ARPI AMIRIAN, PRESIDENT OF THE GLENDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, arrived in Los Angeles from Iran in the summer of 1998 as a young mother; pregnant, with a two-year-old in hand and only $400 in the world. Harder still, she couldn’t speak English.
“I had such high hopes for my new life in America,” she says with one of her easy smiles. “But not knowing English was the thing I was most afraid of.” With support from relatives, the Amirian family quickly assimilated and soon Arpi was attending ESL classes on GCC’s Garfield campus.
“Daniel Venier, my English teacher, was an inspiration to me,” says Amirian. “I was new to this country, did not know the language, and was not familiar with the culture. Professor Venier helped me to overcome my fear of using the new language.”
Amirian credits Venier for her hard-fought accomplishments as a student. “Because of him I am a successful person today,” she continues. Amirian graduated from Woodbury University in August with a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership.
Amirian worked and raised a family, but academics were a constant in her life as well. She soon went from being a non-credit student to enrolling at the main campus in the fall of 1999. She found employment, first as a student worker, then as a classified employee, earned her Associate’s Degree in 2003, and transferred to CSUN in 2009 to complete her bachelor’s degree in marketing. Then she came back to GCC. “Marketing gave me the best opportunity to contribute something to the Alumni Association,” she said. “I wanted to do something besides just working here.”
Her second major inspiration is Linda Serra, former Business Division Chair. “Her knowledge, experience, and humble personality inspired me to take her as my role model, achieve my goals, and become the person who I am today; she helped me become an independent woman,” says Amirian. “I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for her and to do supplemental instruction – I did a lot of tutoring. It made me want to be a teacher as well.”
“When I graduated in 2003, I was looking for a campus job and there was nothing available. Linda said, ‘Arpi, you’re ready to fly’ – and really, I was. Amirian took a job at Lotus Communications as an administrative assistant; then worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles for three years. She now is a part-time faculty member in the business division and her contribution to the Alumni Association is blossoming.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last two years,” says Amirian. “Our main goal is to bring the community and alumni together and we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from the Foundation. We’ve updated the website
and have a Facebook
page.” She encourages other alumni to “Come back and share your success with us. Inspire new students.” Please share your story with us