GLENDALE—Supporting youth education is one of the philanthropic aims of the Armenian Relief Society and the annual Award Night for public high school graduates is one of the means that outstanding graduates are recognized. This year, the event hosted by the ARS of Western USA Regional Executive was held on June 7, 2010, at the ARS Regional Headquarters in Glendale.
Seventeen beaming graduates selected by ARS Chapters were joined by their family members. Greg Krikorian, President of Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, attended the event along with guidance counselors from Hollywood, John Marshall, Hoover, Glendale and Schurr High Schools. ARS Chapter Executives were on hand to hand out the awards.
Arousyak Melkonian, Vice-Chair of the ARS Regional Executive, made welcoming remarks as the emcee. She introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Shant Shekherdimian, who is a graduate of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Melkonian noted that our speaker practices general surgery at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles and had graduated from UCLA’s Executive Master of Public Health program, which included spending time in Yerevan, Armenia to assess the Yerevan Medical Center.
Dr. Shekherdemian spoke eloquently to all those present, giving special advice to each group: graduates, their parents, and the ARS members, along with the community. He told the graduates that they should work hard and make the right choices in life, at the same time not to forget to have fun.
With his own life story, about how he set a goal in his life to help Armenia and revised that goal as he learnt that what Armenia needed was not surgeons, but a good health care system; and how he went back to school to accomplish that goal. He advised the graduates to set themselves an outrageous goal in life to set themselves apart from others and make a difference. His inspiration in reaching his goal was a photograph of a patient in Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
He advised the parents that high school graduation is not the same as other graduations, because things will change and they have to let go of their children so they can make their own journeys in life. He told ARS members and friends that these graduates are not just getting awards, but a contract which is expected to be honored with their success.
Following a video presentation focusing on the ARS, Sossie Poladian, Chairperson of the ARS of Western USA, Regional Executive board delivered her message. She explained that the headquarters is a service center buzzing with social services and counseling clients during the day, and volunteers from all over the southland who raise funds for schools, scholarships, youth centers and orphans at night.
She remarked that “The ARS is a century old organization, which continues to thrive, because we are always learning how to do things better, how to use technology for our benefit, how to educate our new members, so they too will carry on the torch”. She said that after the graduates reach their educational goals, they are expected to carry on the leadership of the community, and asked them to consider helping the ARS, to help the greater community.
Poladian handed Regional Executive certificates to the graduates, while chapter executives delivered the awards.
Due to conflicting schedules, some ARS high school graduates received their awards at their school Award Nights, while others at various ARS chapter events, including the one held in San Francisco.
Congratulations to the outstanding graduates, and to all graduates who are embarking on a new path of progress in their lives.