Luther sophomore Simonyan interns at Bridge of Hope in Ijevan, Armenia.

November 22, 2017

Drawing from his interests in public speaking and advocacy for disability rights, Luther sophomore Mikayel Simonyan of Tavush, Armenia, spent the summer as an intern at Bridge of Hope in Ijevan, Armenia.

Simonyan, son of Levon and Ruzanna, attended the United World College-Dilijan before coming to Luther. He plans to graduate in spring 2020 with a psychology major.

Bridge of Hope is a non-governmental organization that seeks the inclusion of children with disabilities in education, the public sphere and the economy. Observing an occupational therapist, Simonyan had the opportunity to work with children who have cognitive and developmental disorders including mutism, Down syndrome and autism.

Much of the position requires cooperation with educators to ensure children’s integration into social and academic life to their maximum abilities and Simonyan grew to appreciate teachers’ dedication to providing equal learning opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. “Working with a child who perceives the world differently is not as hard as changing the attitude of the outside world towards the child,” said Simonyan.

Studying psychology at Luther sparked Simonyan’s interest in occupational therapy, but his internship has inspired him to advocate for inclusivity through public speech. Helping others discover potential has aided Simonyan in finding his vocation as well.

Approximately 10 percent of Luther students take an internship for academic credit each academic year. The Luther College Career Center assists students with their internship search through resume preparation, networking, online internship searches, career fairs, on-campus interviewing, and connecting the student to alumni through the college’s Alumni Internship Program. Students also meet with a faculty adviser prior to the internship to create an internship learning plan that includes learning goals and assessment benchmarks. An internship work supervisor assists in the process by writing an evaluation of the student at the end of the internship. Students also complete a self-reflection form to help finalize the learning experience.

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