Alumni meetings in the US
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AUA President and CCO Meet With AUA Alumni and Collaborators in the US

4 min read

In January 2022, President of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Dr. Karin Markides and AUA Chief Communications Officer (CCO) Narek Ghazaryan embarked on an official trip to the United States to meet with a number of AUA alumni and collaborators. The visit was long-awaited having been postponed because of the global pandemic.

San Francisco

The first stop was San Francisco, where the AUA President and CCO had a milestone meeting with UC Berkeley SkyDeck and Strategic Value Ventures (SVV) to further discuss potential areas of collaboration. AUA is proud that over 50 AUA alumni have been successfully competing to enter the Berkeley SkyDeck program. Many of these success stories stem from the Armenian startup community, and our AUA alumni play a significant role in boosting the field and ensuring their company’s growth will benefit Armenia. The meeting resulted in an agreement to identify a model for a potential SkyDeck hub hosted at AUA.

President Markides also visited several universities and industries in the area to further develop plans for faculty-to-faculty collaboration in combined strategic and operational agreements.

In San Francisco, Dr. Markides and Ghazaryan met with alumni from different cohorts. The President shared with them recent updates from the University and several key initiatives AUA has launched to increase the number of international students studying at AUA, to augment a stronger research culture, to realize trust-based collaborations, and to establish a new assistant professorship program. She also communicated the goals and strategies of the ‘Build a Better Future With AUA’ capital campaign, which will enable AUA to realize the planned construction of a new Science and Engineering Building. 

In the greater San Francisco area, there are over 20 AUA alumni with different areas of expertise who expressed commitment to creating their local AUA alumni club to continue associating with their peers, and to ensure that they stay connected with their alma mater, both as mentors and other support for students and engaged in activities with AUA in the San Francisco area. 

New York

The journey then continued to New York, NY, which has a much larger AUA alumni community. Many of the AUA graduates working in New York are well-established professionals in their respective fields who have built successful careers and who credit AUA for the knowledge and skills they have gained, ready to give back to their alma mater. Alumni from different years and programs were happy to meet with the AUA president and CCO, share recollections of their times at AUA. Aside from several one-on-one meetings, Dr. Markides and Ghazaryan also created the opportunity for further dialogue with a small group of alumni, learning more about their individual experiences at AUA and how their AUA education and career paths have led them to New York. 

“As a president, nothing gives me greater joy than interacting with our students and alumni and hearing about your journey. AUA is a very special place and to see that so many of you have graduated with strong values and have built incredible careers reinstates our mission and shows that we are on the right track,” Dr. Markides told the alumni. Concluding the meeting, one thought was predominant among all alumni present — AUA has played a huge role in shaping their future and for that, they are forever grateful. The interest to stay connected in different ways, with their class as well as with AUA was discussed in a most positive way.

In New York, there were many opportunities to visit with friends of AUA from universities, agencies and the private sector. It was clear that the direction that AUA is taking to facilitate capacity building in the country, leadership skills for our students, and creativity in solving complex challenges is noticed and attractive for enhanced cooperation.

Washington D.C.

The next and final destination of the trip was Washington DC. where Dr. Markides and Ghazaryan engaged in conversations expanding AUA’s dialogue on universities’ role. The main focus was a roundtable discussion hosted by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), where AUA alumni from different generations and backgrounds came together to explore thoughts around how to educate next generations leaders and facilitate prosperity and desirable resilience in Armenia. Dr. Markides lifted questions about the future of higher education in Armenia and the role of AUA in boosting support for the country’s development. Having pursued their education at AUA, the alumni had first-hand experience and their input was extremely valuable in the conversation.

President Markides and Ghazaryan also had the opportunity to discuss common interests with Dr. Alexander Sokolowski and Mark Simakovsky, deputy assistant administrators in the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia in the U.S. Agency for International Development, and to visit the Ambassador of Armenia in the U.S., before leaving the Washington D.C. area. 

“The opportunity to meet and engage with so many AUA alumni from different communities is truly rewarding,” Ghazaryan wrapped up the two weeks’ experience. President Markides concluded that “AUA alumni are our greatest assets and the most tangible outcome of what the University has achieved. An AUA alum will always remain an AUA alum for life, and having access to them and their network is extremely valuable to the University as we continue to develop what we can offer. This was a very rewarding trip with growing expectations to continue engaging the AUA alumni communities. Developing the Alumni Club-Chapter is a great way that the AUA Alumni Relations office will continue to connect alumni to AUA and to one another. The AUA alumni community has been an important pillar to the development of AUA, and we are very grateful for their continued support as we move forward with our University’s mission.”

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.