YEREVAN—The American University of Armenia on December 2 celebrated the 2022 Alumni Homecoming under the theme “You Make Us Proud.”
The traditional annual homecoming event featured a photo exhibit of alumni reunions from previous years displayed at Agbabian Hall on the ground floor of the Main Building of the University for touring upon entering the building. The event was very successful and brought to campus AUA alumni from different graduation classes, their families and friends, as well as current students. There was also significant turnout by AUA faculty and staff.
This year, the classes of 2017, 2012, 2007, 2002, and 1997 celebrated their fifth, tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, and twenty-fifth anniversaries of graduation, respectively. The celebration in the Large Auditorium started with this year’s hostess, alumna Margaret Ryan Rostamian (BAB ‘17), sharing her unique AUA memories and energizing the audience with her vibrant storytelling. She skillfully kept the audience engaged throughout the rest of the program telling fun stories from her student years.
Speaking first on the program was AUA President Dr. Karin Markides, who said, “Welcome AUA Alumni! It is a pleasure to see you all here at your alma mater. At the beginning of this year, I had the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and meet our wonderful alumni communities in different cities. During my time as AUA president, I have had the privilege to interact with many of our alumni. One thing has been clear: AUA has changed their lives and has opened up many possibilities for them,” she emphasized.
“This is my last year joining you as the president of AUA, and it has been a privilege to serve as the president of this University. I thank you for all the great memories and experiences we have shared. The past few years have been filled with many challenges, but I am proud to have had the opportunity to meet and work with many of you. Staying connected to your alma mater is extremely important. I encourage you to remain connected with AUA. I will continue to be your biggest supporter and ambassador. Though I am not Armenian by blood, I am Armenian in my heart,” remarked Dr. Markides in her heartfelt speech.
The President’s speech was followed by development updates presented by AUA Chief Communications Officer Narek Ghazaryan. He first shared some important organizational updates in the department and introduced the new Office of Alumni Relations team with the newly appointed Associate Director Margarit Hovhannisyan and Alumni Relations Coordinator Ani Aleksanyan. Then he gave an overview of events that have kicked off since January and were successfully implemented. He also shared some alumni statistics and major University additions, including new academic programs and appointments. Another important update was about the “Build a Better Future With AUA” capital campaign for the construction and furnishing of a new Science and Engineering Building.
As an annual tradition, the winner of the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award was announced. It had been a tough call to select one among three distinguished alumni, since all three nominees are outstanding professionals who are committed to their alma mater. This year’s award went to Karine Sarkissian (MBA ‘93), chief executive officer of the Insurance Foundation for Servicemen, commonly known as the 1000plus.am organization established to provide compensation for the wellbeing of fallen, missing, or disabled Armenian soldiers and their families. The prior year’s distinguished alumnus Artavazd Minasyan, together with President Markides, handed the award.
An accomplished alumna, Sarkissian has enjoyed a rich career filled with notable milestones and accomplishments, all of which she proudly attributes to her AUA education. Sarkissian has held key leadership positions with reputable companies in both the private and public sectors, including Johnson & Johnson; Coca-Cola; the United Nations; the Austrian Development Agency; and the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia. Reflecting on the role of AUA back in the 90s when it was founded, Sarkissian said, “AUA was a light at the end of the tunnel in 1991.” Thanking the University founders as well as the organizers of the event, she made an emotional speech, highlighting that she could not have imagined that after 30 years she would earn the distinguished alumna award. “I would like to dedicate this award to our soldiers, since in my current job, I have devoted my efforts to bringing light to the families of our soldiers who have fallen during hard times for our country,” she remarked.
Following Sarkissian’s heartfelt remarks, two Alumni Endowment Fund Scholarship recipients were invited on the stage: current student Karine Gahramanyan (BAPG ‘25) and alumna Liana Minasyan (BSCS ‘21). In turn, they shared with the audience how the Alumni Endowment Fund Scholarship has helped transform their lives and why it is important to contribute to this fund. Theaudience then had a chance to make donations on the spot by scanning the QR code on the stage screen.
At the end of the ceremony, all the classes celebrating their anniversaries this year were invited for a group photo on the stage. The celebration culminated in a special performance by beloved singer Gor Sujyan.
Following the formal part of the reunion, everyone gathered at the Bezjian Cafeteria for a festive reception and slicing of the cake.
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.