Glendale, Calif.- The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA held its annual Outstanding High School Graduates’ Awards Ceremony on June 4, 2018 at the ARS Regional Headquarters in Glendale, Calif.
31 graduates from high schools throughout Southern California gathered at the event, alongside the presence of the ARS Regional Executive Board, local ARS chapter executives, high school principals, counselors, and parents to receive ARS scholarship certificates and awards acknowledging their academic achievements.
ARS Regional Executive Board member Anita Altounian delivered opening remarks and welcomed students and guests. She stated, “Educating our youth continues to be one of the primary objectives of the ARS. Along with operating one-day schools, providing assistance to Armenian day schools and higher institutions, the ARS continues to assist high school, college and university students with scholarships.”
Atounian introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Talar Chahinian, who holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and lectures in the Department of Comparative World Literature and Classics at California State University, Long Beach. Currently, she is the co-editor of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. She contributes regularly to the online journal, Critics’ Forum, and the literary magazine Pakine.
Dr. Chahinian congratulated students for their achievements and stated, “As Armenian-Americans, you occupy an even greater vantage point. As first, second, or third generation immigrants, you understand what it means to negotiate between cultures, languages or even nationalities. You understand how these spaces are constructed, how histories are inter-connected, and how there’s beauty in cultural hybridity and plurality. As descendants of genocide survivors, you’re familiar with power structures that organize the world’s population, with the politics of dispersion, and with the discourse of social justice. All of this makes you an ideal candidate for the much-revered diverse classroom that today’s universities strive for.”
Referencing the increased sense of disconnection that individuals may feel as a result of the digital era, Dr. Chahinian advised students to interact with their professors, establish connections, work to create community among their peers, integrate themselves on campuses, to be vocal and visible, and build support systems. “While it will be the digital space that connects you to the world, it is the human connection that will ultimately allow you to translate the world of ideas into enriching experiences,” she expressed.
Thereafter, Regional Board member Altounian expressed words of gratitude to parents, who play an important and inspirational role in their children’s lives and enable them to take charge of their educational journey. In her closing remarks, Altounian advised students to make wise decisions and expressed wishes for great success in their educational pursuits and future professional careers.
Following remarks, the scholarship recipients, who earned high GPAs and served their communities, came forward to receive their certificates and awards. ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian and ARS chapter executive representatives presented the awards to the students. Eleven chapters granted scholarship awards in the amount of $500 each to the chosen recipients.
At the end of the program, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian addressed guests and extended appreciation for their acceptance of the invitation to attend this special occasion. She encouraged students and parents to always keep in mind the noble work of the Armenian Relief Society, as well as the importance of giving back to communities.
The evening concluded with a reception, during which the attendees had the opportunity to meet and greet.
The ARS chapters and their awardees follow:
Anahid Chapter, San Fernando Valley
- Alexa Gevorkyan, Ferrahian High School
- Sarkis Majarian, Ferrahian High School
- Matthew Mooradian, Reseda High School
- Alexandra Shakarian, Taft High School
Araz Chapter, Burbank
- Meri Avetisyan, Burbank High School
- Vana Mirzakhani, Burbank High School
- Sarkis Tatarian, John Burroughs High School
Karni Chapter, S. Orange County
- Alexander Jemal, Mission Viejo High School
- Aleck Mardirossian, San Juan Hills High School
Lori Chapter, N. San Fernando Valley
- Sevag Sarkissian, Ferrahian High School
Maro Chapter, Los Angeles
- Serli Shanlian, Armenian Mesrobian School
- Paulina Sipilian, Ferrahian High School
Meghry Chapter, North Hollywood
- Jessica Minassian, Hollywood High School
Nairy Chapter, Montebello
- Anush Ghoogasian, Armenian Mesrobian School
- Leanna Keshishian, Montebello High School
- Hovhannes Minasyan, Schurr High School
- Hasmik Petrosyan, Applied Technology Center
Sepan Chapter, Glendale
- Ani Ordubekyan, Glendale High School
- Eliza Petrosyan, Glendale High School
- Manvel Yelanyan, Glendale High School
- Ankeen S. Arestakesyan, Hoover High School
- Serop Jay Jejeian, Hoover High School
- Rita Ohan, Hoover High School
Sevan Chapter, Orange County
- Karine Codilian, Irvine High School
- Talar Dishoian, Marina High School
- Galia Wartan, Elsinore High School
Sosse Chapter, Pasadena
- Aram Chalikyan, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School
- Alina Lahian, Crescenta Valley High School
Talin Chapter, La Crescenta
- Allen Khudaverdyan, Clark Magnet High School
- Arman Megerdechyan, Verdugo Hills High School
- Michelle Nareh Tahmasian, Crescenta Valley High School
Distant chapters also granted scholarships to students in their local communities. As such, the ARS Fresno “Mayr” Chapter awarded scholarships to Anna Arakelian (Bullard High School) and Vart Vars Megerditchian (Clovis High School). The ARS Fresno “Sophia” Chapter awarded scholarships to Ariana Temurian (Central High School) and Max Gulesserian (Clovis West High School). The ARS San Francisco “Garin” Chapter awarded scholarships to university students Evan Ugarte and Lena Ohanian.
One student will also receive the Puzantian Scholarship, in the amount of $1,000, awarded by the ARS of Western USA, Regional Executive Board. Additionally, two university students, who applied for the 2018 ARS Scholarship, administered by the ARS Central Executive Board, will receive scholarships, along with applicants from other regions.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 26 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, one-day schools, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For additional information, visit www.arswestusa.org or call (818) 500-1343.