Nayiri Shorjian (M PSIA ‘16) and Varak Sisserian (M PSIA ‘17): A Couple Determined to Build Their Future in Armenia

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Varak Sisserian (M PSIA ‘17), Head of the RA Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, and his wife Nayiri Shorjian (M PSIA ‘16), researcher at the Armenia National Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Innovation Lab, are both from Beirut, Lebanon, where they have received their education and earned their undergraduate degrees Sisserian, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Shorjian, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Haigazian University.

“We met at a very young age, I was 16 and Varak was 19. We decided to move to Armenia together after my high school graduation but then dropped the idea. This happened a few times, until we realized there is no “right time” for moving. I was still a university student in Beirut when Varak moved to Armenia in 2012. I followed him in his footsteps in 2013 after I completed my BA degree. We got married in Yerevan in the summer of that year,” recalls Shorjian. “It is also in Yerevan that we had our first child, Raffi, in 2017, and now we’re expecting a daughter. Armenia is definitely home for us!” she adds.

Politics has always been Sisserian’s passion. Returning to his homeland, he decided to pursue a graduate education in International Relations at the Yerevan State University (YSU). Eventually, both Sisserian and Shorjian continued their educational journey at the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program. “One of the things AUA taught me is that personal values as well as culture play an important role in the quality of education you get. Attending a reputable university is just one side of the story. So, I started looking both at myself and at the people around me through a different lens,” Shorjian says.

Contemplating on his career path, Sisserian noted: “A successful career is the one that you’re passionate about and choose to pursue despite the challenges.” According to him, the RA Deputy Prime Minister’s Office has had many achievements since 2018. The most important one, as he notes, is the establishment of the Manoogian Simone Research Fund (MSRF) to which he personally contributed  as Head of the RA Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. The MSRF is a joint initiative of the Manoogian Simone Foundation (MSF), AUA, and the Armenian Government that aims to sponsor research on topics of interest to the Government in higher educational institutions of Armenia.

Shorjian is now engaged in developing innovation policies at the Armenia National SDG Innovation Lab as a researcher. She notes: “The biggest challenge I have overcome throughout my career was trying to combine my background in psychology and my knowledge in political science. Sometimes I got lost in the way, I didn’t know where I belong. Now I know that, social policy is what I am so passionate about.”

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.

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