Boghos and Shoghakat Kalaidjian lived their lives and raised their children based on the bedrock of sound advice. Berj Kalaidjian recalls of his father, “Money will come and go, but knowledge will always stay and transform an individual’s life.” When Berj decided to memorialize his parents, he imagined the many ways one leaves a family legacy.
“Although my parents never had the opportunity to acquire higher education, they taught me the importance of education,” says Berj. With this cornerstone belief as impetus, Berj embraced the chance to immortalize his parents as one of the 100 Pillars of AUA. “Now that they are no longer around, I see AUA as a meaningful place where their legacy will last.”
Awash with emotion, Berj tells a tale of his father’s flight from the Armenian Genocide, as one of the few survivors from the city of Marash. Finding sanctuary in Jerusalem, Boghos Kalaidjian wrote an article printed in a Damascus newspaper, eventually reuniting him with his father, whom, he later learned to be the only other family member to survive.
Boghos met his soul-mate, Shoghakat; they married and raised four children together. The Kalaidjian family created a home environment where they met their children’s needs with empathy & compassion and where they invested in their children’s educations as a cornerstone in the foundation of a productive, meaningful life.
With his parents championing scholarship, integrity, and intellectual freedom — it is no surprise that Berj and his siblings all earned their graduate degrees, and as professionals, retained their familial values, guiding the trajectory of their lives.
“My father was a joyful character, not because he had a life that was problem free, but he lost so much earlier that he cherished everything he was able to gain later on, remembers Berj. “My father’s incredible advice to always stay true to our conscience and his ability to use humor and my mother’s lessons on what is right and wrong and the care for each other; the sacrifices they made for their children – these are the things I carry with me and honor in their memory.”
When you meet Berj and appreciate him not just as a philanthropist, but as a son, a brother, and even a student – then you can understand the meaning behind honoring his parents as one of the 100 Pillars of AUA. Boghos & Shoghakat gave Berj the gift of education. This gift profoundly shaped Berj’s life and is why he is committed to supporting AUA’s mission to advance the development of Armenia through teaching and scholarship, and by embracing creativity, integrity, and community service.