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Danielle Mikaelian

Columbia University
Columbia College
Bachelors in English
Huys Scholar 2020 (John Aroutiounian Scholarship for Service to Humanity)

Headshot of Huys Scholar Danielle Mikaelian

“Through education to eternity” is a statement that resonates with me greatly. It is quite similar to the last words of my own college admissions essay that secured me admission to Columbia University: “this journey will take me to infinity and beyond.” Three years later, I am still on this journey, but I do believe that it will lead me to eternity. More importantly, I hope it will lead to eternal positive change for others.

Throughout my life, I have come to understand that leadership involves recognizing a need for change and taking action. It relies on innovation, creativity, ethicality, and morality. Most importantly, it means looking beyond yourself and looking at how you can leave a tangible, denotative impact on the communities around you. To be such a leader, an individual must be relentless in their aspirations and driven to maximize their impact.

As an Armenian student at Columbia University in the City of New York, I have expanded my worldview and impacted the communities I care about. As the Columbia Armenian Society President, I have had the privilege of connecting Armenian students on the East Coast while spearheading a variety of cultural and social events. As an English major, I have learned that words are power, as well as catalysts for progress.
After college, I am planning on attending law school to maximize and reinforce the impact of my words. It is essential, as Armenians, that we proudly communicate our history, culture, and goals. This will help us preserve our rich heritage and promote our future visions.

Armenians require more words to be voiced that will contribute to the advancement of our causes. I am planning to contribute to the Armenian community in the following ways:

Spearheading Educational Initiatives. Education creates awareness, which in turn leads to collective action. Unfortunately, in the United States and many other countries, the Armenian Genocide continues to not be taught in schools. Moreover, most history classes do not even mention Armenia’s contributions, or even its status as the first Christian nation. As the Columbia Armenian Society President, I have actively worked to spread awareness amongst my own classmates through dialogue. However, the Armenian diaspora cannot solely rely on its own individuals’ words to raise awareness. Recently, multiple state legislatures passed bills making Armenian Genocide education a mandatory requirement for high schoolers. I want to utilize my words, as well as my future law degree, to act as an advocate for this type of requirement in schools across the nation, as well as in different countries.

Connecting the Diaspora to Each Other. As an Armenian student that has spent time on both coasts, I have noticed a disconnect between Armenians across the country. This problem extends across the world as well; the diaspora as a whole has grown apart and is not provided with enough opportunities to reconnect. As a founding member of ASA United, a group that seeks to bridge this divide, I have been actively working to connect Armenian students across the country and look forward to continuing to do this in the future. On a larger scale, I want to ensure that Armenians across the world are provided with more opportunities to connect, whether this be through the creation of annual retreats or events.

Promoting Armenian Access to Higher Education. I personally was able to secure admission at a competitive university and recognize that the resources, connections, experiences, and exposure one gains from these types of educational opportunities are invaluable. A year ago, I founded Armenian Accepted, a nonprofit initiative that seeks to help Armenian students from around the world with their college applications. In the future, I want to continue helping Armenian high schoolers secure admission to their dream schools by guiding them through the steps of the application process and editing their materials. I have already helped multiple Armenian students with their college admissions journeys and hope to continue to scale this initiative in the future. Recruiting more individuals to help with this initiative will allow the initiative to have a broader reach, as well as a greater impact.

My educational pursuits have taught me how to critically analyze different issues and voice my visions. At the same time, they have allowed me to learn how to spearhead initiatives and lead projects. I know I have the drive and determination to enact positive change for the Armenian community. More importantly, I am excited to manifest these ideas into reality.

I am aware that Huys Foundation is granting the Huys Scholarship to me with the anticipation of my good faith pursuit and implementation of the projects and undertakings described in this letter, to which I hereby commit.

Danielle Mikaelian