GLENDALE—The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA held its annual Outstanding High School Graduates’ Awards Ceremony at the ARS Regional Headquarters on June 3.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by ARS Regional Executive Board member Anita Altounian, who acknowledged the presence of the event’s keynote speaker, Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, as well as the 35 scholarship recipients, school principals and counselors, parents, and ARS chapter executive members.
Altounian provided an overview of ARS programs and asserted that the educational realm is an integral part of the ARS mission and that the education of young students remains one of the main objectives of the organization. “Annually, the ARS organizes this event to recognize those students, which have been selected for scholarships by local ARS chapters, and to celebrate their academic achievements,” she stated.
Thereafter, Altounian welcomed Keynote Speaker Nora Hovsepian, who delivered an inspirational and motivational, bilingual, message to attendees.
Reflecting on the work of the Armenian Relief Society, Hovsepian asserted that the ARS is one of the most influential and meaningful organizations in the Armenian national identity through its work in the homeland, the Diaspora, and around the world. “The work of the Armenian Relief Society continues in days of peace and plays an instrumental role in our national life. This organization has worked to preserve our language, culture, and traditions,’ she affirmed.
Hovsepian reflected on the history of the Armenian community in the United States, her own personal experiences, the Armenian Genocide and its orphans, including her own grandmother, the incredible efforts of Near East Relief, as well as the importance of taking pride in one’s own cultural heritage.She congratulated students on their achievements and noted that they are worthy of every honor that is bestowed upon them. She advised students to work towards their full potential, to always remember their roots, family, and heritage, to learn from history, to stay connected to the Armenian community, and seek volunteer opportunities.
“You are the sons and daughters of a nation with a proud history, a nation of survivors, a Nation which has overcome all odds, massacre, deportation, Genocide, a nation which survived for centuries without a country. You are the heirs of a rich cultural heritage, one that must be preserved and cherished even in the face of inevitable assimilation on foreign shores. And you are the front line of preserving and protecting our homeland and seeking justice for our nation. So bear this responsibility wisely and fiercely with passion, commitment and sacrifice, because you now stand on the shoulders of all those who came before you and who gave you the opportunity to live in the best of both worlds as Armenians and as Americans,” stated Hovsepian.
Following Hovsepian’s powerful message, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian gifted her with a signature ARS plate by Michael Aram as a token of appreciation on behalf of the ARS Regional Executive Board.
Scholarship recipients were then invited to receive their monetary awards by the ARS Anahid, Araz, Arax, Hollywood Mayr, Maro Nairy, Lori, Sevan, Sepan, Sosse, and Talin chapter executives, alongside certificates by the ARS Regional Executive.
During her closing remarks, Altounian once again congratulated students and wished them success for a bright future ahead. The evening concluded with a reception.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 25 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, one-day schools, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For additional information, visit the website or call (818) 500-1343.