Board of the JNF, Front row, from left, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Jirair Nishanian, Founder and CEO, Tagvor Nishanian, PhD, Back row: Anahid Nishanian, Diramayr Anahid Kalayjian,RN,MA, Vazerick Nishanian, Esq., Alineh Templin, and Zaven Kalayjian, PhD

Jerair Nishanian Foundation (JNF) Mourns the Loss of Scholarship Recipient


GAITHERSBURG, Md. — In the past, the Jerair Nishanian Foundation (JNF) has celebrated the great accomplishments of its scholarship recipients. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the 44-day war launched by Azerbaijan with the full support of Turkey, JNF scholarship awardees and their families suffered, too.

The Artsakh War changed how 21-year-old Davit Ghulyan views his reality. “Life is not the same as it was before the war; my life is divided into two segments — before and after,” he said.

A few month ago, Davit completed his three years of military service with honors for his brave conduct during the war. He is now back at school, focused on his studies in architecture at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia thanks to assistance from the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR).

“I have become more considerate of my parents, my friends, and my surroundings,” said Davit. “I now put more thought into things.”


Davit was born and raised in Talish, Artsakh, which is now under control of Azerbaijan. He was in the fifth grade when the family moved to Yerevan so that he could get a better education.

“Talish was my brightest childhood memory,” said Davit, who has been painting since an early age. Prior to starting his military service in 2019, Davit created a couple of paintings depicting the horrors of war. “I don’t know why I made those, but when I look at these works now the war comes right back.”

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Together with 25 soldiers, Davit was first sent to Martakert, then to Mataghis and Shushi as chief of his field artillery unit.

“Giving up was not an option so I had to constantly encourage my soldiers,” he said. “I have lost many friends to the war, which, to me, is the most tragic part of it all. But I have learned to value my life and will now do my best to become a professional.”

Satik Varzhapetyan can hardly hold back her tears while recollecting her last conversations with her son Narek. “The word ‘hero’ has forever lost its meaning for me,” she said.

Narek, 19, was killed while fighting in the 2020 Artsakh War. Six months after starting his military service, when Narek was on his first home leave, he asked his mother if she wanted her son to be a martyr.

“Satik was astonished for a minute, then her eyes filled with tears and she asked him to never ever again say something like that. ‘I don’t want my son to be a fallen hero,’ she said. ‘I want him to be back home after the army safe and sound,’” recalled Narek’s grandmother Mihranush.

Narek was fatally wounded on October 19. He was due to finish his service three months later.


Back during the Four Day War of 2016, Narek, just 15 at the time, wanted to go to Artsakh and fight. “He was rushing to get into the army,” said Satik.

Eventually, Narek wanted to become an architect. Prior to starting his military service, Narek was immersed in his studies at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia, which he attended with help from FAR’s Jerair Nishanian Foundation Scholarship Program. And while a relative had invited him to move to Frankfurt so that he could pursue his studies there, Narek rejected the offer. He preferred to stay in Armenia.

On October 15, 2020, Narek’s battalion of 33 soldiers, and of which he was the leader, was transferred to Ishkhanadzor in Artsakh.

October 18 was the last time Satik heard Narek’s voice when she spoke with him over the phone. The entire battalion was killed when their tanks were shelled. Their bodies were found 52 days later after the Armenians received permission to cross the border following the ceasefire.

To support the family, FAR recently distributed financial assistance provided by the Nishanian family and Nishanian Foundation Board Members. The money will be used to support Narek’s sister’s studies. Her long-term goal is the same as her deceased brother’s: to excel in architecture.

JNF evolved through Jirair Nishanian’s profound sense of duty inherited from his parents, who were both survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and a deep desire to assist underprivileged young Armenians, in particular talented ones, to help them achieve their potentials so that they can contribute to the advancement of their Motherland.

Since its creation, JNF has accomplished several special projects in addition to the ongoing scholarship program: JNF was one of the six major donors for the Armenian Genocide Centennial, which took place in Washington, DC; Remodeling and construction of the main altar of St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington, DC; Remodeling and construction of buildings in Gavar State University; Sponsored and funded the translation and publication of The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity, by Prof. Taner Akçam; published the children’s book Yes Hye Em by Anoush Nakashian; translation and publication of a history textbook History of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in Eastern Armenian, authored by several Armenian scholars and to be used as a textbook by universities in Armenia; the publication of a second textbook Contemporary History of Literature, a book summarizing the Turkish literature as it pertains to the Armenian Genocide and Akçam’s book, Forced Islamization of the Armenians, translated into English and Armenian from Turkish.

The JNF board is honored and privileged to have as member Abp. Vicken Aykazian, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination. Bishop Daniel Findikian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, wrote the following of Abp. Aykazian, “Through his intelligence, spirituality, and warm personality, Vicken Aykazian has been a servant of incalculable value to our Diocese, Church, and the Armenian people in general. A true soldier of our Lord, he provides an edifying example of leadership for us all.” We congratulate him and wish him many more years in the service of the Church.

Jirair Nishanian values education very highly. Since the creation of the JNF, he has provided scholarships for students at Gavar University in the Gegharkunik region and students in Yerevan University of Architecture. The scholarship programs are managed by FAR (Fund for Armenian Relief) in Yerevan, an organization affiliated with the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church.

— Yeretzgin Anahid Kalaydjian


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