THRIVE is an AIWA project dedicated to highlighting individuals who are doing remarkable things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Shoghik Mikayelyan, Executive Director and Co-Founder at Nor Luyce Mentoring Center for Youth NGO.
Shoghik Mikayelyan (She/Her) is the Executive Director and Co-Founder at Nor Luyce Mentoring Center for Youth NGO.
Shoghik got her first degree in English Language and School psychology at Yerevan State Linguistic University. Her second M.Ed with an outstanding GPA she received in Counseling and Human services at Lehigh University as a Fulbright student. During her career life, Shoghik has worked as a coordinator or manager in various prestigious organizations such as Birthright Armenia, Historic Armenian Houses, etc. She also volunteered in conducting a number of professional workshops in her community. She was the first one in her community to voice about bullying at Shirak region schools and organizing workshops both for the students and teachers providing them information about how to stop bullying. Shoghik could also get ECOSOC status for Nor Luyce NGO which allowed the organization to submit reports to high-level forums. She has also served as jury member during the state exams of counseling in Shirak State University. Shoghik speaks three languages: Armenian, English and Russian. During her free time she likes to play the piano and read books.
Currently, Shoghik is working on two research projects with Lehigh University Youth Reps and she is also developing her organization providing more services to adolescent girls from orphanages and socially vulnerable families, along with enlarging her international collaboration to bring more changes both locally and internationally.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born in Gyumri, Armenia. I studied in Yerevan for 5 years and then 2 years in the USA as a Fulbright student; however, I kept coming back to Gyumri because I feel I have a lot of things to do here. I have my organization here and a number of young girls who need to feel empowered in their lives. I can say I am a person, who cares about people. I had this feeling even when I was a child. I remember I was about 4 years old when I was going to English language tutoring classes at the local Esthetic center. It was almost a year after the earthquake. So this center had big French windows and these windows were all covered with pictures and announcements of kids and people missing during the earthquake. Every time when I would pass by these windows, I would ask my mom to read what those announcements were saying. My mom would only read one or two lines and wouldn’t read the rest. I knew that she didn’t want to upset me with those notes. However, I wanted to learn more about them. I wanted to know each detail of every missing kid. I was dreaming about how I would find each of the kids and take them home. I didn’t think about where and how I would find them or where I should take them, the most important thing for me was to take them home.
Q: What is your life philosophy?
I believe that every human being carries a huge potential in herself/himself. However, if they are not in the right atmosphere or setting, then this potential fades away. Nevertheless, if any of them are provided with any type of support, care or attention, then they will have an opportunity to flourish and grow. I also believe that if the young generation is provided with a safe space to share their challenges and gain emotional well-being, and have support, they will feel empowered to bring social and economic changes both in their communities and throughout the country. That is why I have aimed to create that safe place for the adolescent girls.
Q: What is your hope for the future?
My motto is the quote by the 5th century historian Yeghishe (aka Elishe), who said: “Give me educated and wise mothers; I will give you back an educated and wise community”. I strongly agree with this quote and the steps I am taking are helping me to secure the small changes I can bring to the future generation of Armenia. I believe that with the right support they will be able to build a community of strong, thoughtful, creative young people who are the future of Armenia. Accordingly, I hope that the future holds thousands of beautiful moments, success, and prosperity. Also, I believe that the young generation is the creator of the future that holds limitless abundance.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?
My favorite thing about being Armenian is the fact that each of us carries a lot of strengths and potential, and each of us is the depository of the Armenian identity that we inherited from our ancestors. Our history taught us a lot of things, shaped our mindset and handed down the spirit of the warrior. That is why we feel like a subtle flower that cracks a hard ground to see the sunshine. Each Armenian, big or small, is this subtle flower yearning for the sunshine, for finding its own place in this world. This growing process is not only important for all of us but it is also hard to stop it, no matter how hard the others try. And I feel privileged to be Armenian and have the opportunity to make this growing process somehow easier with the help of my organization.
Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?
Our history, with its adversity, hardship and challenges sculpted my soul, shaped my thoughts, and built my resilience. This is a nation that fell a thousand times, experienced myriads of storms, and felt how others pelted them with pathetic promises. Nonetheless, this nation could always survive and rise with new spirit, new strength, with more pride to continue living and bringing changes. Centuries have passed; generations have changed; however, the approach has never been changed. There is no Armenian generation whose life cycle does not hold a period of misfortune, violated hopes and dreams, tales of broken hearts blackened with disgust, and stories of not worn wedding dresses. Nevertheless, all these generations keep smiling, creating, sharing, and prospering. This resilience is a part of Armenian genes, which is evidenced by William Saroyan’s words: “… For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” We go through a lot of hardship, and we keep smiling, we keep finding new meanings in our lives, we continue setting new goals without hesitation. I would have never been able to think this way if not for being Armenian. The resilience I have was transformed to me through this culture by my ancestors.
I would like to highlight that growth brings pain. And no matter where you come from, who you are, the challenges are for everyone. It matters how you accept and deal with those challenges. Don’t be afraid of them; don’t let those challenges stop you from chasing your dreams. Encourage each other to create opportunities, inspire each other to strive for growth and become the best version of yourself.
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