensils already!) led us to the idea of a charitable gift registry. We brainstormed causes we supported. Science was high on the list.

Tunay and I are not physicists. He studied math and became a business professor, while I studied engineering and became a science writer. But we both appreciate how fundamentally important physics is to the world. We realized how getting a degree in a mathematical and scientific field can open doors, even if you don’t end up working as a scientist.

We decided to establish a college scholarship for a STEM student. We asked wedding guests to contribute to the scholarship in lieu of gifts. I work at AIP and was familiar with the Society of Physics Students scholarships. SPS made it easy to set up the scholarship, specify the qualities we wished for in the recipient, and direct guests to a website where they could give.

We named the scholarship in honor of Tunay’s mother, Aysen. She grew up in Turkey and overcame great obstacles to obtain a higher education at a time when most women did not go to college. She worked hard throughout her life and excelled in her career, even after becoming a widowed mother at a young age. She left the world too early, at the age of 53, after a battle with breast cancer.

In recognition of Aysen’s strength, as well as her compassion, we chose to designate the scholarship for a female undergraduate student who is excelling in her studies despite hardships.

Once the donation page was up and running, we were amazed and honored by the generosity of our friends and family. Many people wrote to say how touched they were to read about Aysen’s life and how happy they were to give to a good cause. The initial donations have been enough to fund the scholarship for close to three years.

Establishing a scholarship as part of our wedding fulfilled us in many ways. It gave us a chance to honor a family member. It directly supported STEM education, an essential part of keeping our society strong. And it reminded us of the values we wanted to keep at the center of our wedding, even as event-organizing stress swirled around.

Tunay and I look forward to seeing the scholarship awarded in the spring. We can’t wait to learn about the aspirations and talents of the recipient. We hope the scholarship will help, in some small way, to support the next generation of scientists. We know it will always remind us of the generosity and support our friends and family showed as we embarked on our own new chapter of life.

To learn more about the scholarship, or to contribute, visit

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