From FLEX to Blogging to AUA4 min read
Contributed by Lilit Hovsepyan (BSCS ‘26)
I’m a first-year B.S. in Computer Science student with multiple interests. My long list of hobbies ranges from photography and science to journalism and culture. I am a social media influencer, blogger, photographer, former radio host, and future computer scientist! A little bit surprising, right?
Before coming to the American University of Armenia (AUA), I was not sure about my future profession. I was battling with my two different personalities: the one that is in love with art and the other curious to discover every aspect of science. As an art enthusiast, I’m pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science to show that science is nothing but art and it is possible to combine art and science.
How I Became Enthusiastic About Computer Science
Two years ago, my boyfriend and I launched a small business in Armenia; we started producing Armenian daily planners, book and movie trackers, budget planners, eco pens, etc. As our notebooks became well-known among people in Armenia, particularly teenagers, we expanded our operations from presence in many popular bookstores in Yerevan and other regions to shipping our products outside Armenia. At that time, we were very inexperienced and doubtful teenagers with no programming skills. We needed a website for our business without which selling online was rather challenging. However, we couldn’t afford a programmer. This is when I started researching programming and computer science. I started watching video tutorials to gain programming skills and create our website. Before that, I used to think that computer science was a highly complex field that I couldn’t handle, but my first steps into programming helped me realize that it is an exciting and innovative world.
I’m very enthusiastic about being at AUA and pursuing a degree in the Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE) where our devoted and encouraging instructors do their utmost to help us succeed in our future careers.
My American High School Experience
In 2020, my biggest goal came true when I became a finalist in the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and my exchange year in the United States was postponed. I was not disappointed as I believed everything happens for a reason. Later, I was informed that I would spend my long-awaited exchange year in the state of Hawai’i.
I spent one academic year in Kailua-Kona. As a person highly interested in new places, new people, and different cultures, Hawai’i was the perfect place for me because it’s very diverse and culturally rich.
In the U.S. I gained many valuable skills that I’ll always need in life, such as volunteering, organizing events, being independent of my parents, and managing my budget. I’m glad to say that during that year, I completed 100+ volunteering hours and received recognition from the U.S. Department of State. My American host family made me realize the importance of volunteering and helping one’s community as they themselves had volunteered to host me without any monetary compensation from the program.
During my exchange year, I organized different presentations about Armenia for my American high school. It was a great pleasure to tell hundreds of people about my beautiful small country. I cooked traditional Armenian food and pastry for my host family and friends. They were amazed by Armenian traditional music and dance.
I believe that exchange programs play a significant role in promoting cultural respect and awareness throughout the world.
Becoming a Social Media Influencer
In response to people’s interest in my American high school experience and life in Hawai’i, last year I decided to start sharing my story on social media. So I went from making videos for my friends and family to becoming a social media influencer! In one month, I gained thousands of followers, which was quite shocking. I realized that I was slowly falling in love with sharing my everyday life with people who were enthusiastic about learning more about the American lifestyle and education.
I believe that social media is an excellent tool if you know how to use it. I always try to use my platforms to motivate people to go after their dreams and become a better version of themselves. I have tried to show the different sides of my exchange year, from my worst experiences to unforgettable moments. I appreciate honesty in my platforms. My goal is to debunk the widespread belief that social media is fake.
Photography has always been my biggest passion. In the U.S. I had the opportunity to take various art classes and improve my photography skills. Later in the year, I participated in the SkillsUSA statewide photography competition and won. The SkillsUSA Championships are career competitions showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Later, I had the opportunity to also participate in the 2022 Walgreens national Expressions Challenge and received the People’s Champ award in the visual arts category with a substantial monetary prize. It was one of my most significant achievements in the U.S. Highly competitive, the award brought together thousands of competitors from all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Before returning to Armenia, I entered another statewide competition receiving four gold and one silver medal in five different art categories.
All these achievements made me realize that photography is an inseparable part of my life. Photography is a world where I can be who I am and let my mind and imagination go wild. Photography is a way of expressing myself with no limitations.
I owe my accomplishments to my host family and outstanding teachers for their endless support. Their love and care gave me the confidence to challenge myself in a foreign country far from my family, friends, and loved ones.
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