The Hye Sharzhoom may not have made it to its 28th year without Randy Baloian.
In the mid-1980’s Baloian and editor Vahé Messerlian helped revitalize the college newspaper. “It was hard work,” said Baloian, who was editor during the 1985-1986 school year. “Neither of us were journalists.”
According to Baloian, age 44, the paper had been on hiatus and Messerlian thought it was time to bring it back. “We solicited some students from the Armenian Students Organization for help,” Baloian said.
One student Baloian credited as being instrumental was Gary Kazanjian, who now works as a professional photographer. “Gary would take the pictures and we would write the stories,” Baloian said.
The most challenging part Baloian said was doing the layout. “It wasn’t computerized like today,” he commented. “We had to paste pieces to big paper. It was a real pain.”
Baloian graduated from Fresno State with degrees in Business and Anthropology, along with a minor in Armenian Studies. He later received a master’s degree in Anthropology from UC Davis.
A career in anthropology was put on hold when Baloian began working at his family’s local produce company. But five years ago he left the family business and began working at Applied Earth Works, a company that deals with historical preservation. The firm studies historical sites, such as old buildings and landmarks. “We study the remains of human culture,” he said. “We’re in a developer’s town, where developers rule.”
Baloian’s work requires a great deal of writing. Reports have to be published. That’s where his time with the Hye Sharzhoom comes in handy. “It absolutely helps now,” he said. “I wasn’t so great with words before.”
The time Baloian spent at Fresno State was life changing. He said the Armenian Studies Program allowed him to better understand his culture. “From an Armenian standpoint it gives so much more weight to your beliefs,” he said. “You go out and do something. It is more than just saying I’m Armenian.”
Baloian has been married 10 years to his wife Mary, who also works at Applied Earthwork as an archaeologist. They have two children, Sosse and Lilly. He says he tries to stay active in the Armenian community. Currently he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Community School. Sosse attends the private school and is in the second grade.
Baloian said the Armenian Studies program and the Hye Sharzhoom would always have a special place in his heart. “I read every issue,” he said.