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Taline Magdalena Akkaya (M PSIA ‘20) Receives 2019-2020 Vartkess M. Balian Merit Award

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The 2019-2020 Vartkess M. Balian Merit Award was granted to Taline Magdalena Akkaya from the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program. At the twenty-seventh graduate commencement ceremony, held on June 8, 2019, Akkaya was announced the winner of this prestigious award for achieving an outstanding scholastic record and for holding great promise for a bright professional career.

Established in 1995, the Vartkess M. Balian Merit Award is granted to a first-year graduate student at the end of each academic year. The award is set to recognize a student with the best overall academic performance and community service from among all first-year master’s students of AUA. The winner gets full tuition coverage for the next academic year.

Akkaya is the third PSIA student who receives this award since it was established. In the words of the awardee, “Receiving such an award that does not only reward academic performance but actually recognizes overall standing, including social commitment, is a great acknowledgment of the hard work I was doing these last years. As a student, you are often facing insecurities so it is also an intense reassurance. Plus, the financial support is a great relief for my family and me because as an international student I had to pay a much higher tuition fee than other students and a lot more than I would have had to in Germany.”

Continuing her words of gratitude, Akkaya adds: “I really would like to thank all the professors of Political Science and International Affairs for doing such a great job. What I appreciate the most about them is that they are supporting our critical thinking, they are always telling us to take everything we hear with a grain of salt and I think that this is something that is really important. Of course, I would also like to thank my parents. Ever since I decided to study at AUA they supported me in my decision. The same goes to my sisters Ani and Anahid, who have supported me a lot throughout the semester.”

In addition to her outstanding academic performance, Akkaya has been actively involved in social work. After graduating from high school in Wiesbaden and before doing her bachelor’s studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, she did an internship at the translation department of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. She also interned at the second largest German news channel called ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen – Second German Channel), where she worked as a news journalist in the digital media department. She also completed another internship in administrative work at a small NGO called Streetkids International, which is located in Frankfurt and helps orphans in Tanzania.

Akkaya was the co-founder and first president of the ARI Youth Organization of Armenians in Germany where she organized team activities and projects for young Armenians living in Germany. She was a member of a group of youngsters who visited refugee shelters in Frankfurt and organized activities for the children who lived there. These and many of her other activities have been rewarded with the 2019 Vartkess M. Balian Merit Award.

The Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program provides world-class teaching and research, producing graduates who can best contribute to the development of the nation.