Derenik Dumanyan wearing a graduation cap and sunglasses.
A recent political science graduate, Derenik Dumanyan received an Osher Foundation Endowed Scholarship in 2022, which helped cover costs for rent, books and transportation while he was a UCI student. Courtesy of Derenik Dumanyan

Halfway across the world from his birthplace, Derenik Dumanyan found a home at UCI.

Born in Yerevan, Armenia, he moved to the U.S. at the age of 16 to further his education and pursue a career in the States. Dumanyan stayed with his uncle in Louisiana and finished high school, then moved to Los Angeles a year later and reunited with the rest of his family. After attending Glendale Community College for three years, he transferred to UCI as a political science major in the fall of 2021.

“It was a really great experience. Irvine is my favorite campus,” Dumanyan says, noting that UCI was not only his top choice for a four-year university but also the first to accept him. “I thought this was it.”

After meeting other students and familiarizing himself with the campus, he got involved with organizations such as the Armenian Students Association. Furthermore, being at UCI benefited Dumanyan’s language and social skills ­– two barriers he had to overcome after moving to the U.S.

“I was able to grow and become more comfortable around other people with the help of UCI,” he says.

Still, there were new obstacles. Dumanyan had to live completely alone for the first time, and he was staying in a place far from campus without roommates to help cover expenses. Seeking aid, he applied for the Osher Foundation Endowed Scholarship and won it in December of 2022; the $5,000 went toward rent, books and transportation.

“It helped me a lot in [my] journey,” Dumanyan says.

In addition to being a political science major, he sought out enriching multicultural experiences at UCI. One of his favorites was hosting Armenian Culture Day, when he and other members of the Armenian Students Association shared their food and music with other Anteaters. Dumanyan also fondly recalls a class on Indian culture, history and immigration.

“I saw myself in them,” he says.

Dumanyan graduated this June and is now studying for the Law School Admission Test. Inspired by the lawyer who helped him when he was in a car accident shortly after arriving in the U.S., he hopes to practice personal injury law.

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