Hayk Khemchyan, 29, grew up a pacifist. “War is awful and it should never occur,” he said.

He was just three years old when, while staying at his grandmother’s house in the village of Ditavan, which sits on the border with Azerbaijan, heavy gunfire erupted nearby.

“I remember my granny carrying me to the barn to protect me. My first thought at that moment was that when I grew up, I would be someone who would prevent wars or violent clashes,” said Hayk, now an aspiring diplomat.

For the past 10 years, he has worked at building a career in Armenian foreign policy. Currently, Hayk works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he’s achieved his present rank of Second Secretary.

“I started reading very early, and the first book that grabbed my attention was the Children’s Bible. It had a nice purple cover with a picture of a newborn baby Jesus on it and big, striking letters. I would take the book to my mom and ask her to spell the letters; this is how I started learning to read,” he explained.

A prodigy, Hayk was just 14 years old when he entered Yerevan State University’s Department of International Relations in 2003. His single mother, Marine, applied for FAR’s Mathevosian Scholarship which enabled him to afford the tuition. In 2011, he also took a course in Public Policy and Administration at the Fletcher School at Tufts.

Ten years in diplomacy is a short period to judge one’s achievements, said Hayk, who believes diplomats need time and a wide range of skills to succeed. “Discipline, cross-cultural awareness, language, and negotiation and leadership skills are must-have abilities for diplomats,” he noted.

Hayk said he wants youth to relentlessly work toward achieving their dreams and to keep their eyes open to opportunities.

Hayk, you make all of us at FAR very proud.