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QSI Yerevan - Katya Hovnanian-Alexanian

Katerina (Katya) Hovnanian-Alexanian will graduate from QSI Yerevan in June 2021.  She plans to attend Princeton University.

During her high school, years Katya was actively involved in a wide range of academic and athletic clubs at school and founded her own NGO in Armenia to better connect student organizations in local schools.  Her organization raised money for supplies both for the Port of Beirut disaster in the summer of 2020, and the War in Artsakh in the Fall of 2020.

Q. I know you applied to many universities and were accepted to most that you applied to.  Which university have you decided to attend?

A. I will attend Princeton University.

Q. I have heard of Princeton, and I understand Princeton is a pretty good university.  Why did you choose Princeton over other universities?

A. [Laughs] I chose Princeton because it is close to home.  I have some family in New Jersey.  But Princeton also has excellent International Studies programs including Eastern European Studies which I am very interested in.

Q. You have talked about studying international relations for some time.  Why has that subject always held your interest?

A. I am from a diverse family.  Both my parents are Armenian but from very different backgrounds.  My mother came from the US with a more western outlook. I grew up with Armenians from very different backgrounds.  International relations is also key for the future as we saw the need for the ability to solve disputes to avoid conflicts like the war in 2020.

Q. Your dual identity is something that you have talked about a lot.  And at an international school such as this, there are many students (and many adults) with dual or multiple identities based on their backgrounds.  Some students embrace it but some really struggle with it.  What do you think…is it a blessing or a curse for most students?

A. I think it is a blessing, but it can be hard sometimes.  Different identities give you different perspectives, different ideas.  Plus, I think you can have more things to be proud of.  I can be proud to be an American and proud of my family there and proud to be an Armenian.

Q. You also have talked about your struggles growing up or feeling like an outsider.  

A. Yes I think growing up was difficult, especially in Armenian schools.  I was treated like an outsider or an outcast because I seemed to be different.  It was hard to fit in sometimes.  Just the idea that things could be looked at from different perspectives sometimes got me into trouble.

However, I still think that being different – having multiple backgrounds – is a gift.  Some people really struggle with looking at things differently.  If you are born with them already, or have them growing up, it will be a part of you.

Q. You were a regular participant in MUN and earned multiple “outstanding delegate” awards.  What advice would you give somebody who may be interested in MUN or any extracurricular activity but is perhaps not sure or hesitant?

A. I think students should give everything a try.  Of course, it is important to stick with what you are passionate about.  I enjoyed MUN because I am passionate about international relations.  But if I didn’t try it at the beginning, I never would have known!

Q. Obviously, this has been a trying year.  On top of the pandemic, Armenians had to fight a war in the Fall of 2020.  Many things are unresolved, and I recognize it is very emotional.  However, I would be interested to know about how this last year has impacted your internationally minded outlook. 

A. My family had many connections.  We have family in Artsakh and as you know, we hosted refugees during the conflict.  When the war started…I was working on college essays as you know.  One of the ideas I was thinking about was “is war ever justified?”  I have answered that question differently many times.  There is a lot of inner turmoil.  As an American I sometimes feel betrayed by my country.  However, as a student who is interested in international relations I want to learn the diplomatic and international perspective as well.  I do know that my family is “black listed” from ever visiting the homes that we lost in Artsakh and that can be very hard.

Q. Thank you Katya.  I recognize that with the serious issues the world – and Armenia – are facing it can feel strange to then turn around and ask you to think about your high school years, but I am curious to know what you think your legacy will be at QSI Yerevan?

A. I think that I can be thought about as somebody who showed that it is good to think differently about things and to give things a try.   I enjoyed MUN, but I also played basketball one year and was active in other activities inside and outside of school.  I think that students can really embrace the opportunities that they have here.

QSI certainly opened many new perspectives and ideas.  I was supported in my ideas and my plans.  Teachers pushed me to do better but in a positive way.  I know that my time in QSI shaped me to be the student I am.

Thank you Katya for your time and we wish you all the best.