- Stories of Alumni
Miqayel Simonyan (Armenia, UWCD’16) is our first generation alumnus. Upon the closure of his college campus in the US due to COVID-19, Miqayel returned to Armenia and launched a fashion startup - “Mischa”, in his birth city Ijevan.
Miqayel Simonyan (Armenia,UWCD’16) is a first generation alumnus from the city of Ijevan. After graduating from UWCD, Miqayel continued his education at Luther College in Iowa. For someone who grew up in rural Armenia, Miqayel never would have thought that studying abroad would be a possibility for him. However, having an IB background, the university experience was much easier, especially through developing a skill of critical thinking.
“Getting accepted at UWCD and receiving a full scholarship was a turning point in my life. At first, the academic life was quite challenging, since I came to UWCD as a self-taught, non-native English speaker. However, I always trusted the choice of my national committee, who believed in my potential to succeed. Being a first-generation student was amazing. There were a few of us and we received maximum individual attention from professors and the staff, which was pleasant.
Through UWCD I made lifelong friends and also met people who inspire me to this day. I do believe in the school’s mission, perhaps not as romantically as the statement sounds, but I really hope to be able to provide a scholarship for an Armenian student with a disability or a student from the provinces!” says Miqayel.
Upon the closure of his university campus in the US due to COVID-19, Miqayel returned to Armenia with a single suitcase and launched a fashion startup in his birth city Ijevan. In February of 2020, Miqayel presented his first collection to the public. After the outbreak of a global pandemic, his business has taken a toll as most events were being cancelled.
“Giving up is never an option for me, so I bought a single home sewing machine instead, and turned my room into a small atelier. A designer is a designer, be it in Paris or Ijevan: my calling is to create. So, Mischa Aphrodisiac was born. Mischa is my name and Aphrodisiac is the name of my first collection. Both have a long and complex story. Simultaneously, I run the whole production by myself and as a recent college graduate, I have all the time in the world to be self-employed and do what I love while awaiting an optimal opportunity to expand the brand,” shares Miqayel.
As the war started in Armenia back in September of 2020, Miqayel designed a brooch called “Tavush Green” inspired by the mountains of his birth region. During the war all proceeds of the brooch were donated as aid to the victims of the conflict. Although as a newly launched brand without any external investments such an act was challenging, yet important to show solidarity in challenging times. In Miqayel’s words “fashion does not exist in a vacuum and it was important to showcase this through my work.“
Mikayel’s advice to new and prospective students is to not stress too much and choose subjects that you will enjoy studying. “It is a unique opportunity and a challenge for transformation and growth”, says Miqayel.