Sophia Malkasian ’92 is exploring her roots in Armenia, along with her spiritual and career paths. Malkasian volunteers there for the Heifer Project, a nonevangelical organization fostering sustainable development and teaching young people in the developing world about ecology, democracy, and gender relations.
Heifer Project promotes sustainable community development through gifts of livestock and agriculture to needy families. A family that receives a small flock of poultry shares its first chicks with other local families to start more flocks; those families pass along some of their own chicks. “If you put 10 cows in a community, it eventually has an exponential impact,” says Malkasian.
Malkasian’s original inclination to international development started during a pre-college year in Indonesia and blossomed on a Colorado College program in India. “I still remember vividly the poverty that I encountered. I felt compelled to go into this line of work,” says Malkasian.
That inclination was fostered by Chaplain Bruce Coriell, Assistant Chaplain Ginger Morgan ’86, and the Interfaith Student Group, who created a supportive environment for Malkasian’s spiritual exploration. After graduation, she worked in CC’s development office, where she developed an interest in nonprofits.
Malkasian earned a dual master’s degree at Ohio University in international affairs (focused on Southeast Asian studies) and business administration (focused on corporate social responsibility), then gained international experience by investigating corporate social responsibility in Jakarta.
“I have an undying passion to learn about other cultures,” says Malkasian, “how other people make sense of the world that we live in; how they see themselves in relation to other people, other nations; how they cope with suffering. Those bigger questions fascinate me.” Now in Armenia, she says, “I am fulfilling one of my heart’s desires: returning to the land that my great-grandparents fled during the Armenian genocide.”