Raquel Parseghian devotes her spare time to Generation Next where, as a board member and former mentor, she has helped provide valuable guidance and friendship to Armenian adolescents. The long-time Glendale, California resident is motivated to give back to her community which she says instilled in her a charitable sense of giving. Parseghian currently works at a law firm and hopes to pursue a degree in law.
If it had not been for my teachers at AGBU Pasadena, I would have missed many opportunities. They encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things that I normally would not have considered…
What is Generation Next? Generation Next is a networking and mentorship program for adolescents between 11 and 17. It is very similar to a big brother/big sister program. The students are paired with a mentor who provides guidance involving both life decisions and school. I previously mentored three students whom I am close with to this day. These are adolescents who did not come from disadvantaged families, but are still in need of some form of guidance. It could be the case that their parents work a lot or that they do not have any siblings. As the students grow over the course of several years they will continue to spend valuable time with their mentors who will hopefully shape their future for the better
What prompted you to become involved in the program? I enjoy community outreach work and am a part of numerous committees in my spare time. I also enjoy seeking out new experiences in general. For example, I organized an annual Thanksgiving drive where together with a number of my friends, we hand out food that had been donated to us to homeless people throughout L.A. This drive started out with just a few friends and I, but has since grown to a larger annual event with several other volunteers.
How would you describe the Armenian community in Glendale, California where you grew up? You know the feeling you get when you eat comfort food? That same feeling encapsulates the Armenian community in Glendale. There is a very large Armenian community here, which is known as ‘Little Armenia.’ You can go to the market down the street and you will notice most of the workers are Armenian, the customers are Armenian, you hear the Armenian language spoken everywhere, and the shops are playing Armenian music. It is so comforting and makes you feel like you are part of something bigger. It is a very cozy and safe area. My entire family is here. I am very family-oriented therefore I could not see myself living anywhere where they are not. At the same time being born in Los Angeles and growing up here I never felt as though I had a sheltered upbringing. My parents always encouraged us to branch out and meet as many people as possible.
How did you first become involved with AGBU and how did that experience shape your perspective and influence your goals? I have been a part of AGBU all my life. I was the first registered student at the AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena at a time when the school didn’t even have a principal and there were only 45 students. I am still close to my teachers. One in particular is my Armenian language teacher, whom without her I think I would have been very lost. She instilled a love for Armenia in me which alone has helped me make a lot of decisions. For example, two years ago I traveled to Armenia where I worked for more than a month helping to build schools and orphanages. I truly believe if it were not for the teachers that I had in high school, I would have missed many opportunities. They encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do things that I normally would not have considered while keeping me in a comfortable setting. My AGBU education has shaped me immensely.
In addition to working with Generation Next, what are your future plans? I also work at a law firm and I am in the process of applying to law school. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and initially considered working as a marriage and family therapist, but recently decided a legal career would be better suited to me—a decision my parents were quite relieved and pleased to hear! I am particularly interested in the field of entertainment law. I have taken the LSAT, and the next step right now involves waiting to hear back from a number of law schools to which I have applied.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco