Student President Lilya Avagyan Bids Farewell

Sara Purington

Yet another term comes to a close for the Associated Students governing body as a new set of student leaders was elected last week.

For current president Lilya Avagyan, it’s the end of a productive year. Through her one-year term, Avagyan has been involved in an array of tasks and activities some of which even caught the eye of the accreditation committee.

“It’s been a pretty interesting year,” said Avagyan. “[As president] you never know what the year will bring. The president doesn’t have a set schedule. You have your own plate.”

Avagyan piled it high on her plate, including the large task of working on the school’s accreditation. Her participation surprised the agency that conducted the accreditation, which led to them to speak highly of student involvement in their report.

The report said that GCC was the only college they had seen at which students are directly involved with the accreditation process and the students actually know what’s going on in their college.

According to the report, the agency was impressed by “the active participation of all members of the college community. The governing board, the superintendent/president, the faculty, the administration, the staff and student leaders participated in numerous committees and dialogues, and take an active interest in the development of college programs, services and initiatives.”

“The committee was very surprised by how involved we were,” said Avagyan.

She also left a good impression on President Dawn Lindsay.

“I have seen tremendous growth in [Avagyan] since she started as the student trustee last fall,” said Lindsay. “Lilya is an advocate for students and has demonstrated her commitment.?She has been a pleasure to work with. I will miss our regularly scheduled meetings, her enthusiastic attitude and her passion.”

Avagyan also had the opportunity to be a part of the interview process for the new president of the college. “It was one of those right moment, right time kind of things,” she said. “I was very fortunate to be a part of it, and I’m very happy about the results. [Dawn] Lindsay always says this school is a jewel and I think she also is a jewel.”

As she sits in her office covered with pictures and balloons and a huge poster filled with happy birthday messages, it’s obvious that Avagyan found a comfortable place as a leader at GCC.

Avagyan grew up in Armenia and moved to America only three years ago, and started at GCC in the spring of 2008.

“English was a big challenge,” she said. “I had to get used to conversation, and I wasn’t familiar with the American culture.”
But nothing stopped her.

“I joined student government to learn more and meet people with different backgrounds,” she said.

Avagyan started out as a senator of campus organizations and then became vice president of campus organizations before being elected as president last year.

“This organization helped me to feel part of this country. I never thought I would adapt but now I feel at home,” said Avagyan. “I encourage everyone to join [ASGCC], whether you’re an ESL student it doesn’t matter. Leadership is up to you. Everyone can change the world. You just have to believe in yourself.”

Avagyan’s real passion is her major: broadcast and television journalism. She started acting in Armenia when she was 6 years old and wanted to pursue a career in television, but coming from a family of doctors she postponed her dreams and went to medical school for two years. After moving to America, Avagyan hosted a popular TV show called “Parenthesis,” on which she interviewed famous Armenian stars.

“I view entertainment and politics as similar. I live in two different worlds and I’m always trying to combine them,” said Avagyan, explaining her combined love for politics and entertainment.

Avagyan has been able to combine these two worlds through many events this year, such as hosting the show “Gateway to Glendale College,” and also hosting a music club production that raised money for a student with cancer.

With Avagyan graduating this year her time at GCC is coming to a sad but successful end.
“I loved my experience at community college,” she said. “It was like a wonderland for me.”

Her next step will be attending film school at Chapman University in Orange County. Then she plans to go to law school and become an entertainment lawyer.

Even though she’s sad to be leaving the place she has called home, she is confident in the new leaders. She had the opportunity to be involved with newly elected president Janet Shamilian who has been the vice president of campus relations this past term.

“She is a wonderful person and is very involved as vice president,” said Avagyan. “The first time I saw her, I can’t explain it, but I knew she was next as president. I’m very happy to leave the organization in her hands. It’s like in a family. I want to leave it to someone who will continue my legacy and I know she will.”
Shamilian is excited about what the future holds for her.

“I’m really, really happy about becoming president,” said Shamilian. “I’ve been observing for the past year. I’m ready to step up to the challenges.”

Shamilian has been working under Avagyan for a year and is ready to take up the torch.
“[Avagyan] is a great president, especially with all the things that she had to deal with this year like accreditation and hiring the new president,” she said. “She works great with administrators and students. She is friendly and diplomatic. I know I have big shoes to fill.”

Avagyan’s legacy is not one which will soon be forgotten. While in office she has fought hard against budget cuts, hosting two rallies on campus, which even received local news coverage. She also went to Sacramento and spoke with Sen. Carol Liu, D-Glendale, as well as other representatives. “We did our best to advocate for students. What will be the future of California without [students]?”

Avagyan has also initiated new activities on campus, such as the campus cleanups and the health and wellness festival. During her term she has been involved in hosting the teacher of the year award, a family night for ASGCC and organizing the academic decathlon, which will happen in the summer.

She is thankful for all the support she has received from administration and advisers. “They are like family, always with us and supporting us. They are real advisors. I’m very thankful for them and the support of administration.”

As president, Avagyan has been going to the college board meetings every three weeks. The June 21 meeting will be her last as she inducts the new president.