Heghine Aleksanyan (CTr ‘21): Career Breakthrough in Translation

Heghine Aleksanyan (CTr ‘21) received her Graduate Certificate in Translation from the American University of Armenia (AUA) in 2021. Despite the fact that translation is not her first qualification, Heghine has acquired rich experiences in the field, ultimately leading her to AUA. She has worked at the “Enlight” Public Research Center NGO as the Editor-in Chief; contributed to the Eastern Armenian translation of the Armenian Wonderwomen, co-authored by AUA alumni, Gayane Aghabalyan (BAEC ’20) and Elmira Ayvazyan (BAB ’20); and, most recently, taken on the role of instructor for the “Creativity in Translation” course offered by AUA Open Education to translators in Yeghegnadzor. Upon graduating from AUA, Heghine completed the translation of “Under the Sunset” by Bram Stoker, now available at bookstores in Armenia.

How did your journey at AUA begin?

I began my studies at AUA in 2020, when classes were online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The year continued with the devastating 44-Day War. During this challenging time, our class became like a family. It was the hardest year, but simultaneously one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. Although the Graduate Certificate in Translation is not a master’s degree program, it truly can change everything. It altered the course of my life and career, as I made the decision to become a translator. I know what I am going to do for the rest of my life, regardless of monetary compensation or any obstacles I may encounter along the way. I am grateful to AUA for helping me in this journey.

Why translation? What do you like about this field?

I graduated from Yerevan State University as a public administrator in 2017. I knew then what I definitely didn’t want to do with my life, which was dealing with bureaucracy. Instead, I focused on writing analytical articles and essays in the field of arts and culture. I noticed that there was a big gap in Armenian translation of foreign literature, so I started translating and editing at every opportunity I had. After four years, I finally decided to continue along this path and obtain a certificate in translation. I already had experience as editor-in-chief at “Enlight” Public Research Center NGO, which conducts research and consultations in the fields of education, technology, public policy, economy, and culture. Studying at AUA helped me find my purpose. I decided to become a literary translator, particularly in children’s literature. This was definitely a career breakthrough for me.

You were involved in translating the Eastern Armenian version of the Armenian Wonderwomen. Could you please share your experience?

I heard about the opportunity from Dr. Shushan Avagyan. The authors of the book, Gayane and Elmira, were searching for a translator. We got in touch, and I did some preliminary translations. We started collaborating on the translation of the book, and then I became an editor. This was my first experience translating children’s literature. It was also a unique opportunity to work with co-authors and a great experience overall.

You translated “Under the Sunset” by Bram Stoker. Why did you choose this work?

Anyone studying in the Graduate Certificate in Translation at AUA knows that at the beginning of the classes, Dr. Avagyan asks students to choose a chapter from a book to translate as a final project. I already knew that I was going to focus on children’s literature. I wanted to choose someone who was proficient in writing children’s books but wasn’t well-known. The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, came to mind. I decided to introduce a different side of Bram Stoker to Armenian readers one that existed before the publication of Dracula. I picked one of his earliest works: his first collection of short stories written in 1881 called “Under the Sunset.” I didn’t read the book before translating; instead, I translated as I read it. This was a method I adopted for myself while studying at AUA. It helped me look at the book as a reader, writer, and translator all at the same time. Translating the book became a mission for me. In certain ways, the story was relatable. Reading about the characters’ challenges while going through the hardships of the pandemic and the war myself was comforting. I lost a friend in the 44-Day War, Hakob Hakobyan. He was studying economics at AUA. His sacrifice for our homeland was another reason I wanted to complete the translation. 

Dr. Avagyan played a major role in this journey. Throughout these three years, she has encouraged me to find editors and publishers. The AUA community served as an inspiration for me to keep going. I am thankful for this experience. 

You worked as an instructor for the “Creativity in Translation” course with AUA Open Education for a group of translators in Yeghegnadzor. How did you make the decision to teach?

As the former editor-in-chief at the “Enlight” Public Research Center NGO, I had prior experience in teaching methodology. The theoretical knowledge I gained at AUA offered me additional materials. I felt confident in sharing my knowledge and expertise in this capacity, so I was glad to be involved in such an opportunity. I designed a three-month course and added some experimental methods and exercises for my class. It was a very interesting experience, and I was glad to receive positive feedback from the students. Although classes were online, I was happy with the results. I hope to improve my methodology and apply to similar opportunities in the future.

What are your plans for the future?

As of now, I have set three goals for myself. One is to learn Czech and begin translating Czech literature into Armenian, and vice versa. Second, I have chosen three books and hope to translate at least one of them in the upcoming two years. Lastly, I would love to apply for a master’s degree program to strengthen my knowledge in translation.


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