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Alexia Khodanian pursues art and Speech and Debate with a smile

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Senior Alexia Khodanian can often be found talking, drawing, and debating, always with a smile on her face.

She describes her personality as friendly, funny, and free-spirited.

“I’m really outgoing. I feel like when I was younger, a lot of people called me weird because I was really hyper,” she said. “And my temperament has always been, ‘life is a stage, and I’m going to own it’ type of thing.”

“When I came to Foothill, it was really blank slate because I came from a Catholic school. So my entire time at Foothill, it was really just building myself up from scratch. So this entire experience at Foothill has been an ethereal, dream kind of thing,” she added.

People seem to be drawn to her personality. Senior Kylie Becker enjoys Khodanian’s friendliness and sense of humor 

“She’s really sensitive to people’s emotions,” Becker said. 

English and speech teacher Jennifer Kindred admires Khodanian for her “quick wit and her willingness to work hard at anything she decides she wants to do.”

Ethnicity-wise, Khodanian describes herself as Middle Eastern. She was born in the United States, but her parents and other family members are from Armenia. She added that Armenia is a small country and many citizens live outside of Armenia. 

“I grew up in a dual cultural household,” she said. “My brother and I are both first generation American, which is kind of cool because I feel like I have this connection with a lot of people whose parents are immigrants. And like not even immigrants from Canada, my parents are from the Middle East.”

“There’s this really strong bond between my family and I feel like I know every Armenian in southern California, like they all stick together, it’s really cool,” she added . “It feels like one big family.”

Khodanian can also speak Armenian, although does so only occasionally, mostly when she is with grandparents or extended family.


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Khodanian visited the Middle East once when she was younger, and hopes to return someday.

“When I was seven, I went to see my aunts and my cousins when they still lived in Syria. They live here now because they had to evacuate, obviously. But I went with my mom and my brother and we went to Syria and Lebanon and the I think Armenian border,” she said.

Khodanian believes that many people in the U.S. are uninformed about the Middle East – including Armenia.

“I feel like especially here, not a lot of people know about [Armenian culture],” she said. “It’s been weird because whenever I have to do an application for something or I have to fill out a survey, when I get to the section about race, it seems like they have everything but like that one portion of the world.”

 Nevertheless, Khodanian enjoys being a part of the culture and having unique experiences.

 “[People] are always like, ‘what’s the food like? What’s the culture like? What’s the music like?’ and I always try and describe it,” she said. “But it’s kind of like if you take like eastern European and mix it with Greek, and then like the Middle East, and then that’s kind of what Armenian culture is.”

 This culture is especially apparent when the whole family is together.

 “When my family comes together at Christmas time, there’s like traditional food, and traditional music, it’s just like a different atmosphere, and it’s really cool. I like it,” she said.

 Apart from her cultural heritage, Khodanian also enjoys Speech and Debate. She joined the club as a junior and is continuing as a senior.

 Typical events for Khodanian in tournaments are parliamentary debate, the “stereotypical idea” of debate, and impromptu. In the future, she may consider doing interpretation, which she said is “where you memorize a script and it’s more like theater and acting”.

 Although Khodanian finds Speech and Debate difficult, she likes participating.

 “It’s very challenging, but I still enjoy it. And I don’t know how much better at it I’ll get before I graduate, but it’s a lot of fun and I like everyone on the team,” she said.

 Another hobby that Khodanian hopes to seriously pursue is art. Although she does some sketching, most of her work is digital art, made with programs like Photoshop; it often includes cartoons.

 “I personally like drawing characters from TV shows or from books that I really like. So I mostly do fan art, I’ll draw my original characters, but I feel like I get more inspiration from other artists. I enjoy drawing other people’s characters,” she said.

 “I’m especially into animations, like cartoony styles,” she added. “Realism is cool, but it’s never something I’ve just sat down and been like, ‘I want to do realism right now’. I just like doing colorful kind of things.”

 When not creating her own work, Khodanian spends time appreciating other art. She loves visual arts like fashion and film; one movie that she particularly likes for its artistic detail is “Lilo and Stitch.”

 “I’ve always been into movies and analyzing visual things,” she said. “When I watch movies, I pay attention to the stories, but a lot of times I also pay attention to  movement and composition and the colors they use.”

 Khodanian hopes to attend California College of the Arts in San Francisco to further pursue her passion for art. With her degree, she wants to work on animated movies as a career.

 “I’m really interested in working on character designs, and background designs, and concept design, and just working on a group effort sounds really fun and interesting,” she said.

 A career in animation is something that Khodanian plans to pursue for the rest of her life, as she is willing to live where the industry is centered.

 “I guess I’ll probably always live in California because that’s where most of the industry is, but I don’t have a problem with that,” she said with a smile. “I like California.”


Background Photo Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

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Alexia Khodanian pursues art and Speech and Debate with a smile