(This is the third of the series Inspiring Armenian Young Adults, which highlights the accomplishments of a few of some of Armenia’s brightest, bravest, young adults. Their brief profiles showcase the talents of Armenia’s upcoming generation and shed light on the impressive work they have accomplished thus far.)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Meet Natalie Muradyan. Natalie is currently in her third year of studies at MIT, majoring in computer science and engineering. Born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia, Muradyan, now 20, is a graduate of the famous “PhysMath School,” a top tier public school in Armenia which has an intense focus on STEM subjects, and has produced many students who go on to incredible success both in Armenia and abroad. Natalie, of course, is a great example of this; she not only participated but medaled in several international math Olympiads, competing against top students from all over the world. And since then, Natalie’s passion and success in STEM has grown even further.
In 2019, Muradyan applied to and was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), making history as one of the few from Armenia, and an even smaller number of women from Armenia to study there. Despite being thousands of miles away, Natalie has kept the bond with Armenia strong. Muradyan is currently president of the MIT Armenian Society (MITAS) and an active member of the MIT community, whether it’s hosting events on campus to bring together Armenians and non-Armenians or shedding light on the Artsakh war last year through an op-ed published in MIT’s The Tech newspaper.
But Natalie’s commitment to the Armenian cause didn’t stop there. This past summer, on her own initiative, Muradyan began teaching math courses to students in Armenia despite having a full time internship in the U.S.
“After the war I was thinking ‘How can I contribute to my country despite being so far from it?,’ and I said ‘Hey, I’m kind of good at math, maybe I can teach kids?’.” The popularity of the course was enormous, with hundreds of girls applying to join. Muradyan chose to make her class specifically for girls because “[i]t can be discouraging for girls to participate in math because of stereotypes that boys are better than them… sometimes they won’t even engage because of that.” The structure of the course was meant to be interactive, with students getting homework in advance and then reviewing the solutions, concepts and questions over zoom with Natalie. For students who could not join live, the recordings were also provided, making it even easier to participate.
Beyond teaching math, Natalie used the lessons to inspire those girls by telling them stories of her journey and encouraging them to partake in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) despite any preconceptions. “It doesn’t matter if my students won’t become Olympic medalists and don’t go into STEM, for me it was a pleasure to meet them and help them realize sometimes you can do something for your own joy and out of intellectual curiosity.” Moreover, her connection with the girls, and the bond of the girls amongst themselves, is an incredible byproduct of the lessons. Muradyan was happy to have united students and provide a network they can use to work together again in the future if they choose. Though for now Muradyan does not have concrete plans to do another summer camp, it is certain this is only the beginning of her important contributions to the homeland.