Each year, the Armenian Educational Foundation hosts a reception in Yerevan with sponsors and AEF scholarship recipients. Due to Covid, the reception was not held in 2020 and 2021. This year, all plans were made to hold a reception once again with this year’s 1,000 scholarship recipients. However, due to the September 13 Azerbaijan invasion into Armenia, the foundation decided to cancel the event. The AEF Yerevan office decided to arrange for students to meet with their sponsors who were in Armenia in October.
Hagop and Sonia Koujakian, who reside in San Francisco, sponsor 30 student scholarships, in memory of Hagop’s parents, Abraham and Verjine Koujakian. The Koujakians hosted a luncheon with their sponsored students at the Ani Plaza Hotel. Each student introduced themselves and thanked the Koujakians for their support. Several said they would not be able to attend university if it was not for the scholarship. Many were 44-day Artsakh war veterans.
Razmig Arzoumanian co-founder, with Chris Petrossian, of the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund, met with the 25 students sponsored by the non-profit organization. All 25 were wounded during the 44-day Artsakh war. After several students thanked AEF and AWHF for their scholarships, Razmig said that no thank you is necessary because the thanks really goes to the heroes in the room who served and sacrificed for the homeland. Many said that they could not have attended university if it was not for the scholarship. Several said the scholarship is a motivation for them to work hard at their studies and succeed.
Two veterans said they were in the same hospital after being wounded and that once they recovered, they were again sent to the front lines. They are now best friends. One veteran student said too many people have great words on how much they love the fatherland, but AEF showed its love by actioN—supporting them to complete their university studies and giving them the opportunity to achieve their goals. AWHF donated $50,000 last year to support 50 wounded veteran scholarships and this year. AWHF pledged $100,000 to support 25 wounded veteran scholarships for four years.
Alice and Vahik Petrossian met with their 20 students (10 wounded veterans). One female student, who recently lost her father, broke down and cried. Her father was the only one working and she said she could not have continued her education if it was not for the scholarship. Another spoke very patriotically about not leaving the homeland. One veteran spoke about his uncle being a hero of the first Artsakh war and how he and his two brothers served during the 44-day Artsakh war.
Sheila Papayans and Ron Frizzell met with the three students sponsored by Sheila and the two students sponsored by Sheila’s son, Michael Papayans. Four of the five students are 44-day war veterans. One of the students said his parents wanted him to go to medical school, but was not interested in medicine and did not want to be a doctor. After serving as a medic in the 44-day war and saving many lives, he decided to attend medical school and become a surgeon.
Isaac and Frieda Vartanian met with their 10 sponsored students. Each student gave a short background and thanked the Vartanians for their support. One student who served in Martuni during the 44-day war had recently returned from military service. Another young lady said her brother fought in the war and was severely wounded. Yet another from Artsakh lost her home in Kashatagh. Two Students said they attended the village high school renovated by the Vartanians.
Varant Markarian met with his four students. A student, who is also a mother, said she attended university free for four years, but needed the scholarship to complete her masters. All four students are from Verin Artashat school, which was renovated by Varant Markarian and his late brother Warazdat.
Garo Mirigian met with his sponsored student, Mane Sargsyan. Mane is a 4th year student majoring in Turkish Studies. She shared her future career goals and her reasons for picking this institution with Garo and thanked him for his sponsorship of her scholarship.
Armine Koundakjian met with five students whose scholarships are in memory of her husband, Varoujan Koundakjian. The students thanked Armine for sponsoring their education and shared impressive details of their academic achievements.
In June, Aida participated in the scholarship interview panel. After several days of interviewing scholarship applicants, Aida was so moved, while recognizing the need for more scholarship support, that she called her friends and her two daughters and added 10 more sponsored scholarships.