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AUA CSE Alumna Liana Mehrabyan (CS ‘18) Acclaims her Experience at IST Lisbon and AUA

“Never stop learning and improving yourself. It is the only way to make this world a better place.”

How did you come to study at AUA and what influenced your choice of profession?

Mathematics and music have been the two fields dearest to me and I was sure that one of them is meant to be my profession. I was very curious about the prospects that math and computer science can offer and decided to see how far I can get. That is the reason why I applied to AUA CSE. AUA was my one and only choice as I was impressed by the interdisciplinary education I would receive, its academic environment and the overall student experience I would have.

As an AUA alumna, how would you evaluate AUA’s contribution to your current achievements?

AUA has had an immense role on all of my achievements as it has shaped my professional and personal values; not only did I receive fundamental education in the field, but I also got exposed to liberal education, which made me become a critical thinker and an independent learner. I acquired the skills that are vital for achieving my goals. AUA was the place where I found my true career passion and developed it with the undivided support and encouragement of my professors. Working as a teaching associate in our program was a great career boost and an amazing experience for which I am thankful.

Tell us about your current status and how you got there.

Currently, I am doing my Master’s Degree in Data Science at École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL). I was exposed to the notion of Data Science thanks to professor Habet Madoyan back in 2015. After getting to know the field, I became enthusiastic about it and decided to continue my career in that direction. I then became actively involved in the local Data Science community, took courses, worked on several projects and internships. Eventually, I was able to collect the necessary knowledge and experience to become a student of a prominent institution such as EPFL.

In general, how would you define success in career?

I think, any definition of success is biased; it depends on one’s ambitions and values. To me, it neither depends on the level of complexity of one’s job, nor does it depend on one’s position. As naïve as it sounds, if you love what you do and you feel excited and fulfilled about it, then you have succeeded. This is not rocket science.

Tell us about your stay as an Erasmus+ exchange student.

I was lucky to spend my last semester as an exchange student at Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon, Portugal. My experience as an Erasmus+ student was wonderful in so many ways. Firstly, I got a chance to spend five months in one of the most special cities in Europe ‒ Lisbon. It has an inexplicable atmosphere that you only feel when you’re there. I got to meet people from all over the world and made several friendships that, I’m sure, will last. I had many cultural, educational, philological, gastronomical and many other explorations, which now complement the brightest memories of my undergraduate life.

I also got the chance to experience the European educational system, which, in fact, made me realize that I personally prefer the American one. Studying at IST Lisboa certainly improved my knowledge of mathematics and its applications, it also helped to expand my professional network. However, I must note that my in-class experience at AUA was way better. At IST, I did not experience the authentic student-professor interaction we have at AUA, which in my opinion, has a crucial role in students’ academic standing. Studying at IST was hard but fruitful, although I really missed the vast support and encouragement I could get anytime I entered a professor’s office at AUA.

Although I missed my graduation ceremony and still feel like an AUA student, it’s time to admit that the journey is over. Looking back at those four years spent at AUA, I realize that coming to AUA was the right decision. I can truly say that I’m proud to be an AUA graduate and will do my best to take part in AUA’s further development in any way I can.

Setting aside the friendliness and easygoing nature of Portuguese people I will mention one major difference between AUA and IST. In IST, students were expected to learn more on their own. If students lacked the background knowledge required for a class, the professors would give the basic information, but the students were expected to fill their knowledge gaps on their own. In contrast, at AUA most of the professors would take time to ensure that all students were on the same page. Neither approach is better than the other, since different students prefer different learning methods.

Overall, the Erasmus+ mobility helped me to gain a better idea of what I want to do in my career. I hope AUA will continue to partner with similar programs for more students to have similar rewarding experiences.