The first thing that must be said about California State University, Northridge alumna Armine Tadevosyan ’15 (Theatre) is she is electric. Her energy, smile and positivity should be measured in voltage.
The next is that she is fearless. The words “no,” “can’t” and “won’t” are not in her vocabulary. It’s as if there’s a bungee cord attached to her, and every day is an opportunity to take an eager leap into the unknown.
Tadevosyan, 24, recently did a very maverick thing for her alma mater — but something that seemed natural to her. The first-generation college graduate from a modest background — her father being an air-conditioning technician and her mother being a stay-at-home mom — donated $500 to The Arts Council for CSUN. The Arts Council will use that money as a scholarship for a future student.
As a student, Tadevosyan received a $1,000 scholarship from the council. The money relieved a lot of pressure while she worked, held down an internship and went to class, she said. She was determined to give back when she graduated.
“I got really inspired by the people who helped me out,” Tadevosyan said. “The school committee — the people in that group — chose me. It was, ‘I know you believed in me.’”
Tadevosyan graduated from Glendale High School and admits that college wasn’t her next thought. She took six months off to figure out what she wanted to do in life, but eventually enrolled at Glendale Community College to earn general education credits and find her way.
While at the community college, her former dance instructor asked if she would help with backstage coordination of a performance at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.
It was at that performance that Tadevosyan saw her future. She peeked into the inner workings of a large-scale production and knew she wanted to be part of that world.
“I thought, ‘What do I do to sign up for this?’” she said.
During the production, someone noticed that not all the dancers had parking validations. Tadevosyan said she would try to get more, and she boldly went to the theater’s production manager.
“He looks at me like, ‘Who are you?’” she recalled.
And the conversation continued.
“OK, I’ll give you parking validation, but we’re going to charge the promoter.” He said.
“That’s fine,” Tadevosyan responded.
The conversation continued on the way to his office and with the parking validations, he also handed her a business card. He suggested she interview for an internship at the Theater.
Months later, she did. The interview lasted seven minutes, she said, and didn’t go particularly well. Tadevosyan didn’t get the internship.
One year later, however, she returned.
“The girl that was in the last interview [who was also in the first interview] said, ‘Oh, you’re back,’” Tadevosyan said. “I said, ‘Of course.’”
The interview lasted 20 minutes, and she got the internship.
Tadevosyan started her first internship with AEG — the entertainment giant and developer of L.A. Live — in the summer of 2013 as a production intern for Microsoft Theater. A few months later, she started her first semester at CSUN. As soon as the internship ended, she started another with Staples Center.
During that subsequent internship, she had a school assignment to interview someone who worked outside of her own department. She shot for the top: L.A. Live, Staples Center and Microsoft Theater President Lee Zeidman — as it turned out, a CSUN alumnus.
“I knew where his door was. I figured I’d just knock on his door and ask him, ‘Can you help me with this?’” she said. “He asked, ‘What school are you going to?’ and I said, ‘Oh, I go to CSUN.’ He said, ‘I graduated from CSUN.’
“I said, ‘Oh really? You don’t say!’” she recalled. “’That’s incredible. Go Matadors!’”
That’s the kind of person she is — fearless, said CSUN theatre professor Matthew Jackson, who Tadevosyan calls her mentor.
Jackson recalled their first one-on-one meeting and said Tadevosyan asked how she could get more involved in the department.
“I told her, ‘We start someone as an assistant stage manager, then maybe they can become stage manager and house manager,’” Jackson recalled. “She looked at me right in the eyes and said, ‘Great. I’ll do all that.’”
And she did.
Her charisma, charm and refusal to shy away from responsibility and challenge — all Jackson’s words — leads him to believe that she will be successful in anything she does after CSUN.
“[Those qualities] impressed a lot of people at CSUN and in the professional world,” Jackson said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of her education. As a professor you meet a few students in your time that stand out and say this person’s going places. That’s definitely Armine.”
After she graduated from CSUN, she took a job as guest services coordinator at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Earlier this month, she took the afternoon off to return to CSUN. Tadevosyan was a guest speaker at the annual President’s Donor Appreciation Luncheon, and the youngest donor in the room. She said she felt slightly intimidated when she got up to the podium. Then, she told her story.
“I’ve been inspired by so many people like you, and the generosity you show,” she said. “You inspired me to give back to my department and to future students like me. Donors like you believed in me. You helped put me on the path to success. I will always be grateful for everything I’ve been able to accomplish here at CSUN. Thank you for being my behind-the-scenes rock stars.”
When she finished her speech, she looked down and tucked the piece of paper from which she was reading into a folder. Then, she looked back up.
“People were standing,” she said.
After the luncheon, she gathered her things to leave and saw a line of people waiting to talk to her. They were so inspired by her story and what she had done.
Tadevosyan said she’s not sure what her dream job will be, but she wants to work in theater production.
She also has her sights set higher in life. Tadevosyan’s gift to the Arts Council is called the Armine Tadevosyan Award and will help another student like her.
Tadevosyan moved to the United States from Armenia at 8 years old and is the first in her family to earn a college degree. She said she wants to continue to give so that she creates a legacy. Maybe one day, she said with a joyous laugh, she’ll have a theater named after her on campus.
“I’m not going to forget about CSUN,” she said. “I’m not going to forget about the school because I know how much impact I can make at this school.”