2017 Interns Learn Grassroots Advocacy, Advance Policy Priorities, Make Connections in Washington, DC
WASHINGTON—Hailing from California to Massachusetts, Michigan and Montreal, they have all gathered in Washington, DC for a singular purpose – to hone their leadership in advancing Armenian American policy priorities. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Leo Sarkisian Internship (LSI) and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program (CGP) have welcomed their largest group of summer fellows for this unique boot camp for the Armenian Cause, with additional participants arriving in the upcoming weeks.
“The ANCA is fortunate, once again, to have an incredible crew of energetic and committed students from top universities devoting their summer to expanding their leadership and community organizing skills to advance our collective cause,” said Tereza Yerimyan, ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Director, who manages both programs. “During eight weeks of intensive training, they’ll get first hand insight into how our federal government works and how best to empower locally to shape policies nationally.”
ANCA LSI and CGP participants went through a rigorous application process with acceptance based on academic excellence as well as a strong track-record of community involvement and student leadership. Fellows engage in a wide range of research projects tailored to their areas of interest while increasing their political understanding through Congressional meetings, think tank talks, and bi-weekly lectures by members of the diplomatic community and public policy experts. Summer interns in need of housing stay at The Aramian House, located in Washington DC’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood, just a short walk from the ANCA headquarters.
The 2017 Leo Sarkisian interns include Shant Eulmessekian, Shushan Gabrielyan, Hagop Housbian, Harout Manougian, Taleen Simonian, Mari Tikoyan, and Leonardo Torosian. They are joined by CGP fellows Anna Avannesyan, Gregor Bayburtian, Monique Bolsajian, Stephen Boursalian, Garen Kosoyan, Marie Papazian, and Noor Varjabedian, with additional interns arriving throughout the summer.
Each intern is motivated and eager to do their part in furthering the Armenian Cause while utilizing the resources and opportunities provided by the ANCA and the city of Washington, DC, while truly living out the motto of the ANCA: “Educate, Motivate, Activate.”
Established in 1986 and named in memory of the late ANCA Eastern U.S. community leader who spearheaded grassroots activism to advance the Armenian Cause 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.
Meet the 2017 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns:
Shant Eulmessekian is a freshman at Glendale Community College (GCC), who will be applying to the University of California Los Angeles in the fall of 2017. In addition to serving as Senator of Activities in student government, he was recently announced as President of the Honors Program at GCC.
“The Leo Sarkisian Internship will allow me to solidify my political interests while giving me the opportunity to work with dedicated, motivated, and talented individuals,” said Eulmessekian. “Living in the nation’s capital, and working 10 minutes away from the White House – I look forward to exploring all that this great city has to offer.”
Shushan Gabrielyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia and moved to the United States with her family at the age of 5. In the fall, she will be studying philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She has been involved in the ANCA for many years, including an internship in the local ANCA-Glendale chapter. Recently, she concluded an internship with Congressman Adam B. Schiff (D-CA). She is deeply passionate about social progress, specifically relating to gender inequality in Armenia.
“I am thrilled to be spending the summer with other students from across North America, learning about the mission and vision of the ANCA, advocating for the Armenian Cause, and building relationships that will last for a lifetime,” explained Gabrielyan. “I hope to return home inspired and emboldened, ready to share with my community what I have learned this summer.”
Hagop Housbian is a senior at the University of La Verne majoring in International Studies and minoring in Psychology. He has been an active member at the La Verne Model United Nations club, having served as an Executive board member for two consecutive years. Last year, Hagop was among a handful of his peers in founding and initiating the ULV Armenian Club. Since then, he has worked with his fellow Armenian peers in hosting several on-campus events on genocide recognition, cultural education, and traditional showcasing – an initiative that he considers as a regional grassroots movement inspired by the ANCA.
“My aim for these next eight weeks is to learn and accumulate the tools and strategies necessary for the push toward the common struggle in the name of righteousness and freedom. Bearing cognizance that I am among the future leaders of the Armenian Cause, surrounding myself with my fellow peers with the same vision is a true emblem of shared responsibility toward the greater good of our community,” noted Housbian. “I believe the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship will prove to be the prevailing impetus in galvanizing the shared Armenian Dream at the behest of the Hai Tahd.”
Harout Manougian will be starting a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government this fall, focusing on electoral design and administration. He has served on the Armenian Students’ Association at the University of Waterloo in Canada, as well as the Central Executive of the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada. In 2012, he was elected as one of 22 Trustees at the Toronto District School Board. More recently, he was a board member with the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto.
“The work that the ANCA accomplishes is unmatched,” stated Manougian. “It’s an honor for me to be spending the summer with such a talented, dedicated team.”
Taleen Simonian is a rising junior at Boston University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Political Science. She is an active member of the Boston University Armenian Students Association and the Providence “Varantian” AYF chapter. She also serves on the AYF Eastern Region Public Relations Committee.
“I am extremely excited to work with the ANCA this summer as a Leo Sarkisian Intern. Not only will this opportunity challenge me, it will allow me to impact causes I am passionate about,” explained Simonian. I cannot wait to immerse myself in meaningful projects that will give me a first-hand look at the foundations of politics.”
Mari Tikoyan is a rising senior at the University of Maryland-College Park. She is studying public health science and hopes to attend law school after graduation. Her interests lie in health education, advocacy, health equity, and human rights. At university, she is a Peer Health Educator and a mentor for College Mentor for Kids. In addition, Mari has been heavily involved with the Washington DC AYF chapter for the past 11 years, holding several leadership positions. Regionally, Mari has served on the AYF Central Javakhk Committee and the Central Junior Committee.
“I am excited to spend my summer as a Leo Sarkisian intern,” said Tikoyan. “I have heard wonderful things about this program and all the opportunities it provides. I always grew up with the ANCA in my backyard, but I am excited to finally see how it operates and how I can help my community from the tools I learn this summer.”
Leonardo Torosian was born in Córdoba, Argentina and moved to Canada at an early age with his family. He studies Political Science and Philosophy in Montreal, at the McGill University. He is also an active member in the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and Co-President of the McGill Armenian Students’ Association. Very interested in local politics, he is the President of one of Montreal’s 19 boroughs’ Youth Councils. He is also part of the Youth Council of Montreal and the Québec Youth Parliament.
“I am enormously proud of being a Leo Sarkissian intern,” said Torosian. “I hope these two months will be a hands-on experience where I will be able to learn and serve my community. My philosophy is that knowing is not enough, we must apply. I am honored to work for an organization that shares my deepest values.”
Meet the 2017 ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program Summer Fellows:
Anna Avanesyan is a student at Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC, where she is in the 11th grade. She enjoys playing tennis and theatre, and greatly looks forward to working with the ANCA this summer to further connect with and learn about her Armenian heritage. Avanesyan believes that the best way to become in touch with one’s roots is to “educate oneself on the affairs of the state, and advocate for the well being of the people,” leading to a stronger connection, and sense of affinity to create a deeper understanding of the people and culture which one stems from.”
Gregor Bayburtian is a rising Senior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD interested in political science and languages. Gregor participated in the Arakadz Summer Camp with the Fund for Armenian Relief, where he was Director of Sports for Syrian Armenian Children at the Camp.
“The ANCA program is a rare opportunity which will allow me to prepare for my future career while simultaneously maintaining a strong connection with my roots,” explained Bayburtian.
Monique Bolsajian is a rising junior at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is currently double majoring in Global Studies and English. She is a member of the UCSB ASA and participates in their genocide awareness events, and is also active in Homenetmen Massis Chapter’s scouting program through their venturing crew. Monique also works in UCSB’s Residential and Community Living department where she plans community development programs for undergraduates in campus housing.
“I’ve always wanted to participate firsthand in the work that the ANCA does for the Armenian-American community, and to do that in the nation’s capital is an incredible opportunity,” said Bolsajian. “I am looking forward to learning about the ways the ANCA works with the federal government, and I know that the Capital Gateway Program will provide me with the skills I need to continue this work in the future.”
Stephen Boursalian born in Springfield, VA and is currently a senior studying Management Information Systems at Oakland University. Boursalian produces two podcasts — AutoLink and Detroit / International – interviewing members of the automotive community as well as Detroit-area artists of all media.
“I want to give back to a community that has given me so much over the years in one of the best ways I can,” said Boursalian. “I’m looking forward to applying the skills I’ve developed in my time, and I’m glad the ANCA will help me develop as a professional.” He also noted, “I’m excited to experience the dynamic of NGOs and governmental organizations at large.”
Garen Kosoyan is a rising junior at Pepperdine University majoring in Political Science and Economics. He will be serving as Vice President of the Armenian Student Association of Pepperdine University beginning this fall. Through the CGP, Garen is interning for the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC).
“Working with the ALC’s Kate Nahapetian has been an amazing opportunity,” said Kosoyan. “Through my various research projects, I‘ve been able to explore the richness of Armenian culture and heritage as well as participate in the legal fight for justice of the Armenian Genocide.”
Marie Papazian is a rising college freshman from San Jose, California. She recently graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, and will be attending Barnard College of Columbia University this coming fall. She is hoping to study both Human Rights and Creative Writing during her undergraduate years. She was the public relations officer of her school’s gender equality club and hopes to further understand how to alleviate gender inequalities in Armenia.
“Given my interest in Public Policy, coupled with my hope to become a strong advocate for Armenian issues, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity that the ANCA has granted me,” said Papazian. “I am most excited to make contacts with our Armenian allies in Washington, as well as to learn more about ways in which I can become a strong activist in my own region. One day, I hope to return to D.C. to continue our work.”
Noor Varjabedian is a rising senior at the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in marketing with a minor in sports management. Last summer, she participated in AYF Youth Corps Program in Armenia and Artsakh, where she worked with Armenian youth in Proshyan, Gyumri and Askeran. She plays field hockey at UMW and enjoys traveling whenever possible.
“I am extremely excited to be participating in ANCA’s Capital Gateway Program and am eager to learn more about the importance and impact ANCA has on the Armenian-American community,” said Varjabedian. “I hope my time interning in D.C. will be an impactful one.”