By Lily Adamyan
About the life, passions, and encouragements of a simultaneous interpreter, a teacher of various English and Math courses, a former choir conducting champion, and a Mom of three sons.
Born and raised in the US, seven years old Niery moved to Yerevan with her family as missionaries in 1991. She studied music for ten years, then did Masters in Business (MBA) and Teaching English (TEFL) at AUA. Currently, she teaches general English, TOEFL, Business English, medical English and oral speech at her private language school named GRACE+Ful Learning. Considering the progressive educational approach as her teaching doctrine, Niery shares her acknowledgments of the two significant differences between the “Soviet-style” and “western-style” institutions; first of them is regarding asking questions and the second is the assessment.
“In the traditional approach to education like the one in Conservatory, there were stupid questions, questions that you can ask and others could laugh at you,” Bardakjian explains, “In Aua, in progressive or Western approaches, we did not see these wrong answers, there was no stupid question.” Also, as she remarks, AUA used assessment “as a tool to help students learn and not to evaluate.” Of course, assessment includes evaluation but it is different from checking your knowledge with a red pen, she says.
After the ten years of musical studies in Conservatory (where Niery did two masters and a Ph.D. in choir conducting), she quit music because of financial issues and, in 2011, entered AUA to pursue her first masters in Business. She happily tells about the created atmosphere which brought each graduate student to the same level regardless of their backgrounds. “My friends would help me, teachers were staying for office hours,” Niery begins, “also, I would like to mention Dr. Alexanyan’s name who gave hours and hours to support me after classes.” It wasn’t about accounting at all, Bardakjian asserts elaborating on Dr. Alexanyan’s lectures. “He helped me overcome the feelings of inferiority, guilt, and feeling stupid which eventually inspired me to start teaching Math as well.” For Niery, it is a calling to everyone that anyone can be good at Math.
After MBA graduation, although Bardakjian was offered many highly-paid jobs in Business, the field could not fulfill her professional aspirations. The unusual working schedule and the radical change of the sphere, as she claims, shifted her carrier preference to the one she had been practicing since childhood. She had been interpreting and teaching English since she was fifteen, and although many institutions would hire her without a diploma, some of them (especially governmental) required a professional degree. This requirement drove Niery to come back to AUA for her second Masters in TEFL. “Now my job is interpreting which is a freelancing job,” she begins, “teaching is my passion, I am surrounded by selected students from whom I learn so much, I am just blessed to teach them.”
Considering her years of studies at AUA as “highly satisfying,” she comes up with several recommendations towards the university’s further progress. “I wish there were courses truly adapted to the Armenian environment,” she begins on her first point, “I wish I had learned what kind of license I need to have as a teacher, or whether and how do I have to pay in taxes,” which, as she remarks, would provoke country’s economic development. She continues touching upon the quality control in hiring the faculty. From her studies at AUA, she remembers “truly exceptional” and “extremely average” professors, which, as she claims, was unacceptable. Lastly, she expresses her desire to have stronger academic links with the university. “I wish ACDO department (which by the way does great with their activity in career development outside the university) will also focus on the collegial opportunities between alumni and AUA,” Niery states.
She concluded by giving several pieces of advice to current students and alumni of AUA planning their careers in Armenia:
- There are no jobs for average students and average professionals. There are jobs only for the best. And “the best” doesn’t mean better than others; be the best version of yourself, that’s what it means.
- Show integrity towards your country, towards you bosses, towards your colleagues, and towards yourself.
- Don’t prefer the money and don’t measure job opportunity with the salary. Do internships, volunteering, help others as much as you can.
- And wherever you go, love and respect your peers and your leaders. Once again, you reap what you sow.