Who would imagine that a few years after graduation that they would return to teach the same class they were once enrolled in? Fresno State alumnus Hagop Ohanessian did not.
After graduating from Fresno State in Fall 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, Ohanessian completed a master’s degree in History, with an emphasis on Armenian history, in Spring 2014.
Ohanessian has once again returned to Fresno State, this time, to teach a course in the Armenian Studies Program. He is the instructor for Armenian Studies 10-Introduction to Ar-menian Studies, for the Fall 2014 semester.
Ohanessian received a Minor in Armenian Studies as an undergraduate and was also active in the Armenian Students Organization, serving as President. Last semester he was a Graduate Assistant for a history course, where he taught and lead a weekly discussion. Ohanessian had gained some experience in Spring 2014 when he filled in to teach several classes for an Armenian History course.
This semester Ohanessian is teaching a full class in a course that according to the Fresno State catalog, “examines issues of identity, ethnicity, immigration, genocide, and cultural heritage in the United States.” Ohanessian’s goal is to engage the students through group discussions, using visuals such as informational videos and clips, and book readings, to aid him in instruction.
Carissa Alvarez, freshman and criminology major, appreciates the open atmosphere of the class, which allows one’s opinion to be heard. She also thinks that the class is unique because there are both Armenians and non-Armenian students, bringing diversity to the class. Accountancy major and Fresno State junior Joseph Kouchoukian finds Ohanessian’s enthusiasm for teaching very refreshing.
Both Alvarez and Kouchoukian have developed an interest in taking more Armenian Studies courses in the future. For Alvarez, the most interesting subject was the Armenian Genocide. Kouchoukian was fascinated in learning about the Armenians of the Diaspora.
Both students have interesting motivations for enrolling in the course. Alvarez has Armenian friends from whom she was able to learn about the Armenian culture, yet it was not enough. With Armenians being so prominent in the Valley, she found it beneficial to learn about them and their culture.
Kouchoukian’s motivation arose from his great-grandfather, who was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Kouchoukian was unable to learn much about his great-grandfather before his passing, but believes that by taking this class, he will grow closer to his great-grandfather and learn about what he went through.
As he continues to teach, Ohanessian will focus on connecting with the students and helping them “get a grasp of Armenian culture, heritage, and history.” “I want to get students more interested in taking courses, because we have many interesting offerings in Armenian and Armenian Studies.”
For both the students and the instructor, the course is a new adventure of learning about Armenian culture and enjoying what each participant brings to the class.