AAMS 2020 Scholarship Winners

Vaneh Hovsepian is a PhD candidate at the Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON). Vaneh’s long-term professional goal is to gain expertise in improving the quality of care of older adults with dementia in the primary care setting as a nurse scientist. Her interest in improving the quality of care for older adults developed at a young age. Growing up in Iran, she recognized that many older adults, especially religious and racial minorities, like her grandparents, did not have access to high-quality of care. Also, many older adults with dementia do not have access to timely and high-quality health care services in other countries such as the United States and Armenia. Vaneh’s objective is to find ways through her research to address the needs of the dementia population in the primary care setting in the US and Armenia. Vaneh also mentors young Armenians to accomplish their professional goals both in the US and in Armenia through the Youth Empowerment and Sustainability Armenia program


Yeraz Kochkarian is currently a fourth-year optometry student at Western University of Health Sciences. During her time in school, she has taken on several leadership positions in her field including vice president of her class and president of the vision therapy club (COVD). Her proudest accomplishment has been teaching STEM-based classes during a summer program hosted by the Hidden Road Initiative in the remote village of Shvanidzor, Armenia. As a future optometrist of the Armenian diaspora, Yeraz looks forward to serving the Armenian communities locally and abroad through educational ventures and humanitarian outreach.



Christina Mehranbod is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Using geospatial techniques and social epidemiologic research of the built environment, she is interested in examining how the places individuals frequent over time and various environmental characteristics influence health outcomes. Christina completed her MPH in Epidemiology with a Certificate in Comparative Effectiveness Outcomes Research at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Prior to earning her MPH, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. She aims to serve her community at the intersection of Armenian issues, epidemiology, data science, and public health overall.


Rita Shehirian is in her second year of medical school at the University of Michigan Medical School. Rita was born and raised in San Diego, California. Although she is yet undecided about her medical specialization following graduation, she strives to serve underserved and underrepresented populations as an academic physician, likely either as an emergency medicine physician or as a surgeon. Her research prioritizes health equity and she is currently working on a project to set up family planning education and clinics for women in Armenia who lack control over their reproductive health.