Meet Tamar Asatryan, EdD: Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives at FIELD 

Tamar Asatryan has worked in various positions in FIELD leadership for the past eight years, and now heads up the organization’s Strategic Initiatives. After receiving her Doctorate in Education from California State University-Fresno, Tamar brought her academic knowledge and teaching experience to FIELD, where she has made a difference in the lives of its students.  

Before she came to FIELD, she worked as an adjunct professor at different universities and colleges and helped create online educational programs at a private university. Tamar spoke with us about her work on behalf of FIELD. 

Tell us how you ended up at FIELD and what you do at the organization. 

I was teaching at California State University of Bakersfield in 2015, when a previous colleague of mine contacted me and asked me to join FIELD to assist him. As someone who immigrated to the United States at the age of 12, I was intrigued by FIELD right away because of its mission to provide opportunities to immigrants and others who didn’t speak English.   

I decided that FIELD and I were the right fit for each other and began my employment here that year. Since then, I have worn many hats at the organization, which has given me the opportunity to learn a great deal about its work to help its students. I have been a high school teacher here, a regional manager, the Director of Admissions and Records, the Assistant to the CEO, the Chief Technology Officer, the Director of CTE, and now, I am the Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives. 

What is a typical day like for you at FIELD? 

A big part of my job is working with colleges that have instructional service agreements (ISAs) with FIELD. We currently have ISAs with College of the Siskiyous, Bakersfield College, and Victor Valley College. I also devote considerable time to FIELD’s grant-writing efforts to help secure funding for our many exciting programs. I have also recently started working with our CEO on the development of the cooperative businesses that we want to offer to our students. 

Can you tell us a little more about the cooperative? 

FIELD’s founder, Cesar Chavez, had a vision for worker co-ops where employees could live in a world where they don’t need to rely on an employer. Instead, the workers would own the company and what they produce.  

FIELD is moving forward with that vision. I had the pleasure of joining our CEO, David Villarino Gonzales, and COO, Nora Dominguez, Ed.D., on a trip in May to Spain to study and learn from successful co-ops. We visited the Mondragon Corporation, which is a federation of worker cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain.  

We went there to learn more about how co-ops work in real life, so that we could bring that knowledge back to California to help develop FIELD’s very own co-op. We toured Mondragon’s culinary institute and one of its agricultural co-ops while we were there. It was especially inspiring to see that so many people in the town were part of the co-op. 

Ultimately, the trip was a great learning experience, allowing us a first-hand look at successful cooperatives.  

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

I love seeing the positive impact that we have on students. The tools that we provide, like language skills, are of immense benefit to them. By learning English, they are gaining a greater ability to work and function effectively on a day-to-day basis in the U.S. 

What is the most challenging part of the job?  

Honestly, I don’t like to take no for an answer. And when your job is to make real change in society, there are so many obstacles that pop up to try to stop that progress. These challenges motivate me to innovate and do what it takes to help individuals. FIELD’s motto, “Si Se Puede,” is having a spirit of courage, confidence and risk-taking to serve others which helps us turn challenges into opportunities.  

What is a success that makes you especially proud? 

It would be the founding of FIELD’s Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) program. I helped write the first grant for CTE in 2017 and have watched the program flourish ever since. It is a grant through our EPIC de Cesar Chavez High School that allows students the opportunity to learn the theory side and get hands-on experience in the different pathways that we have which include Early Childhood Education, Natural Resources/Fire Fighting, Solar, and others.  One of the best aspects of the CTE program is that students learn a trade, which means they can use their new skills immediately.  

All of us at FIELD are looking forward to the addition of dorms at the CTE center at Union, as well as the construction of a full kitchen that will be used for an exciting new Culinary Pathway for our students. Once completed, our Ag Farm would supply the produce for those in the Culinary Pathway.  

FIELD offers the CTE program to all of its students, which includes those in our EPIC High School, ESL program, and the Cesar Chavez Environmental Corps.