BY MICHAEL RETTIG
From Hye Sharzhoom
The lasting impact that the Armenian Studies Program has had on its alumni is often reflected in the support these former students give to the Program. In the Fall 2017 semester, local attorney Warren Paboojian established the “Warren R. Paboojian Award” to annually recognize the Editor of Hye Sharzhoom. This award, funded by the Warren and Lesa Paboojian Foundation, is the first designated to support Hye Sharzhoom.
Paboojian studied Journalism at Fresno State and graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in 1980. While a student, Paboojian wrote for Insight, the then Journalism Department’s newspaper, as well as the student-run Daily Collegian. When a group of his classmates, including Mark Malkasian, Bill Erysian, and Barlow Der Mugrdechian, started the Hye Sharzhoom under the supervision of Dr. Dickran Kouymjian in 1979, Paboojian eagerly joined the staff.
“It was a way to write about Armenian events for both our campus and the community. We had not seen anything like that, especially on a college campus,” said Paboojian. “My grandfather was the editor of an Armenian newspaper locally, and as time went on, I realized that journalism was something that I wanted to do.”
Paboojian’s first article, on the Armenian Community School of Fresno, appeared in Hye Sharzhoom’s second issue in Fall of 1979.
Writing in student-run papers helped equip Paboojian with the skills he needed to earn his Juris Doctorate degree at the San Joaquin College of Law, where he was inducted into the College’s Hall of Fame for his trial advocacy.
“In a courtroom, I have to communicate the story of my client to the jury. It’s no different than writing a journalism piece,” Paboojian explained. “My experience at Fresno State gave me the tools to communicate and to be successful.”
Paboojian is now a partner in the Baradat & Paboojian law-firm, where he specializes in cases of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and wrongful termination.
In 2008, Paboojian was the first attorney in the Central Valley to become the Consumer Attorneys of California’s (CAOC) “Trial Lawyer of the Year.” He was similarly selected the Cal-ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates) “Trial Lawyer of the Year” in 2017.
The award Paboojian is especially proud of is his selection as the College of Arts and Humanities’ “2017 Top Dog Outstanding Alumnus.” Each year, an alumnus from each of Fresno State’s academic schools and colleges is chosen as “Top Dog” to honor outstanding accomplishments in their field and commitment to service in the community.
Paboojian’s appreciation for his roots at Fresno State are apparent in his nickname, the “Bulldog in the courtroom,” and in his support for Hye Sharzhoom. He learned from his experience as a staff writer that finances are always an issue for student-run papers.
“I wanted to help ease their financial burden and acknowledge the work the Editor puts in to the paper,” explained Paboojian. “The Hye Sharzhoom has a special place in my heart, and every time I receive it I am so glad to see that it is still around after 39 years. I think the world of Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian and his ability to keep the paper going for all these years.”
Michael Rettig is the editor of the Fresno State Univerity’s Armenian Studies Program publication, Hye Sharzhoom