PALOS VERDES, Calif. — In 2019, the Armenian Studies Program Director at Fresno State (CSUF) announced that the James L. Melikian L.A. Brothers Scholarship fund had been established. The effort to create the Fresno State scholarship was led by alumnus Melikian (“The Popcorn Man”), who established his company in 1977. A donation of $5,100 established the scholarship that will be awarded to deserving students studying in the Armenian Studies Program. Since 2019, James L. Melikian L.A. Brothers has donated a total of $8,695 in scholarship funding at Fresno State.
Each year, Melikian, a former Fresno State Top Dog award winner, and Armenian Studies Program donor invites friends to his Palos Verdes home (with beautiful Pacific Ocean views and Los Angeles vistas) to enjoy cognac and cigars for a private fundraiser. Melikian’s company provides school districts in California and other states with healthy, nutritious items for the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, the Child Care Program as well as the After School Snack Program.
“We’ve made sure that every dollar we raise goes to the scholarship,” says Melikian. “There was only one problem. There were some members of the brotherhood who felt this scholarship should go to Cal State Northridge, USC, UCLA, et cetera. And I said, ‘That’s not going to happen. This is going to Fresno State.’” Melikian supports other programs within the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State, and said his love of the university drives his philanthropy. He looks forward to supporting students in the years to come with the James L. Melikian and L.A. Brothers Scholarship. This scholarship, and the 33 other named scholarships, create a lasting and life-changing impact on students’ lives.
The Armenian Studies Program was established in 1977 and the Center for Armenian Studies was founded in 1988. The Center provides an opportunity for students and faculty to interact and currently houses the Armenian Studies Program, the Sahatdjian Armenian Studies Library, the Avedian Armenian Studies Archives, the newspaper Hye Sharzhoom/Armenian Action, the Armenian Students Organization, and the Index of Armenian Art. The program engages students in the interdisciplinary study of one of the world’s oldest civilizations, by exploring the language, art, literature, and history of the Armenian people and connecting this knowledge to the world today.
The program has a distinguished history and Armenian and Armenian Studies courses have been taught at Fresno State for over fifty years. It is the largest undergraduate program in the United States, and was the first such program in the California State University (CSU) system. The Haig & Isabel Berberian Endowed Chair in Armenian Studies was the first Endowed Chair in the CSU system. The program administers 34 scholarship funds that provide financial assistance for students enrolled in Armenian and Armenian studies courses. Tuition has continued to increase and so the need for scholarships has also increased to assist deserving students.
“Last year academic year, 2021-2022, the Armenian Studies Program awarded $88,000 in scholarships to 50 students. The program offers a Minor in Armenian Studies, which provides in-depth experience into the field,” says Armenian Studies Program Director Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian.