A Chat with Meri Makhmuryan

In November 2022, the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CCID) welcomed a new Program Coordinator, Meri Makhmuryan, to join the staff. On the second floor of the Center for Student Services, the CCID serves to “provide education, advocacy and allyship to foster an inclusive campus community across individuals from all student, postdoctoral scholar, faculty, and staff groups.”

Meri Makhmuryan

What drew you into working at Caltech?

I applied for the CCID because I was interested in the center’s role, and as a student I was part of something similar. At Glendale Community College, I was part of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, which helps minority students to succeed in college and provides services like extended tutoring sessions and book vouchers. While attending UCLA, I joined an Advanced Academic Program which let me to join a small tutoring group for a course I was struggling in. Without these two programs, I wouldn’t be so successful. That’s why I am here to pay it forward and do something for the students, because I believe centers like this affect our academic journey.

Why Caltech?

I’m more of a soft and social scientist, but I really respect Caltech’s work and innovations. I’m also very interested in space and Caltech’s work with JPL and NASA. I think the resources and help professors provide to students at Caltech is really important because many Caltech graduates are successful because of what they learned here. It gave all the skills and education and built the foundation for success after graduation.

What are your goals for your time here?

To create a brave and safe space for students. We have informative events with knowledgeable people who provide lots of useful information. While I’m here, I want to see more students come and actually use and take advantage of these resources. Whether they come to the CCID and learn something or join our affinity or processing spaces and talk about current events. I think that would benefit the student and provide them an opportunity to build a network with other students, faculty and staff. I want to incentivize more programs so that people can come to us and feel that they belong here at Caltech. We are lucky and honored to have everyone here.

What events do you have in mind?

The biggest event I have in mind right now is for Pi Day, hosting a 3-hour window where students, staff and faculty can drop by for fun activities, a drawing. trivia and pies. The activities are to cheer students up because it’s close to finals. We’re also going to give away stress toys to show students that we’re there for them.

What are your next steps?

For now, I see myself staying at Caltech because of the opportunities to speak to different people and learn their perspectives and knowledge. For example, sometimes I’m having conversations about interests like African politics and it cheers me up knowing there are other people at Caltech with the same interests. I learn a lot from other people about their experience and traditions, and it amazes me because these are people I wouldn’t be able to meet on a day to day basis. I want to accomplish more because of all the new perspectives and knowledge.

I also want to use feedback from the Caltech community to host more events like affinity spaces. Or share information about important events like Black Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month, or a social media post about Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of the other projects I’m working on is creating a digital education campaign for Armenian Genocide Day; I’m Armenian and this way I can pass on the knowledge I have and learned. As an Armenian, I’m very proud I’m able to provide this information and knowledge to others.

Is there anything else you want to share with the Caltech community?

My main duties are to implement, support and develop different trainings and workshops and events, as well as activities, for the whole Caltech community; students, faculty, staff members are all welcome. Other things would be coordinating communication with speakers, the Caltech community, or the CCID so the event goes smoothly. As I said, I’m doing digital education campaigns and social media posts.

Overall, I want students to know that I am here to provide ongoing support and be a liaison between them, the center and the Caltech community. Anyone is welcome to stop by the office or email me. It’s very important for me to make it known that I’m a resource for everyone. They can stop by and talk about the things they are ambitious about. I’m more than happy to share my own personal and academic journey, what I’ve learned, my ambitions and passions and get to know people.