The Women of ASGCC Wear Many Hats

Isiah Reyes

Currently hosting an Armenian TV show while performing her duties as president of the
Associated Students of GCC, Lilya Avagyan has many different things in her life to keep balanced and in perspective.

“I live in two completely different worlds,” Avagyan said. “I’m always trying to connect the two.”

Avagyan, who was vice president of campus organizations prior to being elected president, was born in Yerevan, Armenia. She tries to stabilize her responsibility as a TV star and student trustee in the board meetings.

This is her third year in America and has adapted to the American way of life quickly, noting that the school systems here are unlike the ones in Armenia.

“You can never change your major in Armenia, and here it’s really different,” Avagyan said.

The ability to change majors has benefited the president, who recently switched from biology to broadcast journalism. But how could she not originally be a biology major? After all, she comes from a family full of doctors.

“My father is a veterinarian, my mother and grandmother are doctors and my grandfather is a lawyer,” Avagyan said. “So becoming a journalism major was an unexpected thing in my family because I was raised in a family where I need to become a doctor.”

The change to broadcast journalism was not completely unforeseen. Her love for being in the spotlight shined early on. She has been singing since she was six-years-old and dancing since she was seven, working in TV shows and theater alike.

“For more than a year I was working in Armenia TV,” Avagyan said. “I was hosting a variety talk show called “Parenthesis,” interviewing Armenian stars.”

Although back in Armenia she was enrolled in a medical university, she said her family now accepts her new career path in broadcast journalism.

“It surprised them, but they respected my opinion,” Avagyan said.

Tigranuhi Stepanyan, vice president of administration, was senator of administration before being elected to her current position. She has known Avagyan for a long time.

“Lilya [Avagyan] is a very good friend of mine,” Stepanyan said. “She’s one of those people who are always ready to help even if you don’t ask. She’s very friendly, honest, and sincere and she has a good heart.”

The vice president of administration’s job is to prepare minutes and agendas for ASGCC legislative meetings, appoint a student representative to the college’s 31 governance committees along with being responsible for maintaining the GCC constitution.

If the constitution needs a change, a constitution election is held and the entire student body gets to vote on an issue.

Also, the vice president of administration is in charge of inter-organizational duties, such as holding town hall meetings to inform the student body about resources that are available to them.

Stepanyan was born in Gyumri, Armenia, and has adapted to American life quickly as well. She moved here at the age of 14, five years ago.

“I didn’t have a [culture] shock that most immigrants have,” Stepanyan said. “My advantage was that I learned English [in Armenia]. If I go back there, that’s when I might have a shock.”

Aside from carrying out her administration duties, Stepanyan likes to play piano and tennis.

The vice president of finance, Lara Kasian, also appreciates the help of Avagyan.

“She is always supportive,” Kasian said. “If any of us have any problems or anything, we can always go talk to her and she helps us out. She’s always curious into what our day to day jobs are.”

Kasian’s job is to best utilize the $300,000 budget which is collected from student fees. When students pay $12.50, five of those dollars go directly into the ASGCC budget, which is used to start new projects and encourage student involvement.

The finance committee is currently accepting campus project support grant applications to help students, faculty and staff.

Aside from her ASGCC position, Kasian volunteers regularly at Armenian organizations and is involved in the Armenian Student Association as treasurer. The purpose of the association is to hold meetings and activities to encourage Armenian spirit and to teach Armenian culture.

Janet Shamilian, vice president of campus relations, focuses on opening the lines of communication between the associated students legislature and the student body.

“All of us [campus committee] collectively work on the GCC newsletter,” Shamilian said. “We also take care of the ASGCC Web site and manage basic relations between the student government and the student body, informing them of who we are and what we do as a group of students in this organization, and we answer questions that students may have.

“We encourage student activism so they can have school spirit,” Shamilian said.

Shamilian wanted to get involved in student government because of her prior experience in high school. Her current position was granted to her based on a unique situation.

“Everyone [in ASGCC] gets elected, but the girl that was elected as vice president of campus relations resigned because she got accepted to another school,” Shamilian said. This resulted in her being interviewed and filling in for the job.

Lilit Melik-Bakhshyan, vice president of campus activities, makes a monthly calendar and organizes events for students outside of the classroom which benefits the students in different ways, such as holding career days, financial seminars and even live musical performances.

“I plan activities . and I think, is there a purpose in this activity?” Melik-Bakhshyan said. “My goal is to make activities that are not just fun but educational.”

One such event was the barbecue held on Sept. 10 in Plaza Vaquero.

“I’m also the vice president of the reader’s club where we meet every other week and we read a book and then we discuss it,” Melik-Bakhshyan said.

The vice president of campus organizations, Hermine Gevondyan, is in charge of the clubs that are a part of the Inter Organizational Council as well as other new clubs. There are over 50 clubs and organizations that give the opportunity for students to get involved with other students with similar interests.

The council is an open forum where clubs can voice their opinion through representatives.

Gevodyan is the chairperson of the council meetings and her main job is to make sure all the clubs abide by the rules. Her previous position was senator of campus relations.

On the issue of returning to ASGCC next semester, she said, “I’m not sure yet. my heart is into it, but my classes are going to be really difficult and I don’t know if I’m going to have time to do it again.”

President Avagyan compares her major to the others.

“Most of the people who are here are psychology majors, political science and business majors and it is very different to be a business major,” she said. “Student government is very different from my major [journalism] because it is more in politics.”
She described her primary focal point as being president of associated students.

“You’re kind of like a bridge, connecting students to the college committee administration, faculty and staff,” Avagyan said. She does the best she can to make sure the student’s voices are heard.

Avagyan described the college as a mix between high school and a university, which isn’t something she was used to back in Armenia. The diversity in GCC is very different than in Armenia as well.

“It was very exciting and really interesting to meet people with different history and different experiences,” Avagyan said.

However, she still manages to keep in touch with her friends amid her busy work schedule.

“Even though I’m busy, I don’t want to forget them,” Avagyan said.

Her friends realize that she is dedicated in doing the best she can.

“When she’s not doing her associated student work in the student center, she’s always busy trying to advocate for us students,” Kasian said. “I’m really proud of her and the way she balances her work out, and I always see her improving each day.”

“She cares for the organization and she knows all the ins-and-outs of the organization and everything else out on campus,” Stepanyan said. “She’s amazing and we’re very proud of her.”

Avagyan understands that each vice president is majoring in different fields of study and everyone has different job descriptions. However, she said they are all trying to accomplish the same objective.

“Even though all of us have separate goals and separate visions to do different things, we’re all connected to each other and we all work together to accomplish that goal and we make it happen.”

To contact President Avagyan, call (818) 240-1000, ext. 5602 or leave an email at [email protected]