This article is about another point of light that has been shining over the darkened horizon of Armenia. Simply put, there are those among us, there are few around, who have decided undeterred to continue to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. I am referring to the quietly and steadily functioning foundation named after its primary, and at the moment only benefactor, Jerair Nishanian of Vienna, Virginia.
Behind the foundation are two dynamic and dedicated souls, husband and wife team of Anahid and Jerair Nishanian who with a select group of community leaders and professionals as board of directors oversee and manage a multifaceted philanthropic mission. The primary mission of the foundation has been to facilitate an opportunity for the underprivileged, talented young Armenian students to attend college and achieve their inherent potentials and in turn contribute to the welfare of the motherland and future generations.
Established nine years ago Jerair Nishanian Foundation’s benefactors visited Gavor State University (GSU) and were impressed to witness how much the president and his staff had achieved with so very little resources. The foundation responded with underwriting the expenses of a dormitory and a classroom building. The main thrust of the foundation was to assist the students. Originally, ten students were granted scholarships, especially those who could not meet the local requirements to enroll with the state provided scholarships. Since then, the foundation has expanded its scholarship program through the offices of Fund for Armenia’s Relief (FAR) of the Diocese. Currently 53 students annually are recipients of scholarships from the foundation: 40 undergraduate GSU students, nine graduate GSU students, and four students at Yerevan State University in architecture and civil engineering.
As of this date, twelve have successfully graduated from GSU, eight with bachelors degree and four with master’s degree with excellence (red diplomas).
During one of her frequent visits to Washington DC, the Hon. Hranoush Hagopian, then the parliamentary representative for Gavar, Armenia, now the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, met with the Nishanian couple, who were convinced that they should concentrate their philanthropy at GSU. The FAR office later was eager and willing to become the facilitator-administrator of the scholarship fund on location.
In the near future, the foundation hopes to establish a two year engineering associate degree program at GSU. The purpose is to provide opportunity to those who otherwise would not have the chance to study engineering, but with a head start they might be able to transfer to a four year university to complete their engineering studies.
The Jerair Nishanian Foundation, in addition to the far reaching and ambitious educational program centered in Armenia, has extended its generosity to other worthy causes: it has sponsored series of educational seminars at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, Washington DC; sponsored the publication of a uniquely spiritual book. And soon to be published the english translation of “The Armenian Question is Resolved” authored by genocide recognition champion, Dr, Taner Akcam.
Here is what Mr. Karapetan, the field Coordinator of the Fund in Yerevan, recently reported:
”Home visits started right after the deadline for applications. Visits were paid to all applicants. Myself and the team that conducted home visits returned to the office with very heavy feelings . The families of students, especially those in rural areas, live a difficult life. It was a good chance for us to get familiarized with the families and see first hand their social conditions. This helps us once again understand and appreciate how vital and important this program is, as it inspires hope into the lives of the most disadvantaged families. Without this opportunity, the dreams of these children to go to higher education would indeed never come true.”
The Jerair Nishanian Foundation is a tax exempt (501(c)(3) charitable organization headquartered in Vienna Virgina.
Another point of light indeed! ”Hats off” to the Nishanians.
Archpriest Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian
Pastor Emeritus St. Mary Arm. Church, Washington D.C.

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