WATERTOWN — Students, faculty and staff at Princeton University participated in a candlelight vigil for Artsakh on October 12, organized by the Princeton Armenian Society (PAS) to honor those who lost their lives in the cause of Artsakh’s freedom. The vigil was sponsored by both Princeton College Democrats and Princeton College Republicans, as well as the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, with funding from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, and the university’s president was in attendance.
While according to the campus newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, about 50 people were present, PAS Co-President Katya Hovnanian, Princeton Class of 2025, estimated that at its peak, this number increased to 150. The participants included several Princeton Armenian alumni, such as Laurens Ayvazian, Ed Tiryakian and Levon Avanesyan, who came specially to New Jersey for this event.
Students Hayk Yengibaryan (PAS co-president), Lena Hoplamazian and Mikaela Avakian delivered speeches, Hovnanian said, while representatives from the offices of New Jersey Congressmen Frank Pallone and Chris Smith read statements. Fr. Daniel Karadjian recited a prayer and Karinne Andonian sang Groong and Der Voghormya.
Armenian Student Clubs at Princeton
There probably have been individual Armenian students at Princeton since the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Some were brought through the efforts of American Protestant missionaries. While little is known of their early history, an organized group called the Armenian Students at Princeton was founded in 1977 (yours truly was one of the founding members). The group died out some years later, as members graduated, due to the small overall number of incoming Armenian students at the university.
A new group was founded in 2015 under the current name. Hovnanian said that she and Yengibaryan “are simply continuing the work of our predecessors. Ararat Gocmen [Princeton Class of] ’17, the former leader and rejuvenator of the Princeton Armenian Society, actively engaged students with field trips to venues like the Hovnanian School in Bergen County.”