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Miami Armenian Student Clubs Bleed Red, Blue, and Orange

UM-FIU ASA Mtg_crop

Gevorg Shahbazyan, President, FIU-AASO; Mercedes Gechidjian, President, UM-ASA; Todd Avedian, NOVA; Mishela Gevorkian, UM-ASA; Arman Shahbazyan, FIU-AASO; and Guadalupe Gechidjian, UM-ASA. Photograph credit Ashot Mamyan.

By Mercedes Gechidjian
FLArmenians Miami Contributor

Hollywood, FL— On Sunday, September 20, several representatives of the Armenian Student Association (ASA) of the University of Miami (UM), the Armenian American Student Organization (AASO) of Florida International University (FIU), and NOVA Southeastern University, had the opportunity to meet at the Armenian Independence Day picnic hosted by St. Mary Armenian Church.

Following Church service, and after indulging in delicious kebabs and barbecued meats prepared by the St. Mary Men’s Club, the UM-ASA and FIU-AASO members met and discussed future plans, potential for joint events, and aspirations for their clubs this academic year and beyond. Ms. Mercedes Gechidjian, President of the UM-ASA, and Florida Armenians Broward County Chair Gevorg Shahbazyan, also President of FIU-AASO, discussed the idea of cooperation between the two clubs to bring awareness of Armenian life and culture in Miami.

However, it was not just a business meeting for the members of the Armenian clubs. Social events such as joint dinners, beach days, and movie nights were also explored. “I think that by strengthening our friendship and planning ‘non-business’ hang outs with FIU-AASO we will be able to work as a family,” said Mishela Gevorkian, a graduate student at the University of Miami and member of the UM-ASA. Arman Shahbazyan, an active member of FIU-AASO, was extremely happy to meet more young Armenians in South Florida. “Living in Miami, it’s a little hard given the size of our community here. So when you have the opportunity to meet new Armenians, you just become happy. We had a very productive day and I’m looking forward to future joint activities,” said Shahbazyan.

Both clubs are relatively new but, since their establishment, have caught the attention of their respective student bodies and Armenian communities around the world. It is wonderful to see the next generation of Florida Armenians promoting our culture, our traditions, and our language amid their peers, as they help grow and expand the Armenian American community in South Florida.


Armenian American Baseball Players Make a Big Impact on the Road to the College World Series

By Grant Pakhtigian
FLArmenians Sports Contributor

George Iskenderian

George Iskenderian

Last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Baseball World Series (CWS) took place in Omaha, Nebraska with the country’s top teams competing for the title of national champion. This summertime tradition in America’s heartland caps off the season for the young athletes looking to make a name for themselves as they seek to go pro. In the run up to the CWS, two Armenian American baseball players undertook their mission for the early summer slate in a series of 3-game playoffs to mete out the NCAA crown.

Florida college teams are among the finest in the nation as Florida State University (FSU), University of Florida (UF), and University of Miami (UM) all ranked in the top 25 in the 2014-15 season.

This year, University of Miami second baseman George Iskenderian became only the second Miami player ever to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season batting title. He finished the regular season with a .391 batting average and started all 55 games. Iskenderian was recognized with first-team awards for another great year, originally playing short-stop before moving over to second base. Last year, he hit .373 with 23 RBIs in 40/55 games.

A junior college transfer and native of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Iskenderian helped make UM one of the most potent lineups in all of college baseball. During the CWS he hit .300 and went two for four in the season ending game against UF. UM took 6th place in the CWS, an admirable accomplishment.

Although the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him last year he decided to stay in Coral Gables to complete his senior year at the “U.” In the 2015 draft, Iskenderian was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round (211th overall).

James Kaprielian

James Kaprielian

In addition to our own college baseball star, another young Armenian American athlete made a name for himself this season. James Kaprielian, a pitcher for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has shown his Bruins how pitching with numerous methods can bring his team victories along the path. He had one of the greatest pitching careers ever recorded by a Bruin. He recorded the fifth lowest ERA in program history, with sixth most strikeouts of all-time. Kaprielian was All-Pac-12 first team designee in this his last season.

Although UCLA didn’t make it to the CWS finals, Kaprielian received good news last month when he was the top pick of the New York Yankees (16th overall) in the 2015 MLB draft. The Yankees consider him very coachable and a good fit for their pitching roster, which is a big plus for teams who want someone they can trust for the betterment of the franchise. Kaprielian has had a challenging year and for him to work his way up to a top prospect in major league baseball is quite a feat.