NEW YORK — The Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) recently announced the selection of its first five Margaret Ajemian Ahnert Scholars, who now have the chance to continue their education in journalism and become future leaders in the Armenian press.
Established in July, this scholarship aims to specifically support and empower aspiring female journalists by providing the opportunity to receive the education and training they need. Margaret Ajemian Ahnert established this scholarship fund in memory of her mother Ester Ajemian. The fund, administered by FAR, provides full tuition and monthly stipends to female graduate students in Armenia. Ahnert, herself a media specialist, worked for years as a television producer and a teacher before publishing her first book, The Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide, which is based on her mother’s memories of the 1915 genocide, its unprecedented horrors and her escape.
Twenty-three people applied for the scholarship. The five winners are working toward their master’s degrees in journalism at Yerevan State University and the Armenian State Pedagogical University. Only one student is from Yerevan; the rest are from various regions of Armenia and neighboring republics. Students are required to maintain excellent grades and must agree to work in Armenia or Karabagh for the same number of years that they are supported by the scholarship.
This year’s scholars are:
•Anna Aghvanyan was born in 1989 in Alaverdi in the Lori region. Along with her studies, she works at ArmenPress News Agency, filing anywhere between five and 10 news stories per day. She has also written interesting articles about everyday student life, which have been published in the newspaper, Hayastani Zrutsakits. While she realizes that she has chosen a challenging field, Aghvanyan believes every journalist has an important mission to deliver the truth. With determination to develop her professional skills, She will study in France for six months next year on scholarship at the Université de Versaille. Her father works as a driver’s assistant in Sanahin’s Locomotive Depot. Her mother is unemployed. She can only afford to pay her university’s dormitory fees.
•Naira Hambardzumyan was born in 1990 and has written for newspapers since the age of 12. As a child, she learned painting in the Center for Fine Arts Education. Today, she successfully manages the “Youth Page” of the Eter Weekly (http://www.eter.tv/). She also works as a press secretary in the Hay Aspet (Armenian Knight) Educational Philanthropic Fund. Her undergraduate thesis was devoted to issues regarding the press and the military. She also wants to create a journalism handbook for beginners.
•Manya Poghosyan was born in 1990 in Getashen, Azerbaijan. She was 2 when her entire village fled to Armenia as a result of attacks. Today, her family barely manages to make ends meet. For many years they lived in the Hankavan Dormitory and just recently celebrated a house-warming at their new apartment in Hayanist. Poghosyan has wanted to become a journalist since childhood. She primarily writes about Armenian refugees who have migrated from Azerbaijan and their harsh living conditions. Some of her articles received the Silver Feather award.
•Satenik Asatryan, a student at Armenian State Pedagogical University, was born in Khndzoresk, in the Syunik region, in 1989. The village is famous for its wonderful nature and ancient pagan history. During the Nagorno-Karabagh War, the men of this village led heroic struggle in the name of liberation. Asatryan’s father, Rafik, was wounded during one of such battle on April 17, 1994. Today, he is handicapped and unable to work. Currently, the 21-year- old lives with her brother in a rented apartment in Yerevan. She is a talented writer and a correspondent for various newspapers.
•Betghehem Arabyan also studies at Armenian State Pedagogical University. She was born in 1988 in Vale, Georgia. During her years at the local Armenian school she wrote many poems and novels. Arabyan was only 3 when her mother died of heart failure. In 2004, her father died in a car accident. In spite of her family tragedy, she decided to return to her ancestral homeland. “All my plans are connected with Armenia,” she said.
Recently, the scholars visited FAR’s Yerevan office to sign their program contracts. Each of them received a copy of The Knock at the Door. They expressed their gratitude for the assistance of the program and promised to fulfill their benefactor’s hopes.
Support for higher education is a major component of FAR’s work. Through its more than 10 diverse scholarship programs, FAR provides a vital opportunity to Armenian youth who wish to continue their education at both state and private universities, or trade schools.