Hundreds gather to celebrate AGBU's internship program
Published: Friday August 03, 2012
New York - For twenty five years, the AGBU New York Summer Internship Program (NYSIP) has been creating professional development opportunities and lasting memories, and this weekend's silver jubilee celebrations gave alumni and supporters even more to look back on.
From July 20 to 22, hundreds gathered in the city to reconnect with old friends, learn about new NYSIP initiatives, and honor all who have made the program possible. The highlight event was the gala on July 21, which was attended by AGBU President Berge Setrakian and Mrs. Vera Setrakian; Central Board members M. Michael Ansour, Nazareth Festekjian and Sarkis Jebejian; His Excellency Garen Nazarian, Armenia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Mrs. Nana Nazarian; Very Reverend Father Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, and Reverend Father Mardiros Chevian, Dean of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; and NYSIP Committee Co-Chair Raffi Balian.
The festivities began at a Friday night mixer that gave close to 340 alumni and friends the first opportunity to greet familiar faces. Organized by the AGBU Young Professionals of Greater New York (YPGNY) and held at the popular lounge, Pranna, the event also served as a fundraiser benefitting NYSIP scholarships, which enable deserving students to participate in the program.
The following afternoon, more intimate gatherings were held across Manhattan, as individual NYSIP classes came together for their own mini reunions. Different groups spanning generations met at sites they had frequented during their NYSIP summer to reminisce about discovering the city together and the defining moments that helped them pave their career paths.
On the night of the much-anticipated gala, over 275 guests filled the halls of the downtown venue, Battery Gardens. Against a backdrop of New York City landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Serge Kassardjian, the Chair of the 25th Anniversary Planning Committee and Summer Internship Program Committee member, delivered the welcoming remarks. He thanked all who had travelled from Brazil, Canada, France, Lebanon, South Africa and Switzerland, in addition to several US cities, to take part in the celebration. Himself a former intern from 2000, Kassardjian said, "I know I speak for everyone who has completed or been affiliated with this program when I say it provides a key to a unique Armenian community that is both a professional network and international group of lifelong friends." Kassardjian then introduced Father Odabashian, who spoke on behalf of the Eastern Diocese Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, noting that over the past five years, the Diocese has benefitted from its partnership with AGBU to host the Diocesan interns.
It was the NYSIP alumni, representing nearly half of the attendees, who were full of praise for the event's honorees - all of whom were chosen by the former interns comprising the NYSIP 25th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Their sentiments were echoed by Raffi Balian, Co-Chair of the Summer Internship Program Committee, as he led the subsequent presentation of awards. Mr. Balian stated, "Tonight, we honor three important categories of individuals, who have inspired us through their examples. First, we are grateful to our founders, Rita and Vartkess Balian, who volunteered countless hours and raised significant funds for over 20 years to turn their vision into reality, building a program that has helped over 800 Armenians from around the world to advance in their careers. Second, we are thankful to the Director of Central Board Programs, Anita Anserian, who serves with devotion and dedication as a tireless advocate for the program and our youth. And finally, we recognize the committed individuals who have acted as supervisors for six or more years."
The first awards presenter, 2006 alumna Ella Baroyan, acknowledged the ten supervisors who have given scores of students both the skills and the confidence to start their careers, namely: Gregory Amerkanian (Merrill Lynch senior vice president), Anna Bruno (AXA Advisors financial consultant), Ted Candella (Merrill Lynch senior financial advisor), Yervant Demirjian (Interaudi Bank managing director), Dr. James Giglio (Columbia University Medical Center emergency room associate clinical professor), Dr. Edgar Housepian (Columbia University Medical Center former professor of Neurological Surgery), Movses Hovsepian (New York University Langone Medical Center pharmacy supervisor), Chris Parnagian (O'Hare Parnagian LLP attorney), Patrick Sarkissian (SarkissianMason founder/CEO), and Emmanuel Tchividjian (Ruder Finn ethics officer). Reflecting upon the honor, Mr. Candella commented, "AGBU has been a special relationship for me. I am proud to be a part of an organization that puts so much time, effort, energy and financial resources behind their leaders of tomorrow. I have mentored many hard working, intelligent, dedicated students from AGBU that I consider to be of the highest caliber, and I only wish I had the same opportunity to be a part of a program like this when I was in school."
Following the supervisors' awards ceremony, a special tribute was paid to Anita Anserian, the AGBU Director of Central Board Programs, for her numerous years of dedication not only to NYSIP but to all of the organization's youth initiatives. Presenter Melania Melikian (NYSIP 2008) applauded Mrs. Anserian's continuous and passionate championing of AGBU's younger constituents, acting as a strong role model for all youth. Taking the podium, Mrs. Anserian explained that NYSIP has always been a labor of love, and that she takes great pleasure from meeting the new interns year after year, and forming a special bond with every one. Addressing all NYSIP participants, she stated, "Each year, I wait anxiously for June to come so that I can meet that summer's interns. You should know how much I enjoy getting to know each of you throughout the program. It gives me immense pride to see you grow as individuals by the end of each session, and to continue to watch you prosper and give back to AGBU in the years that follow."