About Hovig

The Legacy of a Devoted Youth Leader Inspires a New Generation

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The ANCA’s pioneering job placement service – known as the Capital Gateway Program (CGP) – is named in honor of Hovig Apo Saghdejian. Truly a fitting title.

A “game-changer” of a program – one that helps recent Armenian Americans graduates start public policy careers in Washington – named after, Hovig, a remarkable young Armenian – taken from us far too soon – who truly represented the very best of both of the Armenian and American traditions. A proud son of our ancient nation, committed to its rebirth, and, in equal measure, a devoted American, fully engaged in the civic life of the United States.

The Saghdejian family – in the years since Hovig’s tragic death in 2004 – has sustained and strengthened the CGP, creating life-changing opportunities for promising young Armenians – called CGP Fellows. The ANCA has, in Hovig’s name, helped talented Armenian women and men from across America realize their potential – as government officials, public policy experts, lobbyists, and media professionals. We have helped them get a strong start in life, launching a careers of vast promise and potential.

And along the way, they have literally changed the political landscape of Washington, DC, transforming a major world capital once without a meaningful Armenian professional presence into one that now has young, ambitious Armenians working in nearly every aspect of politics and policy making. The seeds the Saghdejian family have planted are already bearing fruit. Their influence and access all they have offered a helping hand will only grow over time, reinforced by new waves of CGP Fellows, filling even more positions of power, respect, and influence.

Job placements made possible through the Saghdejian family’s support include those as legislative assistants in U.S. Senate and House offices, aides to Congressional committees, and officials of the World Bank, U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. Presidential campaigns. Other key placements have been made to think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies; human rights groups like Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Human Rights Campaign; international development agencies such as the National Democratic Institute and Chemonics International; public relations and lobbying firms, like Fleishman-Hillard; consulting companies, such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte, and; media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly and Bloomberg.

As far reaching as its impact – both personally in the lives of our Fellows and politically for our community – the CGP is, at its heart, really very simple. It offers nuts and bolts solutions to the key challenges faced by young Armenians are naturally worried about what it means to move to a new town and look for a professional position in this city’s complex and competitive workplace. The ANCA offers those accepted into our program – following a demanding application process, including interviews and peer-review by former Fellows – three months of free housing, job-search training, professional seminars, and networking opportunities. Perhaps even more importantly, they join ANCA’s network of friends throughout Washington, a support group that includes current and former CGP Fellows.

It is this spirit of solidarity that – perhaps more than anything else – speaks to the beauty of Hovig’s soul. His legacy inspires us to strengthen the personal bonds of young Armenians to one another, even as we – at a more political level – empower a new generation to both realize their own ambitions and fulfill our community’s aspirations.

The ANCA strives, always, to keep Hovig’s fire alive, working hard to meet our practical goals while never forgetting that that – at its heart – our work in his memory is all about the Armenian spirit. The same spirit that has long sustained our ancient nation, inspiring each generation – going back thousands of years – to sacrifice for a better future. So much has changed during the long years of our nation’s journey. We constantly invent – as we should. The CGP represents a great example of our community’s innovation. But our progress rests today, as it always has, on the willingness of Armenians – young and old – to give of ourselves, to serve others, and to sacrifice for our nation. Hovig embodied that timeless spirit, the intangible but absolutely essential force that inspires us to focused, concerted, and effective action. Our survival as Armenians, in many profound ways, depends on our ability of our families to raise, and our community organizations to nurture, the future Hovigs of the world, for, on their shoulders rests the fate of our nation.

Hovig’s Life and Legacy:

Hovig Apo Saghdejian
Hovig Apo Saghdejian

Hovig, a 23-year old community activist from Fresno lost his life in 2004 in a tragic car accident. Hovig’s father Apo, his late mother Rosine, and sister, Nayiri established the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial Fund, the principal of which is held by the ANCA in perpetuity. The annual income the Fund produces is used to support the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program named in Hovig’s memory. Family and friends continue to add to this Fund.

The Saghdejian family, beyond their transformative support for the growth of the CGP in the United States, has also honored Hovig’s legacy in the Armenian homeland. Immediately after Hovig’s passing, they donated a home to the needy residents of the small village of Haykavan, located in a war-ravaged Hadrut region of southern Artsakh. They also built a chapel (madour) in the village of Ayroum, where Hovig worked during his Land and Culture Organization (LCO) campaign in Armenia. This beautiful chapel – a gathering place for the residents of the village – represents the town’s only spiritual center.

Hovig’s sudden and tragic death was not only a great loss for his family, but also for his many friends, and the Armenian American community–in the Central Valley and around the nation. He was an exemplary son, brother, grandson, nephew, and friend, who left a legacy of love for his family and friends, and of selfless devotion to his fellow Armenians and his cultural heritage. Hovig was, fittingly, laid to rest in Fresno’s historic Ararat Masis Cemetery, alongside Armenian national hero Soghomon Tehlirian.

Hovig Apo Saghdejian was born on December 31, 1980 in Fresno, California. He completed his elementary education at the Armenian Community School of Fresno. After graduation from the Armenian school, Hovig attended Kastner Intermediate and later Clovis West High School, where he received his high school diploma, as an Advanced Placement Scholar with Honors.

Early in life, Hovig became a member of the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts, and he joined the ranks of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF). After graduating from Clovis West in 1998, Hovig attended Fresno City College, California State University, Fresno, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis on economics, philosophy and film studies. While attending college, Hovig was active in the Armenian Student’s Association. He also received numerous honors, such as the Armenian Relief Society Merit Scholarship and Foundation West Merit Scholarship.

Hovig had a passion for his Armenian culture that was instilled by his family. As an active member of AYF and Homenetmen, as both a scout and athlete, he contributed to the welfare of the Armenian American community and reinforced his commitment to his Homeland. He visited Armenia with the Land and Culture Organization, and traveled to Beirut, Lebanon with the Hamazkayin Cultural Society to broaden his cultural understanding.

As a devoted son of the Saghdejian family, Hovig lived a life of commitment to the Armenian Cause and his ancient Armenian homeland. He breathed life into the ideals of his youth by working to preserve and reinvent Armenian identity in America, while bringing a sense of optimism to the people of Armenia for a better future. As a volunteer with the Land and Culture organization, Hovig traveled to Armenia during the summer of 2003 to work as a volunteer in Ayroum, developing infrastructure and self-sustainability for the impoverished population of this village.

Beyond the value of the hard work that contributed significantly to the well being of the villagers, Hovig’s efforts helped bring hope to all he came in contact with that the future held better things for the people of Armenia. Commenting on his time in Ayroum, in a testimonial on the Land and Culture website, Hovig explained that, “I know that when I reflect back on this experience I will feel ecstatic about the work we accomplished, the things we saw, and the bonds we forged.”

Hovig was a leader in the American civic arena as well, working with the local ANCA chapter, and cooperating with Congressman George Radanovich and State Assemblymember Steve Samuelian on a broad array of campaign and public policy projects. He volunteered his spare time to help his mother at the Adult Day Care Center, and to assist his father with the family business – all reflections of his devotion to his family, his commitment to his community, and his dedication to the future of the Armenian nation.