Narek Galstyan is an exceedingly polite 19-year-old TUMO alum who is soft-spoken, humble and motivated. Born and raised in the Arax village of Echmiadzin, Narek just made a sizeable move across the world. You see, Narek will be studying computer science at Princeton University.
Narek’s interest in programming partly began because it was something he could teach himself using limited resources. Then in 2012, Narek started coming to TUMO where he gained access to the very resources that let him expand on what he had taught himself. “Programming is important to me because I believe it is going to become a universal language, much like English, and everyone will need to know it.”
In order for Narek to attend TUMO, he had to commute 1.5 hours each way, but that didn’t deter him. In fact, it only motivated him further. “I realized I was spending a lot of energy to come to TUMO and that made me value the time I spent there even more. For the two hours I was there each week, I worked as hard as I could to learn as much as I could.”
From there, he was accepted into the United World College of the Adriatic and moved to Italy for two years. While he was there he continued exploring his love for programming and kept his ties with TUMO, participating in workshops at the center when he was in town. He also started a robotics club at the UWC based off of what he learned at TUMO. The two years he spent at the UWC was interesting for him, to say the least. “It was a fascinating time for me, beyond just the academic. Among other things, my experience there redefined what borders meant. For me, a border is a very definite line, a closed thing. In Italy, the border with Slovenia was made with just white rocks with a road going through it. It was a little jarring.”
While at the UWC, he applied to a number of colleges abroad. And didn’t get in anywhere. “When I didn’t get accepted the first time, I returned to Armenia and actually considered myself a failure. I eventually got a job with the Four Guys startup and spent a year in Armenia before applying again. Looking back on it, I don’t consider that time a waste at all because I learned so many things.”
What inspired Narek to apply again, only to get accepted into Princeton University (and UC Berkeley for that matter)? “My parents always encouraged a love of learning within me from the very start. But it was also my time at TUMO that showed me what was possible through education. The people I met here, the coaches, the workshop leaders and even the upper management helped me every step of the way.”
Narek only just embarked on his four year adventure at Princeton, but his goal is to eventually work in the programming sphere in Armenia. “We have huge intellectual potential here. In reality, a lot of that potential is being spent helping create things abroad. Why not create it here?”