From Hye Sharzhoom
The Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) gives overseas scholars the opportunity for professional development in the United States and to study at an American university. Participants are selected by a merit-based competitive process. Kristine Antonyan from Yerevan, Armenia, demonstrated the capability to excel in the Program, and thus was selected as a recipient of the JFDP grant for the Spring 2010 semester. She is contributing to the University by giving presentations in different classes about economies in transition, and about the Bologna process, which is the transformation of European education.
Antonyan spent two days at an orientation at Kansas University, before arriving at Fresno State. “All the participants are very vigorous, young, and motivated faculty members in their universities. I am glad I had a chance to get acquainted with them and gain new good friends. I felt very happy to be selected,” said Antonyan.
She was placed at Fresno State through her contact with Armenian Studies Program Director Barlow Der Mugrdechian, who conducted a Faculty Development Program at Yerevan State University, from 1999-2004. She had become familiar with some faculty who visited Armenia and she considered Fresno State her ideal university for placement.
A 29 years old, Antonyan graduated from Yerevan State University with a specialty in Economics. Two years ago, her interest in economics led her to pursue her Ph.D. from the same university. Antonyan’s interest in improving the quality of Armenia’s educational system is based on several factors: growing up in an family of teachers, being a young scholar herself, and having a young child who attends school in Yerevan.
“I will have a chance to realize my goal, to see what things are like in the United States, and to make new connections. I plan to learn a lot and implement what I have learned in my courses and in my research,” said Antonyan.
Antonyan further described why she wants to contribute to the educational system in Armenia and why the need for development came into effect. She commented that Armenia didn’t always have a need to improve its educational system, but the collapse of the Soviet Union meant a financial disaster for the educational system. Armenia was in a struggle to find a way to save what remained of its educational system.
Antonyan plans to sit in on various undergraduate and graduate courses in her field of study, and to learn new ways to apply that knowledge. She has also taken an interest in the field of educational leadership, which will allow her to use those skills to help enhance Armenia’s educational system.
The first thing that Antonyan liked as she stepped onto the Fresno State campus was the friendly educational atmosphere. She also enjoyed the fact that students are allowed to choose their own courses. Students are given flexibility and freedom to choose their own educational path—something she hopes Armenia can develop and implement in their system.
Along with attending courses and giving lectures, Antonyan also is working on writing a textbook on State Regulation of Economy that she hopes to publish soon. She also hopes to write an article dealing with the differences in the educational system between the United States and Armenia.
Antonyan’s involvement with the JFDP program, and more specifically with Fresno State, not only provide her with a glimpse of how international educational systems differ, but also allows her to interact with other faculty members from whom she can learn different teaching styles.
“This program provides for professional development and the opportunity to gain additional resources to help in her field,” said Armenian Studies Director and Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, “In coming to Fresno State, she is also able to interact with the Armenian community and the Armenian Studies Program.”
Antonyan has proven to be an ideal candidate for the Fulbright Program with her desire to learn and to implement changes. Her passion for education will allow her to grasp the important educational developments at Fresno State and make her classroom an advanced educational environment for her students. She will return to Yerevan in May of this year.