AUA Hosts 2016 Alumni Reunion

4 min read

 YEREVAN, Armenia – On September 16, 2016 the American University of Armenia (AUA) held its annual Alumni Reunion, bringing together the classes of 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011. The evening was one of overwhelming emotions, music, dance, reunion, and community.

The events began in the Akian Gallery, where alumni gathered to lead a roundtable discussion with the University’s Executive team. The aim of these talks are to strengthen and maintain ties within the AUA Community. As such, the AUA Leadership took the opportunity to update the alumni on priorities for the strategic development of the University, current mechanisms for making study at AUA more affordable, management of the AUA Alumni Endowment Fund, and AUA Alumni Scholarship selection process. Topics addressed during the meeting included alumni engagement in AUA activities and other forms of alumni support.

 The official ceremony took place later in the evening, beginning with a warm welcome by the Mistress of Ceremonies Naira Stepanyan (MA TEFL ‘09). The event was also rich with cultural experiences including a performance by the renowned Barekamutyun Ensemble featuring music by Aram Khachatryan and another number, which was choreographed to show the cultural diversity of AUA’s student demographic.

Though it is hard to pinpoint, which speech or performance proved most heartwarming, one of the most captivating moments from this year’s Alumni Reunion were the two films shown throughout the evening. The first film was a virtual historical tour, which compared AUA’s facilities from 25 years ago to the present day. The renovated auditorium and library drew much applause. Later, attendees had the opportunity to watch another film narrated by alumni (classes of ‘96 and ‘01), who were students in the University’s humble beginnings. During the film, alumni movingly noted that, “AUA was a bright spot for us…the place where it was warm, with an open library, where we can gather, learn, and think.” The screening brought back many bittersweet memories of Armenia at the collapse of the Soviet Union and how, even in what seemed like total darkness, the University stood as a beckon of light and became “home” for all its students.

To demonstrate how far both the University and the nation have come, the AUA Choir performed a stirring rendition of the song “Azat Hayastan”. Following this, AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian delivered welcoming remarks, during which he noted that this year the University opened its doors to more than 1800 students, which represents an 18-fold growth from the 101 students of AUA’s first entering class.

Furthermore, the 2016 Alumni Reunion marked the launch of the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year, Hovhannes Avoyan (MPSIA ‘95) was presented with this honor by AUA Dean of College of Science & Engineering Aram Hajian. Hovhannes Avoyan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PicsArt Inc., Monitis Armenia, and Sourcio. His companies have created over 600 well-paying jobs in Armenia, and tens of new companies were created or managed by his former employees. Though Mr. Avoyan was not physically present, he delivered a video message, during which he spoke eloquently about how current students could engage in PicsArt. Afterwards, a lovely arrangement of flowers was presented to Mr. Avoyan’s mother, Mrs. Khostikyan, who humbly accepted the honor on her son’s behalf.

Marine Ghushchyan (MBA ‘93) then spoke about the Pillars of AUA and the strong tradition of giving back that the founding class has attempted to establish throughout the years. The Pillars of AUA are a group of 100 benefactors who pledge to support the mission of AUA with an unrestricted gift of $10,000 per year for five years. In the past, benefactors have usually been individual donors or families, however this year that generosity was complemented by AUA Class of ‘93’s joint commitment to become a Pillar. The class pledged to raise $50,000 over a period of three years, and this year the alumni of the class raised $15,000.

 There was no shortage of smiles and joy, as the event carried on with the Pampuri dance performed by one of AUA’s 18 student clubs that make up a vibrant part of campus life in the University. Over the past few years, Armenian national dances have reemerged as a form of unification whether on university campuses or open-air spaces, such as Cascade. Thanks to the enthusiasm of AUA students, both past and present, this evening proved to be no exception.

After an abundant amount of music and dancing, all four classes of 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 were invited to the stage to receive gifts. AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian, along with his wife Nelly Der Kiureghian, and Executive team members including Assistant Vice President Anahit Ordyan were then also invited to the stage and presented with gifts of appreciation.

 Finally, after much anticipation, this year’s donation check for the AUA Alumni Endowment Fund was presented in the amount of $20,000. The Fund was initiated by AUA’s first class of ‘93 in 2013 with a starting amount of $35,000. As of June 30, 2016 the market value of the Fund is $89,300, and two students have already received full scholarships thanks to alumni efforts. Both students expressed their gratitude and eagerness to give back to their University as the alumni has done. President Armen Der Kiureghian also noted that each year he and his wife add to alumni donations, bringing this year’s total to $22,000.

Continuing the tradition, Lana Karlova (MPSIA ’96) passed the Torch of Success on to Zaruhi Janibekyan (MPH ‘97). Following this, the Alumni Reunion Organizing Committee members were then welcomed to the stage and honored for their hard work. And after the event, the first class of 1993 made their way to the Pillar Wall to mount the plaque “Class of ‘93”.

After the Celebration Event, the alumni continued the evening with the cutting of the AUA’s 25th Anniversary Cake.

The mission of the AUA Office of Alumni Relations and Career Development is to develop, coordinate, and promote programs for our alumni to keep them connected and involved with the AUA and one another, and to create a culture of philanthropy by encouraging alumni to contribute their time, talent, and resources to the advancement of the University.

The career development function of the Office of Alumni Relations and Career Development is to contribute to career achievements of AUA graduates through enhancing their job finding skills. Additionally, to provide job placement services to students/alumni and develop strong and tangible links between employers and the university, to allow for the Office of Alumni Relations and Career Development to support and assist students and alumni in their professional development.

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.