Eric Haynes/Courier Nune Garipian holds banner for Yale University upon her acceptance for Fall 2017 in front of the R building at Pasadena City College on July 4, 2017.
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It was late Wednesday afternoon in early May at the Office of Student Life, where outgoing Student Trustee and political science major Nune Garipian was wrapping up work. She was about to head out to not only finish homework, but to pay her enrollment fee to register for the University of Southern California.

She wasn’t waiting on any other school except Yale University, who doesn’t focus on transfers. Yale accepts only 30 out of 1,000 transfers each year, 3-4 of them being from community college, so Garipian was set on being a Trojan. Before she left, she refreshed her email one last time that changed her transfer plans entirely.

“Welcome to Yale College!”

When her sister graduated from California State University Northridge with a degree in business management in 2016, Garipian thought she’d be following the same path of going straight to a university after high school, balancing education and work, and living at home.

“While my sister took the traditional route, I was the first person to attend community college in my family, the first person to join student government, and now, the first person to go to an Ivy League, which means I’ll be the first one moving out, too,” Garipian said. “A lot of first’s. But my family’s been supportive about it all.”

Originally, Garipian was going to spend five years studying architecture at Woodbury University in Burbank. Unsure that architecture was the field for her, Garipian registered at PCC and randomly chose to pursue an associate’s in business marketing. From there, she hoped that sometime between August 2015 and June 2017, she’d find  an academic niche she could confidently pursue.

In academics, Garipian explored and succeeded with maintaining a competitive GPA, with several classes at the honors level. Her favorite class was African American Literature with English professor Michelle Banks, admiring her presentation and appreciating being exposed to a new culture. Garipian’s research papers were selected to be presented in research conferences such as the Western Psychological Association Conference and the Borders of Diversity Conference.

“Her presentation at the Borders of Diversity Conference last year was excellent. I had her in English 1A and African American Literature, and she is a very hard-working and smart student,” Banks said. “Most especially, she is an outstanding writer that showed in both those classes. It’s no surprise to me she got into Yale.”

Along with her heavy coursework load, Garipian was involved with many clubs and organizations, but found herself most involved with two Associated Students (AS) committees: lobby committee and publicity committee. Outside of school, she was an intern for the local assemblyman of the Glendale and Burbank areas, Mike Gatto, and was later promoted to a part-time employee.

As more opportunities were offered to Garipian at PCC, the more determined she felt with pursuing a major and career in political science.

“I started the internship [with Mike Gatto] when I graduated high school, so I already felt out of place being an architecture major interning for Mike Gatto, but it was there where I got a new perspective and saw the potential in politics” Garipian said.

Her promotion pushed her to reach for more, as Garipian was elected for Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 school year. Serving as the liaison between students and the Board of Trustees, Garipian wanted to make sure student’s voices were represented while advocating to promote a sense of local community at PCC through community service.

From the Board, Garipian most looks up to Trustee Linda Wah, admiring how much she goes out of the way to do considerate acts of kindness for people before they ask, or even when they don’t ask, such as immediately forwarding Garipian any emails regarding volunteer opportunities.

“That’s the type of person I want to be,” Garipian said.

For Trustee Wah, Garipian is already succeeding in her intentions.

“When things were new, she handled all tasks well. She always gave good input in both AS, Board and legislative meetings,” Trustee Wah said of Garipian’s leadership.”At this year’s joint meeting with AS and the Board, Nune introduced me to a group of students interested in being Trustee who she’s been mentoring. She was paving a pathway for potential student trustees on how her role works, which is the responsibility anyone in leadership is always obligated to do.”

Though USC was Garipian’s first choice, Garipian started an application to Yale, with no intentions in submitting it, insisting “there was no point” and that none of her test scores were close to being “perfect.” That was, until, she was inspired by former PCC and current Yale student Ryan Liu at a Common Application workshop hosted by the Transfer Center last January.

Since being the first Lancer to transfer to Yale, many have been asking Liu if there’s been some secret to transferring to an Ivy League school, but he addresses that there is none.

“[Focus] on finding a passion that they’re interested in, setting short-term goals for success, and building sustainable work habits to reach those goals,” Liu advises.“If a student does that correctly, then accomplishments will follow.”

Liu will be Garipian’s transfer counselor as she pursues a bachelor’s degree in political science at Yale University. His biggest goal at Yale was to see another Lancer become a Yalie too, as he first found it strange being on a campus where there was no one else he could talk to who could relate to the exact experiences he had. He’s ready to welcome Garipian to the political science program at Yale, as one of its largest and most-resourced departments.

“[When I first met Nune,] we chatted about her transfer plans and I was impressed by how focused she seemed on her future and I knew that she’d be going places!” Liu said. “I think Nune is going to enjoy being able to focus on whatever subfield in political science she’s interested in and the small class sizes of seminars, that can range on average from 5-18 students.”

Grateful for the overwhelming support she’s received from the AS, the Board, peers, friends and family for being the second Lancer turned Yalie, Garipian will be an be an advocate for the potential and success of community colleges, still centering her goal of making an impact on a community through volunteering and acts of service.

“Just because I got into Yale, that doesn’t make me different from any other person on campus who has that same motivation and initiative as I did,” Garipian said. “I’ve never been one of those people who do things just for myself, and I never will be. I’ll be only in Yale for two years unless I’m offered any good opportunities there, but this is still my community. I’ll always end up back here.”

This story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly stated that the Common Application Workshop was hosted by the Associated Students. 

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