After graduating from Kellenberg Memorial in 2010, Anie Jamgochian studied at Cabrini College and graduated magna cum laude in 2014. She then earned acceptance to both Harvard and Yale Divinity schools. However, she turned down the Ivy League graduate school offers and chose instead to complete a year-long service trip volunteering with Rostro de Cristo at a women’s shelter in Ecuador. She has since earned her Master of Theological Studies degree from Boston College and is volunteering with Birthright Armenia, an international nonprofit organization.
What was the biggest influence on your faith-life while here at Kellenberg which helped you to listen to and trust in God’s unique plan for you?
I will never forget the peace I found at Kellenberg. I remember sitting in my religion courses thinking “this all makes so much sense.” I quickly became enchanted by the love of my God who I was learning about through biblical stories and especially through my morality classes.
My experience at Kellenberg began a deep and ever-enriching conversation and connection of heart and mind. Cliché, but true. As a result, I began to listen more closely to discern who God was shaping me to be. I followed where I felt God calling with the small things, which would help me navigate life’s more paramount decisions in the near future.
In the meantime, I was encouraged to share my story with my teachers, who listened with patience and compassion. They taught me that my story matters – all of our stories matter and I can choose to be a part of lifting up those which are forgotten or cast aside. Little by little I felt God calling me to love, in any and every way imaginable. I felt God calling me to know the story of my neighbor, my brothers and sisters, wherever in the world they may be. I learned that God could take the dreams I had and assist me in building them into something even more beautiful. It is my journey at Kellenberg that gave me the courage to listen, the courage to speak up, the courage to take the leap of faith against all odds and most of all, the courage to love.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from your service to others?
The most important lesson I have learned from my service to others, which also happens to be the most important lesson I have learned in my life, is this: Love knows no boundaries.
I had heard a phrase like this often, usually pertaining to the kind of love God has for all of humankind and Creation. However, I learned it differently when I saw it with my own eyes from strangers. I’m talking about strangers who I not only shared many cultural differences with, but strangers who I could not even speak to. There was no sharing of who I am or learning who they were. And yet there was love. I can’t describe this feeling when you realize you are loved without condition.
Needless to say, these were encounters where I felt God’s presence most. I learned that love is without rhyme or reason. It doesn’t come after I can prove you are a relatable, kind, clean, sane, healthy, -insert other conditions here- person. Love happens when I look into your eyes and see you as a human being, as God’s Creation, as Christ. Maybe we would be great friends. Maybe we wouldn’t get along at all. But none of that matters to love. Love just is. Without any conditions. Without any preparation or answer or reason or expectation of love in return. Love is without boundary or hesitation. Maybe it sounds crazy, or extremely difficult, but what I found is we are all capable of this love. We need only the courage to take down our walls and forget all the conditions we think love requires, and simply love.
Do you have any advice for the current students at Kellenberg Memorial?
Current Kellenberg Students! My advice to you is to invest in yourself. It is the perfect time to explore your passions and get to know yourself. Engage your interests, join that club you’re curious about or start a new one! Visit your teachers and ask questions. Trust that you are supported every step of the way, you need only ask. You have an entire community surrounding you, rooting for you, which won’t always find throughout your life. So share yourself with this community! Take advantage; let them get to know you. Let them encourage and support you as you continue learning about yourself and the world around you. Invest in yourself. You are worth it.
Who was your favorite teacher at Kellenberg Memorial, and why?
This is a difficult one to answer, as I felt many of my teachers during my 7 years of attending Kellenberg were not only superb teachers, but also great mentors. I enjoyed sharing conversations many of my teachers after school, and often went back to my Latin School hallway to visit teachers I no longer saw in my day-to-day high school shuffle.
There is one teacher I will mention with whom I always felt a positive and calm presence from. She always brought such joy into the classroom. I can’t remember a day she didn’t wear a smile. As a result, I sought her after school from time to time, and enjoyed sharing conversations with her. Eventually, I began to seek her guidance too. I found such kindness, empathy, understanding and patience in her accompaniment. At a time where I most needed a mentor as I grew into young adulthood and life’s challenges grew just a little more difficult, Mrs. Marconi reassured me, encouraged me, and always asked important questions, which later prompted good self-reflection and self-confidence. I found her to be both an engaging teacher who brought life to her classes and openly shared much of herself with her students, as well as a compassionate mentor who spent time to really get to know me. I think of Mrs. Marconi often in gratitude for her peaceful accompaniment and companionship throughout my life and I try to remember to send her snail mail from time to time. Thank you Mrs. Marconi!