Dr. Michael G. Mensoian. Honorable, dedicated, kind, knowledgeable, humble and teacher. This is how I will remember Dr. Mensoian. Even now, I cannot bring myself to simply call him Michael, although every time I saw him, he would insist. It is almost the 40th day remembrance, or karasoonk, for this man who entered my life when I was 18 years old, unimaginable after 40 years of his presence whether distant or in close proximity.
I joined the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA) when I was a high school senior in 1979 and that is when I met Dr. Mensoian. Immediately I was awestruck. After all, he was on the organization’s Board of Trustees, and from what I could see, he commanded great respect from all who knew him. I discovered that he was a professor which immediately placed him in the role of teacher and mentor for me. And this continued until the last time I saw him at the Hairenik building where I had just started as editor of the Weekly.
Dr. Mensoian directly influenced my willingness to serve in any leadership role with the ASA, both locally with the Providence branch, and later in life as a Board member. His gentle encouragement and unending belief in my abilities, even when I doubted myself and succumbed to my insecurities as a young woman, led me to spread my wings knowing that he would be there to guide me and catch me if I stumbled…and I did. And of course, he did. Dr. Mensoian’s prodding, along with a few others, led me to accept the position as public relations director for the ASA, a job that honed skills acquired as an undergraduate and preceded career opportunities that otherwise would have been left unrealized.
Within the last decade, my organizational journey included a tenure on the Central Executive Board (CEB) of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), a daunting role that challenged me in many ways, some anticipated and others unexpected. And there was Dr. Mensoian, an avid supporter and member of the ARS, arriving at the Hairenik during my first CEB meeting, specifically seeking me out to encourage me in this new role and of course to gently and firmly remind me of the importance of the ARS to our community and homeland. After that, how could I not rise to the challenge?
Finally, last fall I began at this venerable newspaper, an opportunity I never expected yet always envisioned. Once again, Dr. Mensoian walked through the door filling my heart with joy. Forty years after our first meeting, the teacher who guided me through some of the most daunting tasks through the decades, was here again, enveloping me with a warm hug of support and smiling in his kind, understanding way. Throughout the years, I would see Dr. Mensoian at various events, and we would reconnect as though time stood still. I avidly read his articles in the Weekly whenever possible, as always seeking and admiring his wisdom and perspective. Perhaps selfishly, I was eagerly anticipating office chats, maybe over a cup of coffee or two, discussing the issues of the day and continuing to ask his guidance and opinion. Now, like so many others, I grieve for the man who will forever remain the Dr. Mensoian of my youth.