Professionals Reach out to Mentor Students at Fordham Networking Forum


NEW YORK — The classrooms of the Fordham University School of Business were filled to capacity as the eighth annual Mentoring and Networking Forum welcomed over 150 participants on Friday, March 23.

Co-chaired by the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (New York-New Jersey) and the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization and sponsored by the Armenian Bar Association, Armenian International Women’s Association (NJ Affiliate) and Armenian Network of America (Greater NY region), the overflowing crowd consisted of professionals and high school and college students, who were welcomed by Vahan Tanal, P.E., founding member of the AESA-NY-NJ.

The Planning Committee of the 8th Annual Mentoring & Networking Forum

“We have expanded from only a handful of students eight years ago into this large crowd,” said Tanal, who co-chaired the event. “Some of you were mentored as students and now serve as mentors.”

Co-Chair Dr. Garbis Baydar of the Armenian Health Professionals Organization welcomed and thanked all the organizers and sponsors while providing inspirational words to the evening’s mentees, encouraging them to “make good use of this evening.”

“Our main intention is to help you achieve your goals,” said Baydar. “You should have dreams and goals and work hard to achieve them because successful people are the ones who work the hardest.”

The forum covered a range of career tracks, including engineering, health, finance, law, real estate, sciences and the arts, with participating mentors who would be available year-round for advice and guidance.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

New board member Samuel Armen, a teacher and writer, served as a mentor during the evening and in his remarks noted that events like the forum “are about empowering one another and giving purpose and significance to the lives we lead.”

Vahan Tanal, PE, welcomes everyone to the event.

During the three-hour event, professionals remained in their allotted stations as students approached them about their fields and careers, seeking knowledge and asking questions about their work experiences.

“The importance of the annual Mentoring Forum to the Armenian community is indisputable,” said mentor, engineer and AESA NY-NJ President, Allen Berber. “Giving this opportunity to students to meet directly with professionals does not occur very often, and opens their eyes to what possibilities are out there.”

Indeed, studies have shown that young professionals aren’t receiving the coaching and mentoring needed for them to thrive in their work environments. It’s through positive and effective events such as the mentoring forum that a clear path of study and support can open up to students.

“I met with many accomplished Armenians and engineering mentors and learned a lot about the profession,” said student Sevag Mkhitarian. “I appreciate that the mentors want to help the younger generations, develop connections and initiate their transition from high school or college into finding jobs.”

Echoing similar sentiments, student Natalie Vandian said the forum was “very helpful” and gave her the chance to learn more about the business field and ultimately helped her decide to enroll in business classes.

Students were encouraged to speak to experienced leaders in the field to gain more insight and make connections, which was also beneficial to the mentors, such as Lori Takooshian-Dondiego. A professional in the Finance and IT field, Takooshian-Dondiego advised students on how to apply for internship positions and after meeting with a finance student offered him a summer internship at her company.

“Not only was each mentee curious to learn from the mentors, but the mentors each were eager to help in any way they could,” said Anoush Baghdassarian, a student at Claremont McKenna College who attended the forum for the first time. “It made the event a truly special one and brought the Armenian community of NY and NJ even closer.”

Meeting and connecting with professionals in the greater New York City area on a local level helped create the foundations for a long-term mentor and mentee relationship, where both the students and mentors can widen their professional and personal networks. By creating a mentoring culture, the AESA-NY-NJ contributes on a professional level to the Armenian community, which drew the attention of the sponsoring organizations.

“Time and again we have seen the need among attending Mentees, largely left unfilled by today’s academia, become abundantly and capably filled to capacity and beyond by the eager Mentors,” said attorney and mentor Denise G. Darmanian of the Armenian Bar Association. “It is an honor and a privilege for the Armenian Bar Association to participate as a co-sponsor in this visionary initiative that opens the doors of higher learning to our Armenian youth.”

Host Harold Takooshian, professor of psychology and urban studies at Fordham University, who has been involved in the forums since its founding, remarked on the success of the event, which symbolized a greater meaning.

“There was an attempt to eradicate our ancestors in 1915,” said Takooshian. “But take a look at this room today.” As a thank you to the organizers and sponsors of the event, Takooshian presented each group with official certificates from Fordham University.

Following the event, mentors and mentees gathered at the Library Bar to socialize and continue their conversations.


Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: