I contribute to this scholarship fund, as well as AGBU’s Syrian-Armenian Relief Fund, because, like my grandfather and father, I believe in the importance of education and assisting those in need.
Dr. Levon Kurkjian firmly believed in the power of education to transform lives. He put family first as well, which is why his three children; grandson Chris; and cousin Roupen, all ensured that his memory and values would live on through an AGBU memorial fund providing scholarships. Chris Kurkjian recalls that Dr. Kurkjian, who was born in Arapkir in 1894, was described to him as “someone committed to his profession of medicine and helping those less fortunate.”
During the Armenian Genocide, Dr. Kurkjian was drafted by the Turks to work as an army doctor. One day in the port city of Adana, a man visiting the hospital was so impressed by Dr. Kurkjian that he invited him to his home to meet his daughter, Fortunée Yalenezian. The match was a success, and the couple boarded a refugee boat with Fortunée’s family, where the captain married them. Denied entry in Alexandria and Beirut, they finally disembarked in Haifa, Palestine, thanks to a friend’s connection. There, Dr. Kurkjian happened to run into a British commanding officer he knew from Damascus, who offered him a job as a doctor in Baghdad. While their first child, Hrand, was born in Haifa, Sita and her other brother, Ara, were born in Iraq.