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Spring Welcome Back: AUA Students Return from Military Service

YEREVAN, Armenia – On February 7, 2020, the American University of Armenia (AUA) welcomed back its students returning from military service. Currently, more than 100 AUA students serve with great honor in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia (RA). Due to the increased number of returning servicemen, AUA will organize the welcoming event twice a year. The gathering aims to honor those students who have served in the RA Armed Forces and to facilitate the transition of AUA students from military to academic life by providing them with a platform to socialize with their peers and instructors.

AUA Provost Dr. Randall Rhodes welcomed the students, their parents, and family members. In his opening remarks, he mentioned the services and support systems offered by AUA to make the returnees’ academic journey smoother. “AUA is here to serve you and to give back to you. We applaud all your efforts.”

With uplifting remarks, AUA Lecturer Artur Avanesov took the floor next. He highlighted how proud the AUA community is of its students who serve in the military. He reminded the students of the faculty’s readiness to support them at all times and in all forms. “You now have more life experience than some of your faculty members, and we are all here to support your transition to student life.”

Cheering the students were also their senior peers, Arzuman Abovyan (BS CS ‘22) and Arman Vardanyan (BA EC ‘20). Recalling their own experience of returning to civilian life, they encouraged the recently released conscripts to do their best to succeed in their educational endeavors. 

“You will want to go immediately to work, to make money. You feel that two years was a long time and it would be difficult to resume studying, but you should give it a try. You will see that you will find the exact same atmosphere of warmth and support at AUA as when you left,” Aboyan addressed the students. 

The welcome back ceremony is just one step that the University has taken to ensure that veteran students have a smooth transition to student life at AUA. With professional counseling personnel on staff, veterans are provided the services they need during this transition. In April of 2019, AUA launched the Honoring Those Who Served: Investing in Our Veteran’s Education campaign to raise $1.5 million dollars to provide scholarships for veteran students studying at AUA. In less than a year the University has raised over $500,000 towards the goal. Once we reach the $1.5 goal, the scholarship endowment fund will support up to 40-50 veterans at AUA annually, in perpetuity. 

Among the parents and family members who attended the welcoming event was Arsen Petrosyan’s (BS CS ‘22) mother. In her emotional speech, she thanked the University for staying in touch with their family and supporting her son: “On behalf of the parents, I want to express my gratitude to all those people who have helped our children even during the two years they spent in the army. Believe me, the most precious New Year gift for me, and I am sure for all the parents, was the Holiday card sent from AUA. We appreciate your support.” 

AUA student Maria Yeritsyan (BA EC ‘22) emceed the event. The attendees also enjoyed musical renditions by AUA students Anna Ispiryan (BA EC ‘20) and Aram Khanlari (BS CS ‘21). A small reception followed, during which faculty members, parents, and students celebrated the return of our soldiers with classroom anecdotes, army stories, and jokes.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. 

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