Meghedie "Meg" Dersarkissian

Meghedie "Meg" Dersarkissian will graduate as a Black Hawk pilot on Dec. 19, 2013. (Courtesy of Alice Hamrajbaian / March 22, 2013)

Eleven years ago, a student graduating from Clark Magnet High School harbored a slight interest in the military.

Now, that student's military interest has blossomed and she is set to start flying Black Hawk helicopters for the Army.

In a case of changing and pursued passions, Meghedie “Meg” Dersarkissian, 29, will graduate from Army Aviation School in Alabama on Dec. 19.

“I've always loved the idea of rescue,” said Dersarkissian, who, while deployed in Afghanistan for the Air Force, still thought she still might pursue a career as a veterinarian. “I unexpectedly fell in love with Army aviation.”

Born in Iran, Dersarkissian and her family moved to Glendale 26 years ago, her mother, Alice Hamrajbaian, said.

Dersarkissian attended Glendale public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. She became a U.S. citizen at age 18.

After graduating from high school in 2002, Dersarkissian enrolled in Glendale Community College. But she couldn't quite shake the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I just felt, for a lack of better words, I guess really offended by it,” she said. “I wanted to be involved.”

Dersarkissian joined the Air Force as a weather forecaster before completing her college degree. She first worked in forecasting from South Carolina, focusing on the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq known as Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, respectively.

Later, she spent six months in Afghanistan, where she saw firsthand how helicopters could help ground troops and she fell in love with the Black Hawk. The helicopter — also known as the UH-60 — can conduct air assaults, transport troops and assist with medical missions, according to the Army's website.

From an air base in Korea, Dersarkissian started the application process for transferring into the Army to learn how to fly the aircraft she revered.

“She wanted to do something that is hard, that is adventure, and that is not easy,” her mother said. “She put her mind on it and she did it.”

When Dersarkissian graduates this month and starts making flights, Hamrajbaian hopes her daughter's late grandfather will also be looking from the sky.

Dersarkissian's grandfather always hoped that one of his children would fly in the military, her mother said. Although none of his kids did, Dersarkissian will now be fulfilling both his wish and her own.

“I'm sure he's protecting her,” Hamrajbaian said. “This is a huge honor for us that she is flying a helicopter in American military service.”

After graduation, Dersarkissian is scheduled to report to Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

-- Emily Foxhall, emily.foxhall@latimes.com

Follow on Twitter: @emfoxhall.

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