United Kingdom Participants Add New Trans-Atlantic Component As Program Marks 35th Year
WASHINGTON—Boasting a dedicated crew of student advocates from California to Rhode Island, and expanding, for the first time to the United Kingdom, the Armenian National Committee of America Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship (LSI) and Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Fellowship (Maral Fellowship) went virtual this summer, exploring new opportunities to advance Artsakh freedom, strengthen U.S.-Armenia ties, and secure justice for the Armenian Genocide.
“The ANCA, building on years of on-line engagement, has taken our summer internship fully virtual this year, keeping our students safe while also developing best-practices for the future of Armenian American activism,” said ANCA Program Director Sipan Ohannesian. “While we look forward to returning to hosting our internships and career services programs here in Washington, we are excited by the power of new technology to take our signature youth-targeted initiatives to a worldwide audience like never before.”
The initial focus for Leo Sarkisian Internship and Maral Melkonian Fellowship participants has been to encourage broad-based civic outreach to Senators and Representatives in support of continued U.S. funding for life-saving de-mining and rehabilitation services to the people of Artsakh. The Artsakh de-mining program, carried out by The HALO Trust, has cleared over 60,000 mines and pieces of unexploded ordnance. The ANCA interns have been contacting Armenian Americans whose U.S. Representatives are on the Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to make its recommendations for FY2021 foreign assistance as early as July 9. The ANCA has initiated a call alert – anca.org/call – asking U.S. advocates to phone their elected officials in support of Artsakh de-mining.
The Leo Sarkisian Internship – named after the late ANCA Eastern U.S. community leader and Hai Tahd advocate – empowers dedicated Armenians in their efforts to achieve justice for the Armenian Genocide, freedom for Artsakh, and a secure and prosperous Armenian homeland. The LSI was established in 1986 and now has hundreds of alumni across the world. For the second year, LSI is running concurrently with the Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Fellowship, named after the devoted youth advocate whose dedicated her life to helping the Armenian homeland.
LSI interns and Maral Melkonian fellows are selected through a highly competitive application process with acceptance based on academic excellence and demonstrated capacity for community leadership. When not participating in a virtual program, summer interns stay at The Aramian House, an eight bedroom former bed and breakfast located in Washington DC’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood, just a short walk from the ANCA headquarters.
The 2020 Leo Sarkisian interns are Angelika Avagian, Michael Clayton-Jolly, Emylia Ellaryan, and Aram Harumi. Joining them are ANCA Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Summer Fellow Tatevik Khachatryan and Capital Gateway Program High School intern Nicholas Krikorian.
Meet the 2020 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns
Angelika Avagian is a graduating senior at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Political Science with honors and a concentration in International Relations. She recently completed a congressional internship with Congresswoman Nanette Barragan (D-CA) in Washington D.C., while conducting an independent research study on domestic terrorism. She plans to attend law school next fall and aspires to help renovate the legal and regulatory framework in the Armenian court system.
“With both the desire to uphold and develop my political breadth in Armenian issues, I am looking forward to enhancing my experience in government affairs through the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and further advance the Armenian Cause,” stated Avagian.
Michael Clayton-Jolly is a British-Armenian student about to start studying Russian and German at University College London in September 2020. While at school, Michael was involved in running a Politics Society, organizing lecture programs for pupils on the Armenian Genocide from prominent figures, including Baroness Caroline Cox, and sang with the Armenian ‘Komitas Choir’ of London.
“I am very excited to take part in the Leo Sarkisian Internship this year as it will allow me to build a stronger knowledge base on Armenian issues, arm myself with the necessary skills to fight for the Armenian Cause in the UK and meet like-minded Armenians and future leaders. I look forward to taking this knowledge and applying it to achieve Genocide Recognition and further the Armenian Cause here in the UK,” stated Clayton-Jolly.
Emylia Ellaryan is a second-year student studying International Relations and Development at the University of Westminster located at the heart of London.
“As a former student of the Saturday Armenian School I would love to share my knowledge and experience obtained from this program with the youth in the Armenian community of London. I want to tackle injustice and humanitarian matters, and further explore how public policies are influenced and shaped. I am honored to be an ANCA Leo-Sarkisian intern this year and hope that the program will provide me with the necessary tools and knowledge to advance my advocacy for the Armenian Cause in London, as well as help me in my pursuit of securing a career in diplomacy and foreign affairs in the near future,” stated Ellaryan.
Aram Harumi is a Junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying Political Science and Finance.
“I am grateful the ANCA gave me this opportunity to be a Leo Sarkisian intern. Throughout my life I have engaged in many political debates, which has led to my interest in political activism. Being Armenian, Japanese and American, I feel that I bring a different viewpoint than most, which I hope will help with my future with policy work on Capitol Hill. Even in these tough times with COVID-19, I want to make a lasting impact on behalf Armenian community through this internship. And along with my fellow interns I believe we can,” stated Harumi.
Meet the 2020 ANCA Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Summer Fellow
Tatevik Khachatryan is a senior at Roger Williams University double majoring in International Relations and Philosophy, with a core concentration in Public Health. Tatevik has been a member of the Armenian Community in Providence 16 years since she relocated to the United States with her family. Beginning with attending Armenian Saturday School to learn how to read and write, to Hamazkayin dance, along with currently continuing being an active member in Homenetmen with Scouts and athletics and being a Providence “Varantian” AYF member.
“With my experience in leadership and communication being the VP of the student body at RWU and the President of the Model United National and Model Arab League teams, I am eager to put my skills of communication, diplomacy, and negotiations to the test within this internship. I yearn to help the people of my country, my home. Having taken 2nd place in the Rhode Island National History Day competition and going onto Nationals in Washington D.C for my presentation on the Armenian Genocide, portraying a first hand victim, is merely an example of the love I have for my country and furthering the Armenian Cause. I am beyond thrilled to be working with the ANCA to gain first hand experience with working in foreign affairs. The opportunities that the Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Fellowship will give me, will allow me to fulfill my aspirations. Furthermore, allowing me to bring back what I learn to my community in Providence, to continue furthering the Hai Tahd goals,” stated Khachatryan.
Meet the 2020 ANCA Capital Gateway Program Summer High School Intern
Nicholas Krikorian is a senior from Alexandria, Virginia currently attending Thomas A. Edison High School and pursuing the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. He has been a part of the Armenian community his entire life, graduating from Hamasdegh Armenian School in 2017 and educating those outside of the community on Armenian issues. He hopes this experience will give him the tools he needs to further advocate for the Armenian community and give him an insight into firsthand activism, a field he may pursue when he later attends college.
“I feel honored to have been chosen to be an ANCA Capital Gateway Summer High School Intern for 2020. This opportunity will provide me with a unique experience in the field of political science and activism as well as educate me further on the issues people in my community face, both here, throughout the diaspora, and in Armenia and Artsakh themselves. I hope this gained perspective will aid in my coming decision on where to further my education as well as what field to enter in. I am eager and excited to see what the next two months of this internship bring,” stated Krikorian.
Follow the team’s journey on our official ANCA Facebook Page.