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Florida Armenians Adds New Contributors in Boca Raton, Tampa, Orlando

FLArm New Contributors

BOCA RATON, FL – Florida Armenians is pleased to announce the addition of three new contributors: Mireille Samra in Boca Raton, Suren Oganessian in Tampa, and Elina Azaryan in Orlando. “The addition of Mireille, Suren, and Elina is a testament to the growing readership of FLARMENIANS.COM,” stated Editor-in-Chief Taniel S. Koushakjian. “These talented individuals are a great addition to our team and I know the entire Florida Armenians family is looking forward to reading their columns, as I am, in the weeks and months ahead,” Koushakjian said.

Mireille Samra
FLArmenians Boca Raton Reporter

Mireille Samra is a native of Boca Raton, FL and has been active in the Armenian American community since a young age. A life-time member of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Samra is the former Chair of the St. David Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYOA). She is a graduate of Spanish River High School and is currently a sophomore at Lynn University where she majors in Criminal Justice. Since 2017, she has worked as a student ambassador for Lynn University. Samra just returned from Washington, DC as a participant in the Armenian Assembly of America’s Terjenian-Thomas 2018 Summer Internship Program where she worked on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

Suren Oganessian
FLArmenians Tampa/St. Petersburg Reporter

Suren Oganessian was born in Concord, California, and developed a passion for writing at an early age. By the time he graduated High School he already had several unpublished short stories and comics under his belt, and he would continue writing throughout his college years. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Human Communications from California State University Monterey Bay in 2011, he went on to receive a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Fresno State University in 2014. While there, he honed his skills writing for the local Armenian community newspaper Hye Sharzhoom, and began writing and work-shopping what would become his Master’s thesis and debut novel, ‘Odinochka: Armenian Tales from the Gulag.’ Upon completing his Master’s degree he volunteered in Armenia via Birthright Armenia, teaching Creative Writing at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan and teaching English at the NGO Center and American Corners in Vanadzor. Upon his return to the United States he chose to focus on his lifelong dream of becoming a published novelist. He currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he may be sighted roaming about downtown wearing fancy hats and suits and looking totally overdressed for Florida.

Elina Azaryan
FLArmenians Orlando Reporter

Elina Azaryan has close to twenty years of experience in international business and finance. She has a passion for writing and is an avid traveler. Elina spent her childhood years in Europe. She moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL in 2000, and since 2009 she has called Central Florida home. She received an MBA from Florida Metropolitan University with a concentration in accounting, and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Florida. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, reading and writing, and staying current in world affairs.

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An Unforgettable Summer

Mireille Samra (center right) with Armenian American interns on Capitol Hill

By Mireille Samra
Special Guest Contributor

After packing my five very heavy suit cases, I felt prepared to enter my direct flight to Washington D.C. Why might a South Florida native fly to Washington D.C. other then touring all the national monuments and museums? The simplest answer is to learn. My name is Mireille Samra and I am currently enrolled in the Armenian Assembly of America’s Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program in Washington, D.C. Through the internship with the Assembly, I was placed on Capitol Hill, in the Office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Armenian Caucus in Congress.

President of Armenia, Armen Sargsyan with Mireille Samra at the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, D.C.

As an intern with the Armenian Assembly this summer, I have gained several new professional and personal connections. I was able to meet the President of Armenia twice in one day, along with the honorable First Lady of Armenia, on their first official visit to the U.S. So far, the 2018 class of Assembly interns have met with several community, political, and industry leaders. Early on, we met with the Director of the Armenian National Institute (ANI), Dr. Ruben Adalian. ANI provides historical information concerning the Armenian Genocide. In addition, the Assembly program provides us with direct meetings with elected officials, such as Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Bilirakis, and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), to name a few.

Armenian Assembly interns talking with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) in his Capitol Hill office.

Currently, I have only been in D.C. for about one month. In that short amount of time, I have been learning things I could have never expected to learn, from how the metro (subway) system works, and the fact that finding parking in Washington, D.C. is like winning the lottery! Growing up, I’ve been known for always taking opportunities and not thinking much about them. Truthfully, this internship has taught me a lot. A typical workweek is Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 6:00pm, most days. Working on Capitol Hill, the people you meet are endless. Just last week I was giving a tour of the Capitol when the Queen of Jordan Rania Al-Abdullah walked by a few feet away from me! Something that keeps the internship on the Hill very interesting is that no two days are ever the same. For any Armenian American that is passionate about working hard in a big city and learning, the summer internship with the Armenian Assembly of America is a must before graduating.

Mireille Samra is a resident of Boca Raton, Florida and an active member of the South Florida Armenian American community. She graduated from Spanish River High School and currently studies Criminal Justice at Lynn University in Boca Raton.