It takes a special kind of talent to segue – seamlessly — from working Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the Balkans to profiling Hunter McGrady, Sports Illustrated’s “curviest model ever” as editor-in-chief of Entertainment Scoop, an online celebrity news/ lifestyle content site.
But Gigi Manukyan, a Woodbury University Political Science graduate (’19) from the College of Liberal Arts, pulled it off with aplomb, as she does in most things. Gigi calls the transition from genocide studies to conducting red carpet interviews “a bit weird,” but it’s consistent with a curiosity and a versatility that has characterized her academic career – and now, her pursuits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After graduation last year, Gigi went to Bosnia-Herzegovina for three months to intern at the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC) in Sarajevo, an NGO that seeks to foster an enabling environment for sustainable peace and encourage the restoration of inter-ethnic relationships there. She credits Woodbury with enabling her to curate her classes which, she says, contributed immensely to preparation for her internship.
“Where do I begin to describe what led me to Bosnia? There were many reasons,” she says. “I’ve always had an interest in understanding genocide, in part due to my own ancestors surviving the Armenian Genocide. The disintegration of Yugoslavia as a whole and the unique tripartite government in Bosnia also sparked my curiosity. So when an internship came along that encompassed my interests in the country, I took it as a sign—and it was the best time of my life.”
“PCRC was an internship like no other,” Gigi continues. “I worked with organizations, including the UN, the World Bank, and other local NGOs, focusing on an anti-smoking campaign, Klima Bez Dima. I was also responsible for writing Balkan Diksurs Articles, the PCRC online platform, translating and transcribing documents, writing meeting summaries, and handling project development, as well as researching youth unemployment post-conflict and war-time sexual violence.”
Because part of her degree focused on genocide denial, she decided to document denial and memorialization throughout Republika Srpska. “I wanted to interview local youth on what they had been taught about the 1992-1995 war, their thoughts on current Bosnian politics, and their everyday life in the post-war transitional Bosnian political sphere,” she says. Now, both the long-term group research project and companion documentary are on hold.
More recently, she joined Entertainment Scoop, an online celebrity news outlet, as editor-in-chief and primary travel content writer. “I saw a listing on LinkedIn and took my shot,” she says. During the pandemic, however, she has opted to temporarily step back from the company to focus on studying for the LSAT and working on one project that remains front-burner.
“I’ve been spending the quarantine writing Three Generations Gather Around a Table, a book focusing on Armenian traditions while growing up in a three-generation household,” Gigi explains. “I have put no effort into trying to get published, but it is definitely something I want to pursue this year as well.”