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Maintaining Heritage Through AUA

3 min read

Gevorg David Keshishian grew up in Pleasanton, California. Having just graduated from Amador Valley High School, David, like many of his peers, spent the summer preparing to head off to college. He did not have his sights set on a UC or an East Coast school, however—this fall, David will be attending the American University of Armenia in Yerevan, Armenia.

Though not the typical choice for a Pleasanton local, David decided long ago AUA would be the university for him. His mother and father, Marine Gouchian & Petros Keshishian, both grew up in Armenia and were part of AUA’s first graduating class in 1993. They are now avid supporters of the University, spreading the word about the wonderful education they received and aiding in the establishment and growth of the Alumni Endowment Fund.  His parents both spoke so highly of AUA they convinced David, their second son, to attend the undergraduate program. “It was what gave her all these opportunities in life,” says David of his mother. “She wants me to experience all the same things she loved about AUA and Armenia.”

This will not be David’s first experience in Armenia, as his mother’s family resides there and he has been to visit them multiple times. It wasn’t until his trip with the Ari Toon, Coming Home, program, a program that reintroduces Armenians from the diaspora to Armenia, however, that David really fell in love with the country.

Though David did not grow up in Armenia, he has always been a part of a close-knit Armenian community. His mother has maintained her college friendships and forged new friendships with Armenians in the Bay Area; many having children around David’s age with whom he grew up. It will be different, though, to be in a school full of Armenians, as David notes he did not have a big Armenian community in his schools in the past. He will not be making the transition all alone—his mother and 9-year-old sister will be moving with him. According to David, his mother has wanted to move back to Armenia for a long time, so this is the perfect opportunity.

There were many factors that went into David’s decision to attend AUA. The biggest factor is that, having lived in the United States his whole life, he realizes this might be his only chance to live in Armenia, so attending AUA is a once in a lifetime opportunity he refuses to pass up. The stories his parents have told him about their time at AUA has also largely informed his decision, “They have such positive memories of AUA and truly value the education they received there,” says David, “and I would like to gain the same experience.”

David is looking forward to all the opportunities that await him at AUA. He has been accepted to the business program, but hopes he might have the opportunity to double major in computer science, or, at the very least, pick up some computer science courses on the side. He also hopes to intern at Synopsis.

Academics aside, David is most looking forward to making lifelong friends. “I see the friends my mom made while attending AUA and they are still her closest friends, even when they haven’t seen each other for years. I want that.” He is also looking forward to improving his Armenian, which, according to David, he speaks unskillfully with a heavy accent. It is important for him to improve his Armenian so he can teach his own kids one day. According to David, “If I don’t teach them they won’t know. It is important to maintain your heritage. You don’t want to lose your Armenian heritage.”

By: Marissa Clarke-Howard


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