Earlier this week, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR) welcomed five passionate and enthusiastic community activists for its 2015 Spring Internship Program. Throughout the next 5 months, Vana Asdourian, Kachik Bogosyan, Melvin Dilanchian, Alexander Jahilian, and Ruben Zhamkochyan will partake in a series of weekly workshops and meetings in addition to completing their independent and group projects in public affairs and grassroots organizing.
“We have a very vibrant and diverse group comprising our ninth annual cohort of Spring interns. They vary in age, interest and experience, but share a common goal of working towards the betterment of their communities as well as a mutual passion to advancing the Armenian Cause. As with previous years, we look forward to providing our 2015 interns the platforms and guidelines to gain invaluable hands-on experience in grassroots advocacy and government affairs,” stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
Vana Asdourian is currently a senior at Clark Magnet High School. Her appreciation for the Armenian culture and commitment to the Armenian Cause has been instilled in her from a young age. She attended Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School and is a member of Homenetmen’s Los Angeles chapter, and Armenian Youth Federation. Vana is active in student government, and volunteers annually with Armenia Fund’s Thanksgiving Day Telethon. She has been in the Jump Start Program at Glendale Community College for the past two years and wants to continue her education after graduating with a major in BioChem and a minor in Politics. “I am proud to be part of ANCA WR’s grassroots, supporting and participating in various ANCA WR activities, but this unique experience to participate as an ANCA-WR intern will allow me to gain further insight into how this effective advocacy organization operates on a daily basis,” said Asdourian. “It will give me the skillset to help make a change while gaining a better understanding of the Armenian-American issues we are currently facing,” she added. Asdourian has been assigned to the “America We Thank You” and Government Affairs committees.
Kachik Bogosyan is currently a senior at Arshag Dickranian Armenian School. Growing up in a patriotic Armenian household, Kachik was instilled with values to not only learn about Armenia’s rich history, but to also become an advocate for his people’s stories of survival and endurance. As an enthusiast of literature penned by or about Armenian Revolutionary leaders and their struggles, he is extremely passionate about and dedicated to the Armenian Cause. Inspired most recently by the Divest Turkey initiative, Kachik is excited to be joining the ANCA –WR family as an intern at a time when the Armenian Youth Federation and the Armenians Students Associations are successfully mobilizing and bringing greater awareness to the continued denial by the Republic of Turkey against the Armenian Genocide. “It is my goal in life to constantly be of service to Armenia and our collective cause,” said Kachik. “The ANCA has provided me with this exciting internship opportunity, and I am adamant to making the most of what I learn to strengthen the Armenian voice here in the U.S.,” he added. Bogosyan has been assigned to the Hye Votes committee.
Melvin Dilanchian is a sophomore at Glendale Community College, continuing his second and final year with the Scholars Program. He serves as the Inter Organizational Council (I.O.C.) Representative of the program. In addition to Scholars, he is also the Vice President of Community Service for Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, member of Armenian Student Association and Supplemental Instructions Leader for the English Department. In the past he has interned for Congressman Adam B. Schiff. Recently, he has completed an Independent Studies project focused on gender roles and gender inequality in the Armenian cultural sphere. As for his interest in ANCA, he had the following to say: “I have been lucky enough to have access to opportunities that have enabled me to actively pursue my academic and career endeavors; however, none of those experiences directly involved the Armenian American Diaspora. This internship serves as my first direct involvement with an Armenian organization, which I find imperative for any Armenian American.” Currently, he is waiting for admission decisions from universities and is completing courses to transfer with a Transfer-Associate of Arts Degree in English. His goal is to graduate with a B.A. in English and possibly International Relations, and minor in either Spanish or Cultural Anthropology. Post undergraduate goals include applying to law school, with the hopes of practicing law. Dilanchian has been assigned to the ANCA WR Education committee.
Alexander Jahilian is currently attending California State University, Northridge in his third year as a Political Science major. In high school, Alex played football for four years, awarded Lineman of the Year and city of Santa Clarita Second Team All-League; he was granted the Senior Award in Business, and the Career Path Award in Culinary Arts. At CSUN, Alex became a member of the Armenian Student Association, and later became an Executive Member as Executive Assistant. As a part of ASA, he helped organize social events, as well as educationals to inform and spread awareness of the Armenian people and the Armenian Genocide. In his sophomore year, Alex was offered the Resident Advisor position in CSUN’s student housing and residential life. Currently in his second year under the position, Alex has taken responsibilities and training in areas of Social Justice, Oppression Reduction, Mediation, Micro and Macro event planning and budgeting, Suicide Prevention, and Community Building. Alex is the lead of two committees, previously the Freshmen Mentoring committee, and currently the Social Justice committee. He is part of a community of well over 2,000 student-residents. Aside from leading these two, Alex is also part of the First Generation Resident Scholars, a group dedicated to supporting and building networks between first-generation college students, as well as Unified We Serve, an on-campus organization directed to giving back to the community with food, toy, and clothing drives, aiding in local shelters, gardens, and care homes, and more.
Alex decided to join ANCA WR to not only continue his career goals, but to network with fellow Armenians and be part of a larger Armenian community. He is eager to support and conjoin with ANCA chapters and other professionals and interns in and out of the Western Region. “I have always wanted to join a large Armenian Community of students, professionals, interns, volunteers, workers, but more importantly, make life long relationships to support one another and strive to strengthen the Armenian people”. Jahilian has been assigned to the ANCA WR Business Outreach committee as well as Out of State Development committee.
Ruben Zhamkochyan is a senior at California State University Northridge, (CSUN) majoring in Political Science and aspires to further his education by attending law school, to thus pursue a career as a lawyer. Ruben is the great-grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors and has been inspired by their stories of not only surviving but of successfully rebuilding their lives and providing continued opportunities for their children. “As a first-generation Armenian-American I am appreciative of all of the opportunities afforded to me, opportunities that my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did not have, opportunities that I will not take for granted, but rather will take full advantage of,” expressed Ruben. “Armenians have proven to be productive members of society within their respective diasporan communities, and I intend to follow in their successful footsteps,” he added. Throughout his political science courses at CSUN, Ruben has taken every opportunity to raise awareness about the Armenian cultural legacy and its historical and political experiences, successes and struggles. He is extremely excited to be take part in ANCA-WR’s internship program and improve upon his own knowledge about advocacy and the Armenian Cause in order to better serve his community. Ruben has been assigned to the ANCA WR America We Thank You and Hye Votes committees.
Established in summer 2006, the ANCA Western Region Internship Program is a selective part-time leadership program, which introduces high school seniors, college students, and recent college graduates to all aspects of the public affairs arena. The program provides an opportunity for student leaders and activists to gain an in-depth understanding of the American political system and Armenian-American issues and advocacy efforts on the local, state and federal levels.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo Caption: ANCA WR 2015 Spring Internship Class from left Kachik Bogosyan, Vana Asdourian, Alexander Jahilian, and Melvin Dilanchian. Not photographed Ruben Zhamkochyan.