by Luiza Vardanyan
After a cup of morning coffee, Tamara Galoyan feels vigorous for another busy weekday. As a Ph.D. student, she spends her day attending classes in the Drexel University, reading, working on projects and meeting deadlines. Tamara also spends her weekdays working part-time as a research assistant at Drexel University. Though she always has a huge workload to manage, she feels happy to live in Philadelphia and do her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies program. In fact, enthusiasm and encouraging people have been Tamara’s inspirations during her career journey.
Gently smiling, Tamara recalls her childhood days. Back then she dreamt of becoming a teacher. While playing games with her friends, little Tamara used to pretend a teacher and assign homework to them. Growing up, she also felt enthusiastic about foreign languages. When she was graduating from school, she
entered Yerevan State Linguistic University after Valery Brusov to major in English and Spanish languages. “You truly need to love what you are doing because that will make you, that will keep you motivated, that will make you persistent, make you persist through difficulties…” says Tamara.
At the age of 17, Tamara transformed her childhood game role into a real job. During her first year in the Linguistic University, Tamara worked as an English language tutor at home and prepared high school students for entrance exams. “I think students who with you work or whom you teach they feel … whether the instructor is motivated, really enjoys what is doing or not,” says Tamara. After some years, she was not solely a student at the Linguistic University but also an English language teacher. This experience, however, was quite challenging for her.
“For me as a teacher, the challenge was to engage my students in the course content and keep them motivated,” says Tamara. According to her, teachers were required to follow specific teaching methods and use specific materials. Nevertheless, Tamara did not limit herself to the assignments. She searched for extra activities to engage her learners in the class.
After some time, Tamara wanted to learn about new teaching methods. She continued her studies in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) graduate program offered at the American University of Armenia (AUA). There, she found her interest in learning technologies, an area one of the TEFL courses covered.
Tamara Galoyan (in the middle) and her classmates during a presentation at AUA
Everything regarding her career seemed to go the way Tamara had planned. She turned her childhood dream into professional practice, teaching already at AUA, Linguistic University and International Academy of Business. Besides teaching English language, Tamara gradually enlarged her teaching areas to TOEFL IBT, IELTS, and Business English. While entering a foreign university to do a Ph.D. was another dream Tamara expected to achieve. Nevertheless, she did not expect that three foreign universities will accept her application for admission.
Drexel University was the one among three universities to provide Tamara a full-scholarship and a research assistant position. “If it was not AUA I highly doubt that I would be able to get into this very competitive program because Ph.D. in the U.S. is very competitive and I think AUA gave me a lot of skills and knowledge and experience,” says Tamara. Tamara’s fiancé and friends, who had been inspiring her throughout her career journey, encouraged her for the new experience.
The first semester of four-year Ph.D. program was the most difficult. Tamara had difficulties adapting to the new community and university. She was alone and did not have any friends. “I was trying to make friends, I was trying to meet people, and at the same time I was trying to understand the educational system here,” remembers Tamara. While Tamara tried to fit in the foreign community, her fiancé encouraged her from Armenia. Over time, she met new friends and professors at Drexel University who helped her feel “like home, cozy and friendly environment” in Tamara’s words. “I feel very thankful to the people that I met on my journey because I think they helped me a lot in directing me and, like, motivating me to learn more and to explore more,” says Tamara.
Presently, Tamara feels much attached to Philadelphia. She enjoys studying and working at Drexel University. On weekends, Tamara and her friends go sightseeing and explore Philadelphia. Upon the return to the International House for students, Tamara sits on her bed, embarks on her assignments and stays up long at night to finish her projects. “Enjoy your work, work hard, and there is nothing impossible,” says Tamara.