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    Victoria Magzanian (1906-1988) & Samuel Magzanian (1888-1986
    Victoria Magzanian (1906-1988) & Samuel Magzanian (1888-1986
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    Victoria Magzanian (1906-1988) & Samuel Magzanian (1888-1986)

Education at the Forefront

Samuel and Victoria Magzanians

Our parents would have sacrificed everything for their daughters’ education. It is in this spirit that we are proud to make a donation to the AGBU Scholarship Fund to continue their legacy.

For Samuel Magzanian, there was nothing more important than the education of his daughters. Today, when women represent more than half of university graduates, this inclination might not seem shocking, but in the 1930s in the small village of Bitias in Musa Dagh, where he and his wife Victoria raised their two daughters, Alberta and Anna, Samuel’s philosophy was an anomaly.

Samuel knew the importance of education, especially for young women. His own mother, an orphan from Bitias, attended the American Girls’ Seminary in Aintab in the 1880s and taught grammar school after she graduated. She married and raised seven sons whom she instilled with a similar love of learning. Although Samuel did not have advanced schooling of his own, he was not only concerned with the education of his own children, but with all the children in the village. In 1938, the Armenian Evangelical School Committee saw the need for another teacher at their local school and appealed to AGBU for ten gold pounds to cover the costs. AGBU obliged on the condition that Samuel and the committee members establish an AGBU chapter in Bitias.

“During the winter of 1938, our father attended meetings several times a week, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. The committee succeeded in founding a new AGBU chapter in Bitias and our father became a founding member and advisor. Unfortunately, the chapter was short lived, since no Armenians remained in Bitias after 1939,” said Samuel’s daughter, Alberta.

At the brink of World War II, the region of Musa Dagh was ceded to Turkey. Having seen the genocide in 1915, the Armenians of Musa Dagh felt threatened by Turkish rule and, in the summer of 1939, the French evacuated the Armenians of Bitias as well as the nearby villages of Yohun Oluk, Kheder Bey, Kabusia and Haji Babibli. Most of the Armenians of Bitias went to Anjar, Lebanon, but the Magzanian family settled in Aleppo where another daughter, Louisa, was born. Eventually, the family immigrated to the United States.

The Magzanians left their native village behind, but they carried with them a commitment to education that sustained them throughout their lives. “Our parents would have sacrificed everything for their daughters’ education. It is in this spirit that we are proud to make a donation to the AGBU Scholarship Fund to continue the legacy of our parents,” said Alberta.

The Magzanians’ donation will go to support tens of thousands of promising young Armenian students enrolled at some of the world’s top-ranked universities in nearly 40 countries. Did your family’s devotion to education help you become the person you are today? Follow the Magzanians’ lead and make a donation to the AGBU Scholarship Fund in honor of your family. Find out how you can make your mark on Armenian students and send us an email at giving@agbu.org.

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June 05, 2015