The Armenian Assembly of America's Terjenian-Thomas interns meet with Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) on Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. - A talented and bright group of Armenian American college students from across the country concluded their participation in the Armenian Assembly of America's (Assembly) 2023 Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program in Washington D.C., where they assumed prominent roles in the nation's capital and learned about advocating for Armenia and Artsakh. A group of dedicated interns also participated in the Assembly's Summer Internship Program in Armenia, where participants experienced professional and personal experiences living and working in the homeland. "For generations now, the Assembly has welcomed aspiring young men and women to Washington, D.C., and Yerevan, Armenia, to gain hands-on experience in various fields, from government and nonprofits to think tanks and research centers," said Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "We are extremely proud of our interns and honored to be part of their journey. We have every confidence that this year’s cohort will become tomorrow’s leaders," added Ardouny.
The Armenian Assembly of America's Terjenian-Thomas interns with Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Capitol Hill
Interns experience on-the-ground training in the offices they work in throughout the eight-week internship. For Marie Bogdanoff, who was a summer intern in the office of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), she appreciated the balance between her professional duties, such as drafting policy letters, and being exposed to Assembly guest speakers and social events. "The Armenian Assembly internship program has allowed me the opportunity to work at a Congressional office in the U.S. House of Representatives, while also learning about Armenian issues and connecting with fellow young Armenian professionals from across the globe," said Marie, who is a recent graduate of New York University, where she completed a BA in English and American Literature with Minors in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Web Programming. "Experiencing Washington, D.C. as a summer intern in such a unique program has given me new skills and connections, along with memories that I will always cherish."
Marie Bogdanoff with Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)
Following a positive experience as a White House intern in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, Lily Kalandjian, a rising senior at the University of Florida studying Political Science and Chinese, plans to return to D.C. after she graduates to pursue a career in public policy. "I'm so grateful to the Assembly for their support while I interned in D.C., where I was able to make lifelong friends with like-minded Armenian American students from across the country while advocating for our cause on Capitol Hill," said Lily. "My favorite part of the summer was meeting Armenian professionals and Assembly alumni in D.C. and hearing about how they continue to empower our community in their own careers." As an intern at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), Sophia Vlahakis focused on the political watchdog's communications efforts, where she monitored digital analytics and assisted in writing and researching for projects surrounding political ethics. "Living and working in Washington D.C. is a learning experience every day about the state of politics and how we can better the world," said Sophia, a New York native who is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University, pursuing majors in Journalism and Political Science and a minor in Statistics. "Whether it be at work, uncovering ethics violations and promoting transparency in government, or at Armenian Assembly events asking speakers about their journeys and Armenia as a whole, I find that I am continuously being empowered in my ability and curiosity to be a better public and world citizen." In addition to internship placements, the Assembly organized thought-provoking lectures and programming featuring guest speakers, (many of whom are alumni of the Assembly's Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program) including Professor Aram A. Gavoor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University; Grigor Sargsyan, Principal Portfolio Manager & Head and World Bank Trading Desk; Sheriff of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Peter Koutoujian; Alexander Keledjian, Director of Operations for Congresswoman Young Kim (R-CA); Dr. Rouben Adalian, PhD, Director of the Armenian National Institute; Lauren Garry-Boggio, attorney-advisor at Federal Communications Commission; Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States; Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at Library of Congress; Congressman Joseph Morelle (D-NY); Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ); Sam Tatevosyan, Head of Federal Government Relations for the McDonald's Corporation; Senator Anthony Padilla (D-CA); Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA); Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ); Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ); Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA); Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CA); Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD); Ara Sarafian, Executive Director of the Gomidas Institute; Robert George, Booz Allen Hamilton; Raffi Nersessian, Deptartment of Energy; Maria Martirosyan Issakhanian, Congressional Armenian Staffers Association.
The Armenian Assembly of America's Terjenian-Thomas interns with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
For Peter Koutoujian, working on Capitol Hill for the office of Senator Markey (D-MA) provided unique opportunities such as sitting in on briefings and hearings while learning about how to directly impact legislation. "I'll always be eternally grateful for this opportunity provided by the Assembly, particularly the guest speaker series that provided me with insight on life in D.C. and what it means to me Armenian," said Peter, who is from Waltham, Massachusetts and is the son of Sheriff Koutoujian. He is a rising third-year student at Bridgewater State University where he studies political science. "I hope to continue my career in politics both at the state and federal level, and I will always work toward fighting for the Armenian cause and raising awareness toward our issues." Another highlight of the program was Congressman Kevin Kiley's (R-CA) acknowledgement in the Congressional record of Assembly intern Khori Cranford on National Intern Day, noting that Khori has "embraced her Armenian heritage and was selected to participate in the highly competitive Armenian Assembly of America as part of the Terjenian-Thomas internship this summer," prior to enrolling in a master's degree program in communications at San Diego State University. The Assembly's flagship Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program, which marks its 46th year, along with its sister Summer Internship Program in Armenia, has welcomed over 1,200 students in the past four decades. The programs offer students internships in government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and mass media, as well as meetings with elected officials, community leaders, entrepreneurs and leading professionals in various fields including law, business, and academics, among others. This year's D.C. intern class included: Ani Ajamian, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); Juli Arakelyan, Armenian National Institute (ANI); Anna Artutyunyan, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia; Marie Bogdanoff, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY); Khori Cranford, Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA); Seran Goudsouzian, ANI; Tioné Hoeckner, Senatorial Campaign Committee; Elen Hovhannisyan, Armenian Assembly of America Assistant Coordinator; Gagik Hohannisyan, Rep. Kevin Mullin (D-CA); Katerina Hovnanian, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Lily Kalandjian, White House; Edward Khatchatrian, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA); Peter Koutoujian, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA); Sarine Megeurditchian, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA); Colette Nishanian, ANI; Shannon O'Malley, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA); Vadan Sargsyan, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Yury Vardanyan, ANI; Sophia Vlahakis, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
The Assembly's 2023 Terjenian-Thomas internship program participants
The Assembly's Summer Internship Program in Armenia gave participants the opportunity to engage in meaningful work while living in Yerevan.
Interns at the Armenian Alphabet Monument in Artashaban, Armenia
"The Armenian Assembly's Summer Internship Program in Armenia was an extremely rewarding experience both professionally and personally," said Mané Berikyan, who interned with CivilNet and the Regional Studies Center. A native of Los Angeles, California, Mané is a junior at the University of Southern California, where she studies International Relations and is on the pre-law track. "The program was not only culturally enriching, but also helped me better imagine a professional future for myself in Armenia."
Assembly interns volunteering with the Fuller Center for Housing in Armenia
For Vahan Hakobyan, the program allowed him to "get out of my comfort zone and experience Armenia in an incredibly meaningful way." Vahan, who is from Richmond, Virginia, is a junior at The University of Virginia College of Arts & Sciences, where he studies Economics with a concentration in International Economics, and interned with the Municipality of Yerevan. "Throughout the summer I was able to learn and grow as an individual, while also enjoying all that Armenia has to offer."
Interns at the Armenia Tree Project's Karin Nursery with Assembly President Carolyn Mugar, founder of Armenia Tree Project (ATP). ATP has successfully planted over 7 million trees and greened over 1,300 communities in Armenia and Artsakh, while employing thousands of people, including local villagers. Also in the photo, Assembly Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Assembly Regional Director Arpi Vartanian
Siblings Areny and Varant Tchalikian appreciated the professional and personal aspects of interning in Armenia, with Areny noting that the program "gives you the chance to do what you love in your homeland." Areny and Vartant are both seniors at California State University, Northridge, where Areny studies Public Health, and Vartant is pursuing Information Technologies. Areny interned with the Armenian American Wellness Center, and Varant at the Matenadaran's Department of Digitization.
Interns learning the traditional way of making lavash bread
"The Assembly's Summer Internship Program means to be a part of Armenia's growing industries, while exploring your motherland," said Varant. "Each of our 2023 interns had visited Armenia in the past, yet we were excited to hear that they all learned or discovered something new thanks to the Assembly's internship program," said Anna Avagyan, Internship Coordinator. "The interns welcomed the opportunities the program presented and are already looking ahead to their return to Armenia. We look forward to meeting our future interns as they embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Summer Internship Program in their historical homeland." Participants in the Assembly's Yerevan Internship Program included Areny Tchalikian, Varant Tchalikian, Mané Berikyan, Vahan Hakobyan, Sophie Mikayelyan, and Mariam Dangyan. For more information about the Assembly's 2024 Internship Programs, as well as the Assembly's financial aid directory, please click here. The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program application is available here, and the Summer Internship Program in Armenia application can be found here. The Armenian Assembly of America Summer Internship Program has been celebrated and strongly supported by the Armenian community with major gifts from the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Fund, the John Hanessian Scholarship Fund, the Armen Astarjian Scholarship Fund, the Ohanian Memorial Fund, Ann Hintlian, Ann Nahigian, James and Connie Melikian, the Knights of Vartan, the Estate of Haig J. Boyadjian, and the Estate of George Judge Karabedian (George Kay), as well as generous contributions in memory of former Assembly Board Members Dr. Lionel Galstaun, Peter Kezirian, and John O'Connor. In 2003, the Armenian Assembly's Summer Internship Program was renamed in honor of Aram and Florence Terjenian and Annie Thomas after the announcement of their pace-setting $1 million donation to the program.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.