Top 5 Famous Armenians

Top 5 Famous Armenians

As Armenia celebrates 24 years of independence, take a look at notable Armenians in the diaspora.

On September 21, 11 million Armenians around the world celebrated Armenian independence day. Situated in the Caucasus region, flanked by Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia is a tiny nation with a lengthy history dating back to biblical times — according to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia currently located in Turkey. After 600 years of nearly continuous foreign occupation, beginning with the Ottomans in the early 16th century, the Republic of Armenia was finally established in 1991, upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of the unique anomalies about the country is the fact that it is home to only a third of the world’s Armenians. That leaves 8 million scattered around the globe, many of whom were forced to leave the region as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Like countless other diaspora communities, Armenians have left their mark in their adoptive homes. In honor of 24 years of independence, I’ve compiled a list of famous Armenians you might not have known were Armenian.

1. Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)

Born near Tiflis, Georgia, Aram Khachaturian became one of the most popular and successful composers to emerge from the Soviet Union. A contemporary of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, he was influenced by traditional Armenian folk music, incorporating oriental elements into his pieces. He is best known for his scores to the ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus, the former which features the famous “Sabre Dance.”

2. Raymond Damadian (1936-present)

The next time you have to undergo an MRI scan (which hopefully is not anytime soon!), you have Armenian-American physician Raymond Damadian to thank. He first performed the procedure in 1977, in order to diagnose cancer in a human being. Damadian was the recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, as “the man who invented the MRI scanner.” He was also recognized by the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia, where he received the Bower Award in Business Leadership.

3. System of a Down

All four of this Grammy Awarding-winning rock band’s members - Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan - are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Three of System’s five studio albums have debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and they have been nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning “Best Hard Rock Performance” in 2006 for their song “BYOB.” Earlier this year, System embarked on their “Wake Up the Souls” tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and raise awareness about ongoing genocides worldwide.

4. Charles Aznavour (1924-present)

The French-Armenian singer, affectionately known as France’s very own Frank Sinatra, has written over 1200 songs, sung in eight languages, and sold over 180 million records. He was named “Entertainer of the Century” in 1998 by CNN and readers of Time Online, a title he won against the likes of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. At 91, he is still going strong, involving himself in French, Armenian, and international politics. He was named French ambassador-at-large to Armenia, and, in 2009, Aznavour agreed to hold the office of Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland.

5. Andre Agassi (1970-present)

“The Punisher.” Eight-time Grand Slam champion. 1996 Olympic gold medalist. All of these describe retired professional tennis player Andre Agassi, the man the BBC identified as “perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” Agassi, who is of Armenian heritage on his father’s side, was one of the most dominant players on the court from the early-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. Nowadays, he focuses his energy on providing educational opportunities and activities to at-risk children in southern Nevada through the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, founded in 1994.

*6. Kardashian Family (Special Mention)

America’s “royal family.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. As much as it pains me to associate the Kardashians with the likes of Khachaturian and Damadian, this family has been instrumental in raising awareness about Armenia and Armenian issues among the American public. From Kim and Khloe’s trip to Armenia in April — which premiered this week on E! — to their tweets every April commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the Kardashians have managed, if nothing else, to educate their fans (and critics) about a country which does not get enough media coverage.

Cover Image Credit: City.1-Themes

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.

I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Short Story: Don't

Part I


The irony wasn't lost on her as she stood there. Her reflection was one she didn't recognize. Wild eyes traced the smudged words she'd written on the mirror and her throat constricted. Her mind was a flurry of motion as she stood motionless, daring not move should the reverie be broken.

It had all started a week ago. No, her mind screamed, stop lying.

She went back further.

It had been early fall, just last year, the first time they saw each other. She remembered the brisk autumn air tickling her ears as crimson leaves whispered past. Her favorite season had come early that year, and she was regularly late to class just to stroll past the maple groves on campus. Her professor rarely gave her a second, irritated look.

That all changed when she wasn't the only one running late.

They'd rounded opposite corners simultaneously, an unnerving mirror that had surprised them both. She'd recovered much quicker than him and entered the tiny computer lab with his shadow at her heels.

"Ms. Swift, Mr. Tanner," their instructor sounded peeved, "I trust you're both late for good reasons?"

She'd attempted to avoid his gaze as she slid into her regular seat. He'd turned on his heals, "I had a flat, sorry 'bout that." He shrugged broad shoulders.

The instructor pinned him with narrow eyes, "And you, Ms. Swift? Tree gazing again?"

She didn't have a reply, at least not an intelligent one. "I, erm, yes, I'm sorry. I lost track of time."

He wasn't amused as he impatiently began rolling up his sleeves, "Until you both learn respect for other people's time and energy, I must ask you to leave."

She'd been blind-sided. In all honesty, there hadn't been a day in the semester where she hadn't been at least 5 seconds late. "But, Mr. Sta-"

"Go, Kalei." He cut her off, "And you too Devon."

Fury mixed with sheer embarrassment had made her cheeks redden as she stomped from the room; she had almost felt the eyes prying into the back of her head as she left. The guy named Devon followed close behind her.

The psyche building's halls had been quiet as they emerged together and she tried to split away from him. She'd been surprised when a hand had grasped her forearm, and she turned. Devon filled her field of vision, a crooked smile splayed across his lips.

"Hey, sorry about that." he ran a hand through dark, curly hair, "I didn't mean to get you tossed out."

She blinked once, "I had it coming, don't worry about it." She turned to leave and was surprised when he fell in step beside her.

"So, uh, I know your name but not much else..other than you like trees."

"It's not the trees," she rolled her eyes, "the colors are what make them."

"Make them what?"

"Special." the word came out before she could think.

"I don't know many people who would be late to class because of trees," he laughed shortly, "I guess it takes a special person."

She'd cast him a sideways glance before slinking away, "Guess so. See you later."

Though it was just a pleasantry, he'd taken it seriously, little did she know.

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