From an early age Lion Karapet, now 21, used to take apart computers and re-assemble them alongside his father. “I’ve become interested in computers since childhood; I used to read about them, explore and do tests on my own,” he said.
In 2017 Lion was able to start his studies in information technologies at The European University in Yerevan. In 2018, he received assistance from FAR’s Syrian-Armenian Scholarship Program which will enable him finish his degree.
He is now a junior in college but in 2019 he started working part-time at PicsArt as a Quality Insurance Engineer.
“If not for FAR’s Scholarship, which allowed me to continue my studies, I would have never been able to work at PicsArt, and many young people dream of working there. FAR helped me acquire the knowledge and I put it into practice at PicsArt,” he stated. He has since landed his current job as Senior Quality Insurance Manager at the software development company VOLO.
FAR’s Syrian-Armenian Scholarship, which is supported by FAR Board Member Sandra Shahinian, was established in 2015 to support Syrian-Armenian students to access university educations and better their futures. About 170 students from disadvantaged families have received the scholarship, which covers partial tuition, since it was launched. Thirty-seven students were awarded the scholarship in 2020.
Lion’s family is one of the first official refugee families to have come to Armenia from Syria at the beginning of the war in 2011.
One of the first shocks the family faced upon landing in Armenia was the language barrier. “Everyone spoke Armenian but it was mixed with Russian words so we could hardly keep up. We would constantly ask things to be repeated over and over again,” said Lion, who now fluently speaks Eastern Armenian.
His father, Mila, used to work different jobs to feed the family, while his mother, Ani, took care of his sister, Alis, 20, and younger brother, Gevorq, 10. “Gevorq was only eight months old when we left our house in Aleppo. We drove to Turkey, then to Georgia, and finally Armenia. I don’t remember much, as I was very little, but I still recollect the alarming danger that we went through on the road from Syria to Turkey,” Lion said.
Upon graduation, Lion hopes to establish his own IT company through which he plans to develop applications to help people with different daily tasks, such as paying their utility bills. “Through my start-up, I will aim to find solutions—special programs or apps that will help to make peoples’ lives easier.”