Fencing is a family affair for senior Dayana Sarkisova. The Northwestern foilist is the daughter of Mikhail Sarkisov, a national champion fencer in the former Soviet Union. In the late 1980s, Sarkisov fled Azerbaijan with his family, including 11-month-old Dayana, to Ukraine and eventually the United States.
They settled with a refugee host family in Idaho before moving to Grand Rapids, Mich., where Sarkisov opened the Grand Rapids Fencing Academy in 1993.
“He made fencing this thing to do in Michigan,” Sarkisova said. “And I was always hanging around the club.”
She certainly learned a few things from her father, the U.S. Fencing Association’s 2004 Developmental Coach of the Year. Sarkisova placed third at the NCAA championships her freshman year. The three-time All-American opened the 2012–13 season with a gold medal at the Northwestern-hosted Burton Open.
Beyond the bouts, Sarkisova beat out 1,500 applicants for one of five summer internships with Under Armour, where she worked as a marketing strategy intern with UA’s digital team. The internship, Sarkisova said, fueled her drive to find a sports-related career after she graduates.
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