Armenian Weekly Launches Summer Journalism Fellowship
WASHINGTON—Bright, energetic, and committed to the Cause, the 2013 Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) “Leo Sarkisian” interns are taking on Washington with the pride and purpose exemplified by the late ANCA leader whose legacy of service inspired this unique youth training program.
“With a proven track record of academic excellence and local involvement, this year’s Leo Sarkisian Internship team has embarked on an eight-week Hai Tahd boot camp, in preparation for a lifetime of community leadership to advance the Armenian Cause,” said ANCA Legislative Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian. “Like the hundreds of alumni before them, the 2013 participants will serve as ANCA’s ambassadors, both in their academic and professional lives, representing the views of our community and the values of our Cause.”
Each of the interns was selected following an intensive application process in their respective regions that weighed their qualifications and their drive to make a difference on a national scale. Many came to Washington, D.C. with impressive track records in regional and local ANCA offices, serving as interns, staff, and volunteers. This year’s intern class is made up of university students from coast-to-coast and Canada, including Manoug Alemian, II, Knarik Gasparyan, Taleen Lachinian, Natalie Kalbakian, and Tamar Purut. All are active participants in Armenian-American community life, from the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) to the Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) and Armenian Student Association (ASA), as well as their local ANCA chapters.
The Leo Sarkisian Internship Program is an integral part of a growing effort to provide Armenian Americans with greater opportunities to explore careers on Capitol Hill, in the foreign policy field, and in key Washington think tanks. It is a part of the larger ANCA Capital Gateway Program, which is designed to help university students and graduates find internships and permanent positions in Congressional offices as well as in a host of other government agencies and political and policy-related groups.
The interns, who participate in a wide variety of projects based on their individual interests, are given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the American political system. They participate in a bi-weekly lecture series that features guest lecturers, including public officials and Armenian-American leaders.
Community members can follow the ANCA interns through photos and blogs postings on the ANCA Facebook page (facebook.com/ancagrassroots) and on the Asbarez and Armenian Weekly websites.
Weekly Journalism Fellowship
Running in parallel with the Leo Sarkisian Internship, the Armenian Weekly has teamed up with the ANCA to launch a journalism fellowship, placing special emphasis on the role of media in expanding Armenian-American grassroots participation in civic life and educating elected officials about community advocacy priorities.
“We want to thank the Armenian Weekly for partnering with the ANCA on this innovative program,” explained Karakashian. “The media plays a key role in helping our community understand the challenges facing our nation and how we each can be involved in shaping our future through civic involvement.”
Boston University (BU) international relations and political science student Lilly Torosyan is the first to participate in the journalism program. A senior at BU, Torosyan has served on the executive board of the university’s ASA and as chair of her church’s ACYOA Juniors for six years. She has been a staff writer for the Weekly for the past year. “I’ve always loved writing and am grateful to continue working on great projects that help educate a broader audience about Armenian issues,” the West Hartford, Conn. native explained. “The opportunity of working in DC is simply a bonus.”
Spotlight on 2013 interns
The 2013 ANCA Leo Sarkisian interns, while they come from diverse geographic backgrounds, are all joined together by a common purpose. Nineteen-year-old Manoug Alemian hails from Montreal, Quebec, and will begin his studies in civil law at the University of Ottawa this September. A graduate of Sourp Hagop Armenian School, Manoug is a member of the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada, “Levon Shant” and “Pegor Ashod” Chapters, and has served with the ANC-Quebec team for the past two years. “It was my dream to come and work for the ANCA office in D.C.,” explained Alemian. “When the opportunity came, I couldn’t resist coming to acquire new skills and tools that will help me advance my professional and Hai Tahd careers.”
Knarik Gasparyan hails from Yerevan, Armenia, and moved to the U.S. in 2009. Having just finished her bachelor of arts degree in political science/international relations with a minor in Near Eastern languages and cultures at UCLA, with departmental and college honors, Knarik is headed to the University College of London this September to pursue a master’s degree in security studies. During her years at UCLA, she served on the executive board of the ASA, interned and volunteered for the ANCA Western Region office, and was one of the founders of National Organization of Republican Armenians (NORA) Young Republicans.
“From territorial conflicts and ceasefire to the scars of the genocide, from the economic blockade to Armenia’s relations with the diaspora, from our divisions to our unity, ours is an incredible historical and political case to study, with numerous problems and laws to understand, battles of truth and justice to fight,” explained Gasparyan. “By completing the ANCA Leo Sarkisian internship, I will get the training to fight these battles, to work for the Armenian Cause, and crystallize my thoughts and ideas in order to benefit my homeland and my community.”
Taleen Lachinian of Watertown, Mass., is a sophomore at Boston University studying finance. She has been very actively involved in the leadership of the AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Senior and Junior Chapters, as well as the ASA at Boston University. Among her many passions is her enduring commitment to AYF Camp Haiastan, which she has attended as both a camper and counselor for 11 summers. She attends St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown and taught Sunday School there for many years.
“I am delighted to be a part of this year’s ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship program because I am looking to broaden my understanding of the intersection of American politics and the Armenian Cause,” explained Lachinian. “The program has been great so far and I am looking forward to the weeks to come!”
Natalie Kalbakian hails from Hollywood, Calif., and is currently a sophomore at UCLA studying political science and looking to pursue a career in entertainment law. A graduate of Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Natalie has been an active member in the Homenetmen Los Angeles Scouts and the AYF Glendale “Roupen” Chapter, as well as a volunteer with the ANCA Western Region. She was recently elected as vice president of her university’s Armenian Students’ Association.
“I am honored to have been selected to represent the West Coast Armenians’ perspective in Washington, D.C.,” noted Kalbakian. “I hope that the Leo Sarkisian Internship helps me steer my passion for activism in a constructive direction. The world of lobbying is a new concept to many young Armenians who are used to following our issues in the news, instead of being directly involved in the process. I would like to encourage more youth engagement, using the tools I acquire from this valuable experience.”
Tamar Purut hails from Wyckoff, N.J., and is currently a senior studying political science at Seton Hall University. She has been a member of St. Leon’s ACYOA in Fair Lawn for over five years and danced as part of the Akh’Tamar Dance Ensemble of the Hye Doon for over a decade. “As a political science major, I am delighted to be a part of this year’s Leo Sarkisian Internship Program and wish to ultimately gain a better understanding on how to communicate Armenian issues to a larger audience in an efficient manner,” explained Purut.