ANCA Capital Gateway Program Begins Fourth Year of Opening Doors for Young Armenian Americans

WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America’s Capital Gateway Program–the innovative Armenian American job placement program now approaching its fourth year of operations in the nation’s capital–continues to provide recent college graduates with opportunities to launch successful careers in Washington. In addition to being granted access to the full use of ANCA facilities, those who are accepted into the program are provided free housing in downtown Washington, as well as training, networking, and job placement support as they seek full-time government, public policy, and media-related job opportunities in the nation’s capital. Officially inaugurated in May 2003–with the support of the Cafesjian Family Foundation–the Capital Gateway Program has benefited tremendously over the past three years from the generosity of donors committed to creating public service opportunities for young Armenian Americans.The leading financial contributor to the Program has been the family of Hovig Apo Saghdejian, a 23-year old youth leader and community activist from Fresno, California, who lost his life in 2004 in a tragic car accident. His family established the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial Fund in Hovig’s memory. These funds are held in perpetuity, with all their income being used to finance the participation of young Armenian Americans in the Capital Gateway Program. The current Hovig Apo Saghdejian Fellow is Hovig Shirikian, who is interning with California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) as a stepping-stone for a Washington career in public policy.After learning about the Capital Gateway Program before graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Shirikian decided to apply for the program and come to Washington, DC to pursue his interest in political advocacy. "I wanted to come to DC because that is where the action is," says Shirikian. "I wanted to learn first-hand how things are run and gain experience that will be respected no matter where I decide to go in the future." Past Hovig Apo Saghdejian Fellows have included:Ani Bedrosian, Andrew Gregorian, and Vasken Kassakhian. Other current participants include Taline Ghazarian, Rita Garabedian, and Antranik Boyadjian.The program recently helped Ghazarian, a graduate in Sociology from UCLA and former English-section editor for the Asbarez Armenian Daily Newspaper, land an internship with Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA).She hopes to use the position to learn more about the inner workings of Congress and gain a foothold in the policy-making arena. "It’s really interesting getting a first-hand look into how government works and figuring out your particular niche in it," said Ghazarian. The program has also provided opportunities for Rita Garabedian, a native of Kenner, Louisiana. After graduating from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History, Garabedian came to DC to find work as a Congressional staffer. She is currently serving as an intern for Representative Albert Wynn (D-MD 4) while continuing to explore full-time staff positions. She believes the recent shakeup in the House of Representatives could provide her a unique opportunity to fill a position with one of the many new members of Congress. "I feel very fortunate to be here on the Hill at such an exciting moment," Garabedian commented. "Both job-wise and politically, there are a lot of encouraging prospects." Antranik Boyadjian, a university student from France, has come to Washington, DC to volunteer at the ANCA office. Robert Khatchadurian, who recently graduated from the program, has secured a consulting position with Booz Allen Hamilton. These exceptional individuals add their names to a growing list of participants who have taken advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the Capital Gateway Program. Additional information about the program is available on the ANCA website–www.anca.org.

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