YEREVAN—Karine Sarkissian, a cherished alumni from the American University of Armenia’s first graduating class of 1993, was recently hired as Chief Executive Officer of the Insurance Foundation for Servicemen, commonly known as the 1000plus.am organization. An accomplished alumna, Sarkissian has enjoyed a rich career filled with notable milestones, all of which she proudly attributes to her AUA education.
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Sarkissian is proud of her upbringing in her homeland, a place from which she can’t envision being far from. “I am an Armenian from Armenia, and I will always be here,” she said. Raised and educated in a Soviet society, she recalls being one of many who dreamt of traveling to the United States to explore the western lifestyle, culture, education, and work opportunities. After the collapse of the USSR, freedom and autonomy of decision-making were granted to citizens and many constraints were lifted. Soon after, AUA was founded, and Sarkissian was granted the opportunity to join the first cohort of graduates.
Speaking about her experiences at AUA in those early years, Sarkissian recalls admiring the faculty and appreciating the totally different educational style at the University, which she credits for shaping her as a professional. “The whole class [of 1993] demonstrated a great passion for learning and felt privileged to be studying in the American education system, which also came with its own challenges as it was totally new to us,” she says. After obtaining her MBA in 1993, she continued her studies in management at Northwestern University in Illinois as a recipient of the Edmund S. Muskie Scholarship Program, graduating in 1995 and returning back home to Armenia.
Since then, Sarkissian has held key leadership positions with reputable companies in both the private and public sectors, including Johnson & Johnson; the Coca-Cola Company; the United Nations; the Austrian Development Agency; and the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia. In her most recent appointment as CEO of the Insurance Foundation for Servicemen — established to provide compensation for the well-being of fallen, missing, and disabled Armenian soldiers and their families — she feels greatly honored and a strong sense of responsibility. “We all owe a debt of gratitude to war victims and their families who sacrificed their lives for our country, and we will do our best to support them financially, as well as connect them with the proper resources so they may prosper and thrive,” said Sarkissian.
As Armenia continues to recover and grow in a post-war and post-pandemic society, Sarkissian acknowledges the critical role education will play in Armenia’s economic growth and advancement. Noting AUA’s 30th anniversary, Sarkissian reiterates the University’s tremendous contributions in setting and maintaining the highest standards of quality and globally competitive education, saying, “AUA plays a flagship role as a model for other educational institutions to replicate. AUA has successfully generated thousands of graduates who have impacted and will continue to impact Armenia. With a highly educated generation, we can build a better society and a powerful and globally competitive Armenian nation.”
As a successful alumna, Sarkissian imparts sound advice to current and future AUA students and graduates, emphasizing the importance of clearly drawing their career objectives early on and working toward achieving them through volunteer or internship opportunities available to them as soon as possible. “Today’s job market is very dynamic. One needs to be in a continuous learning mode to develop the soft and technical skills necessary to stay competitive in the workplace and benefit one’s personal life,” she comments, reminding everyone to “be a proud graduate of AUA, the leading educational institution in Armenia.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.