By Ginger DeShaney

Andrew Markarian is going from a graduating class of about 70 students at Boston Collegiate Charter School (BCCS) to Syracuse University, which boasts about 15,000 undergraduates. While he may experience a bit of culture shock in the fall, he’s hoping growing up in South Boston will help him adjust to a big school.

“South Boston isn’t that big, but it still has a huge community, and I feel the same with Syracuse,” said the son of Debbie and Thomas Markarian of South Boston. “I know it’s a large school but I feel like there still could be small communities all around. That’s the same with South Boston. It’s not that large but there are a bunch of things you can do and be included with.”

While he won’t graduate until June, Andrew has already had his senior exit interview at BCCS. He was asked what he would NOT change about the school. “The size of it,” he said. “I know that contradicts the whole entire point of me going to Syracuse. I just want to experience the large school. All my life I’ve been to a small school.” 

Andrew started at the Perry School and has been at BCCS since fifth grade. But he is so much more than a student. He’s been an active participant in the community from very early on.

Andrew has played South Boston Little League since age 4, going all the way up to Babe Ruth last year. This year, he opted out of playing and is umpiring Little League games instead.

He also played South Boston soccer, hockey (but not for too long), and Gate of Heaven basketball (home league, not travel). 

South Boston youth sports “definitely included me in the community more,” said Andrew, whose grandfather, Toros Markarian, was inducted into the South Boston Sports Hall of Fame. “It made me feel like this is my community and it’s really important to me.”

Andrew has also been a fixture at the South Boston Street Festival, helping his dad, who owns Metro Energy, set up his booth. The last couple of years, Andrew has volunteered to help set up the event. 

“I’m pretty into South Boston events; even more so because of what it gave to me,” he said. 

Andrew has volunteered at Castle Island’s Halloween event for many years, first helping his mom, and then as an actor in the Haunted House when he was older. He’s also volunteered for Ollie Palooza, a community-wide event for children and families organized by the South Boston Neighborhood House. 

Through the South Boston Neighborhood House, Andrew was introduced to the Chill Foundation, a positive youth development program where boardsports become a vehicle for empowerment. Andrew learned how to snowboard and worked his way up to teaching young children that skill. Two years ago, Andrew won a scholarship to go to Oregon to snowboard at Mt. Hood, where Olympians train. He also interned for two weeks at the Chill Foundation, where he shadowed the Boston coordinator.

Because of this experience, one of Andrew’s goals after college is to work for a nonprofit organization to benefit others, likely from a vantage point of computer science, which he will be studying at Syracuse.

The summer between his ninth and 10th grades, “I mistakenly signed up for a coding camp,” he laughed. He learned the coding language called Swift but he didn’t learn too much because the camp was just a week long. But he knew he wanted to learn more about it. 

BCCS has a class for it in junior year, so he waited until then and took computer science. In that class, he learned, “Yeah, I definitely want to do this.”

This year he is taking AP computer science, which has further confirmed his desire to study computer science. 

“It’s pretty cool that I can make anything I want just based on the code,” he said. “It’s a challenge. I kind of like those sometimes. It doesn’t get boring.”

In addition to computer science, Andrew’s favorite courses are all math classes. “Sometimes science, but mostly math,” he said. “I’m more into problem-solving fields.” That skill will come in handy for computer science: “Any time you miss one single letter, it will give you an error.”

Andrew is also active in his school community: National Honor Society, soccer, track, cross-country, chess club, and robotics. 

This hard-working young man has a 4.1 GPA on a 4.0 scale and is taking AP computer science and AP calculus this year.

Andrew went to Syracuse for a self-guided tour (because formal in-person tours were not available) before making his final college decision. 

“I went to go see it and at first I was overwhelmed by how large it was,” he said. “But once we started walking, we bumped into the person who admitted me into the college. He gave us the entire rundown of the school, told us what everything was, and it got me comfortable with it.”

On top of that, he knows a student there, who pointed out the must-see places. “It seemed like I  was welcomed there,” Andrew said. “It felt like there are a lot of opportunities there.”

Andrew is happy to be finishing high school. “But I’m also kind of sad to leave home, especially four and a half hours away,” he said, joking that he’ll be closer to Canada than Boston. 

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing college as a whole. It will be interesting.”