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Program in International Studies
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Life of Opportunity
Junior Ruben Tsarukyan embraces his local community - no matter where in the world he calls homeby Andrew Jenson
From The Argonaut (12/3/2013) Republished with permission
From one side of the world to Moscow, Ruben Tsarukyan has seen and done much in his 18 years of life.
Currently a junior at the University of Idaho, Tsarukyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1995. Only two years later, his family would migrate to the United States and set up residence in Los Angeles.
“It was just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and there was a war that went on in Armenia. Just, the conditions weren’t so good,” Tsarukyan said. “The United States being the land of opportunity, my parents filed for a green card and we got it.”
The spring semester of 2013 was Tsarukyan’s first semester at UI. Since then, he has become more involved and active in the Moscow community — he currently sits on the Moscow Human Rights Commission and recently attended the National League of Cities 2013 Congress of Cities and Exposition with Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney and city councilmember Tom Lamar.
“This beginning of the semester, I came back to (the) University of Idaho after being home for three months for summer break, and I was just so homesick,” Tsarukyan said. “I just wanted to go back home and, I was like, you know what? In order not to be homesick, to make time go by fast, I have to get involved with something, volunteer, do something.”
This moved Tsarukyan to contact Chaney and seek ways to become more involved in the community. Chaney applauded Tsarukyan’s initiative and determination.
“He is a person of — only 18 years of age — great initiative, he’s terrifically bright and motivated,” Chaney said. “He knows where he wants to go in this world and he’s taking initiative to pursue those interests. So I applaud him for that.”
Tsarukyan lived in California for most of his life. At just 14 years old, Tsarukyan decided he wanted to take his first college course.
“And after I took that first college course, I really liked college,” Tsarukyan said. “I didn’t want to go back to high school because, you know, it’s just a bunch of immature kids. After going from a college course to back to high school, I thought, ‘Why don’t I just start this early?’”
Tsarukyan left public high school in 10th grade and earned his high school diploma via homeschooling. He attended Glendale Community College for a few years before deciding to move on.
“I was 17 years old — I started looking at universities I could attend,” Tsarukyan said. “I wanted to go away from home, live alone, you know, just to experience life, what it’s like to be alone and have responsibilities, and just that transition from being a teenager to being a man.”
In his search, Tsarukyan sought a university that could provide a program to match his love for international politics. He found it in UI’s Martin Institute of International Studies.
“So, I looked into that and I love the program,” Tsarukyan said.
Chaney said Tsarukyan would be a great asset to international delegations, like the one she led to Japan in 2010. Tsarukyan said he is grateful for what he has in the U.S., especially after a visit to Armenia in 2008.
“Going from, you know, Los Angeles to visiting some of these villages where their bathroom is in their backyard, it made me appreciate life so much more. It made me appreciate life and what I had,” Tsarukyan said. “And, the opportunity my parents are providing me for a higher education, a better education, better opportunity in life to get somewhere. I don’t know if I would if I was in Armenia.”
Tsarukyan said he will return to Armenia the summer of 2014 for an internship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tsarukyan said, from his own experience, it is important for UI students to find and take advantage of their opportunities.
“I think it’s really important to tell the students here … know your opportunities and take advantage of it,” Tsarukyan said. “Know the resources and take advantage of it. I’m just, I’m really connected now with the community.”