Student Honors her Former Probation Officer in Award-Winning and Heartwarming Essay

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For Immediate Release
July 16, 2018

Contact: Kerri Webb, (562) 315-3388


Award winner with dignitaries
Honoring student Odelea at the May 15 Los Angeles County Board of Education meeting are (from left) Chief Probation Officer Terri McDonald, Probation Officer Azat Stepanyan, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian and LACOE Assistant Principal Tina Vartanian, who worked with the student on her essay.

During the week of July 15th through the 21st, 2018, people across the United States and Canada will join together to recognize the work that probation, parole, and community supervision professionals do for our public safety. This year, the theme is “Clients, Employees, and Communities – Power through Partnerships”. Working together makes for stronger bonds between colleagues, community partners, and with those under supervision. 

Members of our community are encouraged to join together during Pretrial, Probation, Parole Supervision Week to honor those who work to make our communities a safer place to live. This week we will be spotlighting the employees who make Los Angeles County Probation the finest probation department in the world.

A graduate of Los Angeles County Office of Education's (LACOE) Road To Success Academy at Los Angeles County Probation's Camp Scott in Saugus was recently recognized for winning third place in the California Armenian Legislative Caucus essay contest.

Student Odelea chose to nominate her former probation officer, Azat Stepanyan, an Armenian immigrant who, despite great adversity, entered a life of public service and motivated her to go to college.

"He deserves to be recognized for being the angel that help me change my life," wrote Odelea, who is African American, in her essay. "In studying the Armenian Genocide, I realize that even though I am from another culture, the pain and passion in this transformation of our cultures are very relevant in both … My life has been enriched by this fine role model, and it will never be the same."

The Armenian Legislative Caucus holds two scholarship contests each year to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The essay and visual arts contests aim to increase awareness of the Armenian Genocide on its anniversary in April.

This year's essay contest asked participants to nominate a notable Armenian American to the California Hall of Fame in Sacramento.

Chief McDonald said the essay touches everyone who reads it with its message about human kindness and humanity.

"Irrespective of how we get to where we're going in life, we all have the opportunity to make a profound difference in each other's lives," she said. "To Officer Stepanyan, you represent the finest in probation. I expect big things from you. But I expect even bigger things from [Odelea]."

Armenian Caucus Chair Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian said the nomination of Deputy Probation Officer II Stepanyan had particular meaning for him. "Here is a humble nomination by an individual who's had her life impacted by a public servant," he said.

"This is a very special moment for one of our extraordinary students. We are thrilled and so proud," said LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo.

The student, who won a $500 scholarship in the essay contest, earned her high school equivalency at LACOE's Road To Success Academy and now attends Los Angeles Mission College. Her career goal is to become a nurse practitioner.

Read the student's essay here.

Learn more about the contest here.