How two diasporans are changing gender expectations through science and sports
A Good Will Ambassador helps break the mold
In 2017, Dr. Yervant Zorian became the first Goodwill Ambassador for AGBU BRIDGE4CSOs program for Technovation Armenia Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit. The national contest challenges thousands of schoolgirls worldwide to innovate mobile app ideas that offer sustainable solutions to problems in their communities.
A member of the AGBU Central Board, Dr. Zorian is Chief Architect at Synopsys headquartered in Northern California. He is also the president of Synopsis Armenia. An avid supporter of innovative education and engagement of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), he led Armenia’s One Step Ahead team of five girls, aged 5-15, from Karbi secondary school in Aragatsotn province. The team submitted a bilingual Armenian Sign Language app and became one of the 12 finalists selected out of 3,000 teams.
They went on to win the People’s Choice Award for which they won $10,000 USD to improve the app. As the finalist in the education category, the team traveled to Silicon Valley to attend the World Pitch Summit and Awards Ceremony held at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.
“Even though the contribution of women has always been important in Armenia’s technology sector, achieving such global recognition in the competition—a combination of state-of-the-art technology and entrepreneurship is extremely inspiring, said Dr. Zorian. As a goodwill ambassador, he will continue supporting the local Technovation initiative.
A mentor promotes gender equality
David Dikranian, a licensed soccer coach with over 20 years of experience comes from a long line of Armenian-American players and coaches. While serving as head coach of the varsity girls’ soccer team at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Connecticut, he found the time to travel to Armenia to help promote gender equality and youth empowerment as part of the Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer (GOALS) program, which has already helped empower 380 young women in 21 rural communities through sports while changing perceptions about female athletes. Dikranian described his experience coaching them as “something I will never forget.”
As an alumnus of AGBU Summer Internship Program, he was inspired to continue contributing to Armenian causes. “Thanks to AGBU’s Together4Armenia and BRIDGE program, I was connected to GOALS,” explained Dikranian, “which was the perfect opportunity for me to volunteer as a coach and make a difference in Armenia.” (His full story was originally featured in the April 2018 issue of AGBU’s The Insider.)