New student Deacon Alexander Calikyan, who was born in New York and served at the Armenian Church of Holy Martyrs in Bayside, recently graduated from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. The second new student, Deacon Michael Sabounjian, son of the Rev. Fr. Krikor Sabounjian who himself is a graduate of St. Nersess Seminary, is from Massachusetts, where he grew up in his home parish of the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators. He recently graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Minor in Music and French. The third new seminarian is Subdeacon Samuel DeBlois from Massachusetts, who grew up attending Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence, Rhode Island. He recently received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
All three students are enrolled in the joint Master of Divinity Program at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary and St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. In addition to the courses they will take during the academic year, the students will be required to spend their summer months in educational programs. These include studying at one of the hierarchal sees for a summer, participating in a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program during another summer, and working at an Armenian Church or AGBU summer camp for the final summer. Following their graduation, they will spend a full year at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin to complete their studies.
Deacon Gary D. Alexander, the fourth new student, will be working towards his diploma in Armenian Studies on a part-time basis as he continues his employment as the founder and chief operating officer of Velum Health, a health care management company. He will travel to the seminary on a monthly basis, participate in other classes by skype, and study Classical Armenian under the V. Rev. Fr. Krikor Maksoudian in Boston, MA. Dn. Gary has already received his Master of Divinity degree from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA and has completed his CPE requirement.
Recent graduate Dn. Vahe Bagdasarian is interning at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, while graduates Kathryn Ashbahian and Arpi Nakashian will be working at the Eastern Diocese this fall. As the only Armenian seminary in the western world, St. Nersess is committed to preparing priests and lay leaders for the Armenian Church in North America.