Our greatest pleasure in life is watching our children and grandchildren grow. We adore them and hope they continue our Armenian traditions—maintaining strong familial ties, keeping our heritage and culture alive, and supporting worthy causes.
Avedis Movsesian says education can transform people’s lives and he should know. He came from meager means in Iraq, but achieved the classic immigrant story of triumph—one that continues to inspire his grown children, Ara and Lisa. Like their father, they feel a desire and duty to ensure that future generations of Armenians with equal determination and drive realize their dreams.
They often ask how he found success. He stresses that hard work and a loving, supportive family were the foundation. Then came perseverance and the belief to make something of himself. “With God’s blessings and my wife, Bea, beside me, good fortune was achieved,” he adds. It was no surprise, then, that when Avedis established an endowment fund at AGBU in support of scholarships, his children followed suit and established additional endowments, as well.
While Avedis was raised in a close-knit Armenian community and attended Armenian schools during most of his formative years, the family struggled financially. His mother and father, who grew up in Turkey, were both orphan survivors of the Armenian Genocide. One day Avedis’ mother discovered that her uncle was alive in Baghdad, so they relocated as a couple to start their family next to their sole relative.
When Avedis and his brother, Karekin, graduated from high school, they were concerned that they would be drafted into the Iraqi army. It was the 1960’s and political instability had overtaken the country. Not feeling safe as Christians, their parents urged them to move to the United States.
Through fortitude and grit, Avedis received a full scholarship after his first year at Wisconsin State University and graduated in 1969. Fortune smiled twice on him that year; the second time was the night he went to an Armenian dance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. He remembers seeing Bea there and just knowing that she was the one. Bea (née Hasmig Esegelian) was born in New York City to parents who emigrated from Greece. The couple wed two years later. Avedis went on to earn his MBA in 1972, a degree that opened many doors to success.
“Our greatest pleasure in life is watching our children and grandchildren grow. We adore them and hope they continue our Armenian traditions—maintaining strong familial ties, keeping our heritage and culture alive, and supporting worthy causes,” says Avedis.
With an economics degree from Rutgers University, Avedis and Bea’s son Ara has been working as a trader at JP Morgan Chase for over two decades. He has four children with his wife, Danielle Stentella, and acknowledges, “My job as a parent now is to make sure my children know their past and appreciate their identity.”
“Danielle and I are humbled by the sacrifices my father made to achieve his goals, and know how passionate he is about education. Once I read the materials about AGBU’s scholarship programs, it made all the sense in the world to give this gift,” says Ara about establishing the Ara and Danielle Movsesian Endowment in support of the AGBU Scholarship Program.
Avedis and Bea’s daughter Lisa, married to Jonathan Ramos, also earned an undergraduate at Rutgers, and went on to a Master’s Degree at Seton Hall University. Currently, she works at TG Therapeutics (a healthcare company) and says, “My parents are the most generous, kind and inspiring people I know; my mom continues to lead by example by volunteering countless hours at our Armenian church.” Lisa has committed to teaching their three children the Armenian language, to which she feels a strong connection.
She adds, “Furthering the education of Armenian students is critical if we want to continue to build a better world, so we agreed wholeheartedly with my parents’ suggestion to create the Jon and Lisa Ramos Endowment in support of the AGBU Scholarship Program and the AGBU Humanitarian Relief Fund.”
Avedis and Bea, already long-time AGBU donors, established the Avedis and Beatrice Movsesian Endowment in support of the AGBU Scholarship Program in 2020. He adds, “My decision to provide funding for education within AGBU was influenced by a co-worker who believed strongly in the ‘miracle’ of education—a powerful tool to produce leaders within our community and the world at large.”