The Armenian Studies Program 28th Annual Banquet was held on March 6 at the Ft. Washington Golf and Country Club, and brought together many of Fresno State’s distinguished alumni, faculty, and students. More than 220 guests gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the students and the success of the ever-growing Armenian Studies Program. Among the guests at the Banquet were Dr. Joseph I. Castro, President of Fresno State; Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, the new Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities; Dr. Honora Chapman, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities; and Richard M. Mills Jr., the United States Ambassador to Armenia.
Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Director of the Armenian Studies Program, opened the event by thanking the donors and students without whom the Program would not exist. Der Mugrdechian noted that the Armenian Studies Program has consistently grown over the years, and this growth can be seen in the increased number of students enrolled in Armenian Studies courses and the increase in the amount of donor money in the form of scholarships available for students enrolled in Armenian Studies courses. “This year, more than $55,000 in scholarships was awarded to 52 students,” said Der Mugrdechian.
Similar sentiments were shared by Dr. Sergio La Porta, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, who continued to emphasize the importance of students and their accomplishments. “The Annual Banquet is a special event. It is when we get together as a unique community to look back and celebrate the achievements of the most important part of the university—our students. For faculty there is no greater satisfaction than to see our students’ work and accomplishments recognized and appreciated,” said Dr. La Porta.
Equally deserving of recognition is the Armenian Studies Program itself. Dean Jiménez-Sandoval and Associate Dean Dr. Honora Chapman discussed the important role of the Program within the College of Arts and Humanities. The Armenian Studies Program provides Fresno State’s diverse student population with education in communicative skills, humanistic values, and cultural awareness, which are all goals the College of Arts and Humanities strives to achieve.
“The Armenian Studies Program is now enrolling more students than ever before; it is the biggest [Armenian Studies] Program in the country,” said Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval. Aside from it academic benefits, Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval also reflected on the importance of the Program for the Armenian community. “A civilization and a society are known to be successful only when they invest in the arts and humanities. A society which does not teach its past, its culture, its poetry, its architecture, is a society that is doomed,” stated Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval.
Attending the Armenian Studies Program Banquet for the third consecutive year, President Castro continued to show his strong support for the Armenian Studies Program and the Armenian community. “The Armenian Studies Lecture Series has certainly brought a variety of world class programs and events to our campus for students and the community. We are working hard to deepen our connection with the community and our Armenian Studies Program is certainly a wonderful model for that,” said Dr. Castro. He also remarked on the Armenian Studies students, stating “We are so proud of the students here today, and proud of all of our Armenian-American students who are consistently among the very best at Fresno State.”
Following the guest speakers, graduating seniors earning a Minor in Armenian Studies, ASO Executive officers, and recipients of Armenian Studies scholarships were individually acknowledged and awarded certificates. More than fifty students attended the Banquet with family and friends. In addition, three graduating seniors earning a Minor in Armenian Studies–Lauren Char-dukian, Zhora Pogosyan, and Menas Arisian–also received special graduation stoles designated for the Armenian Studies Minor. They were each given the opportunity to express their feelings about their involvement with the Program.
The Armenian Studies Program closed another year of academic and cultural excellence. Reflecting on his time at Fresno State and as part of the Armenian Studies Program Zhora Pogosyan stated, “We are lucky to have Professor Der Mugrdechian, Professor La Porta, their tireless efforts with the Armenian Studies Program, and all those who support it. The Program has rewarded me with knowledge about my culture and a desire to elevate myself for the purpose of elevating my community, my country, and my university.”