YEREVAN — On October 17, the Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies held its fifth annual Silicon Mountains Tech Summit, a leading platform for global discussions on technology and innovation that provides the fitting space for networking, learning, and sharing visions of digital transformation and smart solutions. The summit also featured an award ceremony, during which four AUA students received the “Best Student in the Field of IT” award: Hrach Yeghiazaryan (BSCS ’24), Gayane Ghazaryan (BSCS ’24), Petros Mkheyan (MSCIS ’24), and Levon Keshishoghlyan (MSCIS ’24). This week, we asked Gayane and Petros to recount their journeys to this prestigious recognition.

Gayane Ghazaryan (BSCS ’24)
My journey into the STEM field has been exciting and the award was unexpected. Since childhood, I have had a profound passion for mathematics and technology. I have actively engaged in various activities at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, participating in numerous workshops through which I honed skills in 3D modeling, motion graphics, music, creative writing, and more — everything except for programming, as I thought it would not appeal to me (perhaps due to the HTML task I had to complete on the first day). Little did I know that years later, I couldn’t imagine life without programming. During my last year in high school and while I was completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma program in Tbilisi, I started to delve deeper into the field of mathematics and, on the suggestion of a family friend, began to explore computer science. That is when I discovered the fascinating connection between math and computer science.

After graduating from EaP European School in Tbilisi, I began undergraduate studies at AUA in 2020. Since then, I gained a wide range of skills that have been incredibly useful in both my academic and professional endeavors. AUA enhanced my skills thanks to the exceptional instructors who taught core concepts in various subjects and ignited our passion for our chosen career paths. The general education courses at AUA sparked new interests, such as biology and linguistics, which I successfully incorporated into my studies and integrated in interdisciplinary projects. Aside from my AUA coursework, I actively participated in various training programs at organizations such as PicsArt Academy, Armenian Bioinformatics Institute, and Armenian Code Academy. I seized every opportunity to enhance my skills and explore different aspects of the industry. In addition to my academic pursuits, I also work as a mathematics teacher at Mathico Advanced Math School, where I help students prepare for math competitions, such as Math Kangaroo and Space Panda. This has been a gratifying experience, and I genuinely enjoy working with younger students, motivating them to strive for excellence. As a young educator, my aim is to mirror the professionalism of my own instructors and inspire my students just as they have inspired me.

I still remember the excitement that rushed through me when I received the letter nominating me for the “Best Bachelor’s Student in the Field of IT” award. I want to express my gratitude to the College of Science and Engineering for recognizing my hard work and nominating me for this award. Shortly after my interview at Synopsys, I was happy to receive the much-anticipated call informing me about winning the award.

That stands as one of the most thrilling moments in my life, and I am grateful to have been able to share it with my family, friends, and instructors. Their unwavering support has been instrumental throughout my journey, as I wouldn’t be in this position without their constant encouragement and belief in me. They have served as my role models, a constant source of inspiration, and a powerful motivation to push through the most challenging moments.

The journey of higher education can be challenging at times. This recognition is an acknowledgement of the persistence and dedication I have vested into it. It serves as a constant reminder that hard work and determination truly pay off. I am more motivated than ever to continue striving for excellence, not only for my personal growth, but also to contribute positively to the proud legacy of my institution and the progress of my country on the global stage.

Petros Mkheyan (MSCIS ’24)
Technology has always been of great interest to me from an early age. Until my last year of high school, I wanted to become a doctor, but my interest in technology and exploring how things work eventually led me away from the medical field into IT, and I have not regretted that decision to this day. From afar, it might seem that IT is all about writing codes. But, when you get into it, you realize that it has so many moving parts, all of which come together to create systems that serve the purpose of solving problems in various areas of our lives.

I was accepted to AUA back in 2016, but left for military service almost immediately afterwards, and only started my University studies in 2018, enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program. It was not easy to return to an academic environment after the two-year military service, but I knew that was the only path forward for me. After four fantastic years at AUA, enhancing my knowledge and expanding my network, I graduated in 2022. Still, the journey was only getting started. I then decided to continue my studies uninterrupted for a master’s degree in computer and information science, and again, I have no regrets. As I get closer to receiving my master’s degree, I realize that these two years have been more eventful than I could have expected.

After completing my first year as a graduate student, I was gearing up for the summer break when I learned about an opportunity, which became instrumental in what followed. Though I was familiar with the “Presidential Award in IT” for students, the prospect of becoming one of the recipients seemed unattainable at the time. Now renamed “Best Student in the field of IT” award, it has undergone several changes, but its significance hasn’t wavered; so I seized the opportunity to interview for the award as part of the qualifying process. After some time, I received the call informing me I had won the award.

However, the journey to the award was neither easy nor smooth, which lays out the significance of the award. It required my concerted effort and the support of many around me. It is a wonderful feeling to receive such a prestigious recognition, especially when your family is present and proud to see you walk up on stage to receive it. This award is not the end, but is rather motivational to further propel my educational and professional career. I am truly stimulated by what the future holds.

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