Dr. Jack Kevorkian Speaks to Sold Out Audience at UCLA

LOS ANGELES—Right-to-die activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian shared his ideologies about death, dying and civil liberties on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, one of the country’s top academic and research institutions.

The sold out event which attracted almost 2000 attendees was hosted by the Armenian Students’ Association at UCLA in collaboration with the Armenian-American Medical Society of California.

Moments before the event officially began, Dr. Kevorkian approached the podium to set down his notes, inadvertently stepping into the spotlight. He received a standing ovation by the at-capacity audience. The evening’s emcee, Alex Kalognomos, swiftly followed by saying, “If you don’t know Jack, you’ve come to the right place.” The spontaneous moment set the tone for a two-hour discussion filled with poignancy and humor.

The audience was greeted and welcomed by Nina Babaian and Dr. Vicken Sepilian, presidents of the ASA at UCLA and the AAMSC. Babaian thanked the ASA board members, including Cultural Director Jano Boghossian for initiating the communications with Dr. Kevorkian. She concluded by thanking Dr. Sepilian and the AAMSC board members, noting that “without you this event would not have been possible.”

Dr. Sepilian thanked the ASA and announced that the AAMSC will donate the proceeds from the event to the AAMSC scholarship fund which provides financial aid to students in need who are pursuing careers in medicine. The announcement drew applause and cheers from the audience, comprised mostly of students.

As the program continued, Alex Kalognomos introduced Dr. Kevorkian as a man who “set out to change societal values to compassionately meet the needs of hopeless patients who no longer wish to live – but are not allowed to die.”

In his key-note address, Dr. Kevorkian spoke about the rights of an individual to make end-of-life decisions, shedding light on the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution, which focuses on personal liberty and natural rights. His address was followed by an audience question and answer session moderated by UCLA alumnus and former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia, the honorable Raffi Hovannisian. They were joined by Dr. Kevorkian’s friend and lawyer, Mayer Morganroth.

The program was followed by a private reception where Dr. Kevorkian greeted guests, signed copies of the evening’s program, and was interviewed by the international press.

“Our organizations – the AAMSC and the ASA – are proud to have been a part of bringing Dr. Kevorkian to the campus,” said AAMSC Vice-President Dr. Serineh Voskanian Melidonian. “He has inspired and provoked much thought amongst medical professionals and others alike and the evening was a huge success all around,” added Dr. Vicken Sepilian. “We look forward to future collaborations.”

UCLA’s ASA president Nina Babaian said of the event: “We were thrilled by the response and plan to bring other prominent Armenian speakers to the campus.”

“Dr. Kevorkian is a man who is committed to standing firmly in his convictions, and I’m honored that he spoke at our university,” added Jano Boghossian.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, born May 26, 1928, is an American pathologist, right-to-die activist, painter, composer, instrumentalist and author. He is best-known for publicly championing a terminal patient’s right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he claims to have assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He famously said that “dying is not a crime.”

Beginning in 1999 Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. He was released on parole in 2007, on condition that he would not offer suicide advice to any other person. Available for download without charge, is a copy of his book at www.amendmentnine.com.

The Armenian Students’ Association at UCLA was established in 1945 to promote and encourage the academic, intellectual, and social advancement of UCLA’s approximately 500 students of Armenian descent.

The mission of AAMSC is to cultivate and develop professional, social, and friendly relations amongst its members, and to contribute toward the improvement of the health services rendered to the Armenian community in the Diaspora and Armenia. Since its inception, the Armenian American Medical Society of California has been a vibrant and integral part of the community in all its endeavors. Programs include Pediatric Epilepsy Project, Rural Hospital Project, Juvenile Diabetes Project, AAMSC Scholorship and Mentorship Programs as well as several other programs and projects. For more information, please visit www.aamsc.com.

UCLA is a shared public asset, owned and operated by the 38 million people of California. UCLA is one of the world’s great research universities. Faculty includes Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Interdisciplinary teaching and research is a particular strength, with initiatives in the arts, stem cells and other bio-sciences, nanoscience, international studies and the environment. There are almost 40,000 students at UCLA. The campus is a cultural magnet for the entire Southern California region. Performances and lectures fill Royce Hall with enthusiastic audiences for music, dance, debate and the spoken word. UCLA’s ultimate goal as a public research university is the creation and application of knowledge to better the lives and well-being of people. For more information, please visit www.ucla.edu/about.html

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