The new academic year presumes many rural Armenian youths moving to Yerevan, Gyumri, or Vanadzor (the cities where most state universities are located) to start university in their preferred professional field.
Aghunik Shambaryan, a COAF SMART student from the town of Alaverdi, is one of them. Already an alumna, she considers her three-year journey of SMART the most fruitful chapter of her life. “I gained so much: from knowledge to networking.”
It’s been a few days since Aghunik moved to Yerevan to study at the Armenian State Pedagogical University. Her chosen profession is as unique as most of her hobbies: miniature drawing, qanun playing, and engineering.
“I pursue a degree in surdo-pedagogy as on the one hand, there are many people with hearing and speech difficulties in my community. On the other hand, we have very few specialists in the field,” explains Aghunik, who is among the five students admitted to the department. Though five sounds like a small number for a single department, Aghunik says, it’s not quite so, “Last year the department didn’t have any applicants, the year before — it had only one student.”
Along with surdo-pedagogical education, Aghunik wants to specialize in bioengineering and endeavor prostheses manufacturing. “Many men have lost part of their bodies as a result of the recent war in Artsakh. Hence, I want to have my professional input in this field too.”
Her interest in bioengineering comes from the Mechanics program of the SMART Center. Her instructor Ara Harutyunyan, who she considers her lucky charm, ensured his students’ participation in the AESA Science Olympiad, taking place in Los Angeles for Armenian students from all over the world. The diligence and “the lucky charm” worked well: Aghunik and his classmate Suren Danileyan won first place in the Olympiad!
Moving to Yerevan has opened many doors for Aghunik. She’s knocking on the doors one by one and wholeheartedly welcoming the opportunities offered to her. “I’ll do the utmost to gain the maximum during my four years in Yerevan,” she says.
To her, the capital and Sanahin are different in many ways. “Here in Yerevan, the traffic is a lot, and people don’t like it. In Sanahin, traffic brings us joy as we assume many non-locals have come to visit a touristic place in our community,” confesses she.
Though Aghunik still has to explore a whole new big city, she already finds herself seeking the majestic nature, tranquility, and clean air always awaiting her in her hometown Sanahin.