Welcoming Students Back from the Military

YEREVAN, Armenia – On October 26, the American University of Armenia (AUA) held a reception in Akian Art Gallery to celebrate the return of students who served in the Armed Forces of Armenia. The tradition of welcoming back and recognizing these students began last year, with this year seeing a return of 24 military veterans.

Parents of the students were also invited to attend the reception, where they had the opportunity to be personally introduced to their sons’ professors, program chairs, deans, and University staff.

Communications Director William Bairamian addressed the attendees, stating, “First, I would like to welcome the happiest people in this room, the parents of our soldiers. We are grateful to our soldiers, but we are also grateful to you, as during these two years you courageously stood next to your sons and encouraged them to complete the most important duty of any Armenian: serving his country.”

“We appreciate very much your service and now we would like to give back to you and provide you with anything you would need from us in order to facilitate your return to AUA,” added AUA Provost, Dr. Randall Rhodes.

The AUA Registrar’s Office also prepared a nice surprise for the veterans, playing a slideshow, narrated by Registrar Chaghig Arzrouni-Chahinian, of photographs from the students’ days in the army provided by their family members, along with brief introductions about each student.

“One thing that I’ve learned since joining AUA in January is how passionate the staff and the faculty are about the returning soldiers, their transition to AUA and their success after they earn their degrees,” noted Vice President of Development, Paul Yeghiayan.

“I have a great respect for military people. What you have done and are about to do gives great hope for all of us who are here in this country or in any country. You have made the greatest sacrifice you can make. You learn a few things in the military that you don’t learn here. First, you learn to trust the people next to you, second, you become all that you can be,” said Dr. Donald Fuller, the Interim Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and a veteran of the United States Navy.

During the reception, students from AUA’s music club “Silhouette” presented the veterans with a beautiful performance of “Come my Nightingale,” a famous Armenian lullaby that represents the military spirit of the Armenian nation. The tone of the evening was both joyous and reflective; many of the students had seen action during the 2015 April War with Azerbaijan, and it became a frequent topic of conversation.

The veterans and their parents expressed their thanks for the welcoming evening.. “I am very grateful to AUA for organizing such an event and appreciating the work our sons have done. They have returned from the army with honor and are going to continue their education to become respected citizens,” said Diana Hovsepyan, mother of veteran Arame Simonyan.

Another veteran, Gegham Dokholyan, who is currently in his third year studying Business Administration, also expressed his gratitude, stating, “The evening was very unique. AUA has done a great job of inspiring the students that have come back from the military. The reception was very important for our parents as well. They had a chance to witness how supportive our professors are, as well as the whole staff.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.