WASHINGTON, DC—The Armenian National Committee of America Leo Sarkisian (LSI) and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program (CGP) summer class returned to their communities, excited to work with local and regional advocates to expand political and media outreach and empower new activists after completing the ANCA’s 8-week Armenian American advocacy “boot camp.”
“This summer, our interns saw, firsthand, the impact of effective advocacy efforts in advancing core community priorities from strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship to ensuring Artsakh security and freedom to demanding justice for the Armenian Genocide,” remarked ANCA Programs Director Tereza Yerimyan, who ran the summer initiatives. “Each are exceptional ambassadors of the Armenian Cause who will serve as a credit to the communities and organizations they serve. Their professional growth and involvement in Armenian American organizations expands our reach and understanding of how we can advance our Cause through different avenues.”
The ANCA interns shared their favorite moments in a video, available on ANCA social media channels, and on YouTube.
Hailing from Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and different parts of California, this 12-person intern class experienced the different facets of Washington DC, from welcoming the President of Armenia on his first diplomatic visit to the US, to celebrating 100 years of U.S.-Armenian relations, to sharing our rich history and culture at the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival, to advocating community priorities on Capitol Hill, and participating in professional development workshops – all while experiencing the warmth and welcome of the local Armenian American community.
During their rigorous eight-week advocacy “boot camp,” interns learned to effectively communicate Armenian American priorities to Members of Congress and share updates with community advocates, encouraging them to take action. The Smithsonian FolkLife Festival’s Armenia: Creating Home Program was a two-week spectacular which brought Armenian foods, traditional hand-crafts, sculpture, music and dance center-stage in the nation’s capital. The festival also shared the history of the Armenian Genocide through films and documentaries like The Promise, and Intent to Destroy, supported through the ANCA Endowment Fund’s #KeepThePromise initiative.
Interns also had the opportunity to venture to Philadelphia to participate in the Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural and Educational Association’s ArtLinks Program, learning how to better share their Armenian heritage and history through photography, poetry, and dance and then returned to Washington DC to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Homenetmen Armenian Scouting and Athletic Association at the Eastern Region Navasartian Games. The Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Senior Society, led by Mrs. Hakinkth Terpandjian, Mrs. Karine Sahagian, and Yeretsgin Maggie Aktavoukian taught interns time-honored Armenian recipes and celebrated community traditions at an ANCA Aramian House dinner.
“This summer has been one for the books, thanks to the ANCA,” explained LSI intern Chris Khachadour. “From meeting dozens of Members of Congress to reaching out to Armenians across the country, I enjoyed it all. I had the rare opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia at the Senate and the Armenian Embassy to celebrating Armenian culture at the national mall as part of the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. I will forever reflect on the people I met and the events I attended over the past 8 weeks.”
Victoria Messikian, who along with Chris Khachadour focused on expanding the ANCA’s Rapid Responder Program, concurred, “The ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship met all of my high expectations and more. I had such a great time this summer speaking with Armenians from across the United States, working in a professional setting and applying my major every day, as well as advancing the Armenian Cause in our nation’s capital. I couldn’t have asked for a better and more productive way to spend my summer.”
Boston’s Antranig Kechejian and Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Adrienne Tazian-Schwartz brought their computer science backgrounds to the internship, working closely with IT Director Nerses Semerjian to strengthen the ANCA’s advocate outreach infrastructure. “This summer, the ANCA gave me the incredible opportunity to not only gain technical and professional experience, but make meaningful contributions to the Armenian Cause and lifelong friends,” explained Kechejian. “I would strongly recommend the Leo Sarkisian Internship program to any young, ambitious Armenian who has the drive to better themselves, and their community”.
Tazian-Schwartz explained, “The ANCA takes special care to mentor and enrich the lives of all of their interns. Because of my time working in Washington, I have a more secure future and feel confident in my professional abilities. Through the experience I gained coding the ANCA’s Salesforce-based advocacy database and training in the APEX software language, I am excited to pursue a career in computer programming after graduating next May.”
Southern California’s Lucine Mikhanjian and Lilit Bazikyan took special care to expand the ANCA’s social media outreach, preparing videos showcasing the summer internship program and calling special attention to a number of key ANCA advocacy priorities including a new U.S.-Armenia Double Tax Treaty and Armenia reforestation initiatives.
“This summer has far exceeded all my expectations,” explained Mikhanjian. “The amount of exposure to the professional Washington environment that we packed into eight weeks is remarkable, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. I’m so much more educated and involved in Armenian advocacy, and I can’t wait to use my experience in the next step of my career,” concluded Mikhanjian, who graduated Univesity of California Riverside in June.
“This internship has been an amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge of Hai Tahd [the Armenian Cause],” stated Bazikyan. “I’ve learned how our grassroots power has influenced national policy and am proud to be part of the change that is yet to come.”
Local Marylander and Georgetown University student Haik Voskerchian, who worked on U.S.-Armenia Double Tax treaty related advocacy efforts, remarked, “the ANCA internship has been a truly transformative experience. I have grown as an individual, an Armenian, and a professional here, and I wouldn’t have chosen to spend my summer in any other way.” Voskerchian noted that programs including the Hamazkayin’s ArtLinks and the Library of Congress Vartanants Day Lectures have shown him the broad appeal that Armenian issues have in U.S. society. “If anything, this experience has taught me that the preservation of Armenian culture and justice for Armenians isn’t just important to our community, but to the heritage of the world and to the new international order.”
Meet the 2018 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns:
Lilit Bazikyan is a rising junior at the University of California, Berkeley. She was previously involved with the ANCA-Glendale Chapter as an intern and was awarded ANCA-Glendale Youth Activist Award for her exceptional dedication to her community. She will obtain her Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics in 2020. Lilit plans to continue her education by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Economics; using her education and experience, she is hoping to have a positive impact by shaping economic policy.
Antranig Kechejian is a rising junior at Boston University pursuing a degree in Economics. Antranig is a member of BU’s Kilach and Honors College, as well as the world’s oldest and largest professional business fraternity. He has experience working on and leading strategy projects for startup and nonprofit organizations, and further strives to use his analytical and interpersonal abilities to help people. He attended AYF Camp Haiastan as a camper, and gave back to this amazing community by working there as a staff member for two years. Antranig is also a part of Boston University’s Armenian Student Association, and a proud member of the Greater Boston “Njdeh” AYF chapter.
“I feel extremely excited and grateful to be a Leo Sarkisian Intern this summer. To me, this is a unique opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, while contributing to a cause that has shaped my life since I was child.”
Christopher Khachadour is a senior at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) majoring in History and Political Science. He is the president of Alpha Epsilon Omega, the Armenian Fraternity at UCI, and has been a member of the Armenian Students’ Association at UCI for the past four years, having previously served as Cultural Director and Vice President. This spring he was granted the OC Trex UCI Armenian Studies Scholarship and awarded a certificate in Conflict Analysis & Resolution by the UCI International Studies Program. Christopher is also a longtime member of the AYF Pasadena “Nigol Touman” Chapter for years.
Victoria Messikian is a rising junior at Fordham University. She is majoring in International Studies and minoring in Spanish. Victoria has been involved in many different aspects of the Armenian community throughout her life. In 2015, Victoria organized an Armenian Genocide awareness assembly at her high school for the centennial anniversary. Victoria founded and presided over the Armenian Club at The College of New Jersey in 2016.
“I am thrilled to be in Washington, DC for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I know the Leo Sarkisian Internship will provide me with a great understanding of the role that Armenians play in the United States, and what we can do as individuals to help advance our cause. Armenian issues have always been important to me, and working with such inspirational and experienced mentors will be an experience I will never forget.”
Lucine Mikhanjian was raised in Orange County, and is a recent graduate from the University of California, Riverside with a B.A. in Public Policy. After serving as a Student Ambassador for the UCR School of Public Policy, and interning for the Mayor of Riverside, she aspires to a career in public service to help advance Armenia’s standing in the world.
“I am both ecstatic and humbled to be a Leo Sarkisian intern here in DC. It is undeniable that my work and experiences over the next eight weeks will be engaging, educational, challenging, and incredibly important for the Armenian population worldwide. I hope to emulate the passion fostered under the ANCA roof, and to take my progress and apply it to my future endeavors.”
Adrienne Tazian-Schwartz is entering her senior year at Indiana University-Bloomington. She currently is pursuing a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Informatics with a special interest in monetary policy and data analytics. Her family has historically been involved with the ANCA and she is looking forward to working with and learning from an organization that advances the Armenian Cause. She hopes to pursue a career in Washington, D.C. post-graduation.
After the program she is looking forward to visiting Armenia with her family, “I have always dreamed of traveling to Armenia, now during my future visit, I will have an even deeper appreciation and understanding of the culture and country thanks to my time at the ANCA.”
Meet the 2018 ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Summer Interns
Jirair Ashotyan is a Pre-Law Political Science and Philosophy double-major at Pepperdine University with a Straus Institute Certificate for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. He serves as Pepperdine’s Student Government Senior Senator, the founding President of Pepperdine’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter, and is a member of their Armenian Students Association, Pi Alpha Delta Pre-law fraternity, and Microfinance Club.
“As a student interested in politics, the ANCA has given me a unique multi-perspective look into American politics and allowed me to engage with a variety of Capitol events, and more interesting experiences are always around the corner. It was an honor to meet the President of Armenia for the celebration of 100 years of U.S.-Armenia relations.”
Haik Voskerchian is a rising senior at Georgetown University, double majoring in Mathematics and Philosophy and minoring in Economics. Haik has served as a member of the Board of the Triple Helix – a Science Policy publication at Georgetown, and he helped co-found and served as Georgetown University’s first Armenian Students Association President. Haik has been very active in promoting the Armenian cause in the D.C. area and is especially motivated in promoting U.S.-Armenia relations and sharing Armenia’s rich cultural heritage on his university campus.
Meet the 2018 ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Summer High School Interns
Sevana Dombalagian is a rising junior at Glenbrook South High School. Dombalagian has been a member of the AYF Chicago “Ararat” Junior Chapter as well as the Hamazkayin Dance Ensemble for many years and volunteers at Taniel Varoujan Armenian School in Glenview, Illinois. Dombalagian has also been a camper at Camp Haiastan for the past 6 years and plans on becoming a counselor. In the future, Dombalagian plans to double major in Philosophy and Physics as well as minor in Theology. She is excited about interning at the ANCA and giving back to the Armenian community that has done so much for her already.
Hasmig Krikorian is a rising senior at Centreville High in Clifton, Virginia. Hasmig has been a member of the AYF Washington, DC “Sevan” Junior Chapter for the past seven years and has served as Treasurer and President. She plans to double major in International Relations and Philosophy and aspires to eventually obtain a Ph.D. She hopes to connect morality and ethics to human rights to help put an end to human right abuses and bring support to recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“I am thrilled to help out at the ANCA this summer and I am very happy to contribute to the Armenian cause and learn more about Armenian activism. I’m very excited for the new experiences and lessons that will help me grow as an Armenian American.”
Megan Vandre is a rising junior at Langley High School in Virginia, where she is a member of the Langley Madrigals choir and the color guard. She is a graduate of the Hamasdegh Armenian School in Bethesda, MD. She is looking forward to working with the ANCA to further her knowledge on Armenian political affairs and to be more involved with her Armenian community.
“I am hoping to gain valuable experience to help shape my future. I am so grateful that we have a large network of Armenians in D.C. and it excites me to be a part of it.”
ANCA Summer Internship Programs: 32 Years Strong and Counting
Established in 1986 and named in memory of the late ANCA Eastern U.S. community leader who spearheaded Armenian American grassroots advocacy for more than four decades, the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship program now has hundreds of alumni across the world, spreading the message of truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide, freedom for Artsakh, and a secure, prosperous, and democratic Armenian homeland.
Launched in 2003, the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program helps secure permanent employment and professional internships in Washington, DC for young Armenian American professionals and students. Through the years, the ANCA has developed many relationships in and around Capitol Hill and identified a wide range of opportunities in the Washington, DC area. The CGP utilizes these resources and contacts to help candidates identify and secure jobs that fit their interests and needs.
The interns stay at the ANCA’s Aramian House, a landmark building in downtown Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood which serves as the permanent home of the Leo Sarkisian Internship and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Programs. The 2015 purchase of The Aramian House was made possible through a generous donation by the family of the late community leader and philanthropist Martha Aramian of Providence, Rhode Island. The Aramian family – led by sisters Sue and the late Margo and Martha – have long been among the most generous benefactors of ANCA programs as well as of charitable projects in the Armenian homeland and the Diaspora.
To learn more about the ANCA’s Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship Program, visit: anca.org/internship.