An estimated 1.5 million Armenian Americans call the United States their home with the majority residing in California. Some of them, including the 35th Governor of California, George Deukmejian, have left a mark in American history.
The Armenian community has lots of prominent musicians, writers, filmmakers, singers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. We wish to introduce you to four prominent Californians of Armenian descent that have achieved great heights in their respective fields of medicine, politics, sports, and music.
Did you know that most Armenians have no trouble speaking at least three languages, such as Armenian, English, and Russian, despite the fact that all those belong to completely different language families. This incredibly talented and resourceful nation is famous for its hospitality and known to have some of the best food traditions in the former Soviet Union. If someday you get to visit an Armenian family, get ready to eat, a lot. Unexpectedly a lot!
Centuries ago Armenia was a powerful empire, stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The nation took a great loss during a tragic Genocide of 1915, when an estimated 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians were killed. The tragedy made millions of Armenians leave their homeland and spread all over the world. Today there are about 2 million Armenians in Armenia and about 8 million living all over the world, including the largest communities in the United States, Russia, France, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria.
Sergey Mahtesyan, DDS
Fine Touch Dental
Dr. Sergey Mahtesyan, a General Dentist with a wide scope of practice in Oral Surgery, is regarded as one of the best specialists in the field in Sacramento. He heads a rapidly expanding dental practice and constantly works on advancing the procedures he offers. He attrobutes a big part of his success to inspiration and help from his fellow members of the Armenian American community.
“Many oral surgery procedures and techniques used today were invented by a fellow Armenian, Dr. Varazdat Kazanjian, a graduate of Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He is regarded as the father of modern maxillofacial and plastic surgery. It’s a thing of great pride for me to be a part of a nation that has given to the world numerous exceptional people like Dr. Kazanjian.“
Dr. Mahtesyan graduated from Yerevan State Medical University, Faculty of Dentistry and Oral Medicine, at the age of 21. He soon moved to the US and had to face many hardships of being an immigrant. “I went through it all, a tough immigration process to become a US citizen, odd jobs, you name it,” recalls Sergey.
His goal was to practice his profession in the US, which meant going through Dental School all over again. He started in NYU College of Dentistry and later transferred to University of Colorado, Denver School of Dental Medicine, from which he graduated with an honorary award for Excellence in Oral Surgery.
Dr. Mahtesyan practiced in Boston and Los Angeles before starting his practice in Sacramento. The focus of the practice is difficult full mouth reconstruction cases, which are handeled with relative ease using the latest dental technologies. What really sets Dr. Mahtesyan and his practice apart, is a procedure called all-on-4-teeth in a day, which was invented by Portuguese dentist Paulo Malo. It allows edentoulous patients to get a full set of non-removable teeth anchored on 4 implants in a single day. Dr. Mahtesyan was trained to perform the procedure by Dr. Paulo Malo himself in Lisbon, Portugal. “It’s like miracle to be able to give a patient a full arch of teeth in one procedure. It changes the patient’s life in a single day.”
Member Of The California State Assembly
Katcho Achadjian represents the 35th Assembly District in the California State Legislature, which includes the communities of Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Maria.
In 1971, Katcho came to California to complete his education. Civil War that broke out in Lebanon at the time prevented Katcho from going back home. He stayed in the US, graduated from college, and pursued the American Dream.
“I have always been attracted to Western education and civilization,” said Mr. Achadjian, “In fact, I was very proud of the United States as I watched Apollo 11 and its crew landing on the moon. I was blessed with a chance to come to the states to receive a quality education. I accomplished my goal when I graduated from Cal Poly in June of 1976. At that time, Civil War was ravaging Lebanon. Going home was not an option for me.”
So Katcho decided to stay in the US. He worked at a gas station to put himself through college. Upon graduation, he bought out that very gas station by getting a small business loan. A few years later, he got married to his wife Araxie, also an immigrant from Lebanon.
Today, after 45 years of living in the US, Mr. Achadjian represents the people of the Central Coast as both a County Supervisor and a State Assembly Member. Katcho and Araxie, are striving to keep Armenian traditions alive in their family. Their son, Hratch, and daughter, Nyri, both speak Armenian and have traveled to Armenia before. The Achadjians are proud of their heritage and preserve their traditions through the following three pillars: food, church and family.
Amurai (AKA Manvel Ter-Pogosyan)
Music Producer, Songwriter, DJ
Manvel is an internationally acclaimed songwriter, music producer, and DJ specializing in European electronic and Trans genres. Manvel had been on multiple world tours, DJ-ing large concerts and collaborating with major European dance record labels.
Manvel was born in Armenia and moved to the US at the early age of four. He had a passion for music and released his first music record on vinyl when he was only 18. “Music provides me an escape from the world and helps me explore who I am,” says Amurai. “It also provide me with the way to share my thoughts and feeling with others.”
Manvel writes and produces music, specializing in European electronic genre. He travels with shows all over the world, working with major record labels and legendary electro dance musicians, such as the international superstar and his childhood idol, German electro dance producer, ATB.
“Lately I’ve been very interested in collaborating with artists from Armenia. There is so much talent there. I want to help further develop the music industry in my country of birth. I’m currently working with Lucy (Lusine Aghabekyan), the winner of American Idol equivalent in Armenia. I also plan to help young people here, in California, develop their music production skills. I use my studio to give music production lessons to talented and driven individuals, helping them further their musical journey.”
World Boxing Champion
Vakhtang “Vic” Darchinyan is a former three-division world champion, having won eight titles in three different weight categories. He has held the IBF flyweight title, as well as the undisputed WBA (World Boxing Association), WBC (The World Boxing Council) and IBF super flyweight titles. He has also captured a record four IBO (The International Boxing Organization) titles in three weight classes.
Darchinyan is a boxer with a unique fighting style. He became the first ethnic Armenian to capture a world title when he defeated IBF flyweight champion, previously undefeated, Irene Pacheco of Colombia, by an eleventh round TKO.
Vic was born in Armenia. He wanted to become a professional boxer ever since he could remember. He was around five years old when he got a dream of winning a world championship. He began boxing at the age of eight , training in Vanadzor, a region of Armenia where boxing was extremely popular. Vic competed for Armenia in many different countries, including the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000.
Vick won eight major titles in three different weight categories. His glorious victory over previously undefeated IBF flyweight champion, Irene Pacheco, became a milestone of his career.
Vic currently resides in the US and Australia. US claims most of his professional engagements while Australia is a home to his family. Vic has two sons, eight and two years old. He strives to teach his boys Armenian language and traditions. “I won many championships for the US while Australia became my second home. However, I consider myself an Armenian. My country is always in my heart and I use any chance I get to go back and visit.”