Pushing Forward Through Grief: Greta Sargsyan’s Heartbreak & Healing

Greta Sargsyan, BAEC ‘24, AIWA San Francisco: Tamara Hovhannisyan Scholarship Recipient

In war, there is much loss. The fallen souls depart us, but they leave us behind to a life stricken with grief, longing for the past, clutching hard to the memories in our mind until they fade and we can no longer recover them. 

In the 2020 Artsakh War, many young men perished—they left behind parents, siblings, wives, children, and many other loved ones. For AUA student Greta Sargsyan, it was the young man she loved, Vazgen Galstyan, whom she lost. Vazgen was 18 years old and had been serving in the army for merely two months when the war began. During the war, Greta received one phone call from him, on October 1, 2020—after that, no communication. She searched and tried to make contact to no avail. Months later, on December 17, 2020, his body was found. 

Vazgen Galstyan

Heartbroken, Greta dealt with the emotional blow of losing the man she loved and she turned to writing as an escape from the tragedy surrounding her. 

Greta Sargsyan’s book, “The Hello was Guilty” (Բարեւն էր մեղավոր)

Greta ended up writing a book, “The Hello was Guilty” (Բարեւն էր մեղավոր), about their love story, dedicated to the memory of Vazgen. All proceeds from the sales went to the Vazgen Galstyan Scientific-Education-Cultural Foundation, established by Vazgen’s parents in an effort to keep his memory alive. Greta helps lead the foundation, which aims to promote the development of talented young people in the fields of education, science, and culture.

Today, Greta looks forward to her future at AUA where she studies English and Communications. “Studying at AUA was one of my dreams, and I achieved it by receiving the chance of being so much more confident in myself and the future opportunities that the University will create for me.” She expresses gratitude for the AIWA San Francisco: Tamara Hovhannisyan Scholarship, which provided her with the means to obtain an education without worrying about the expense. She describes the support as an investment made into her future, for which she will forever be grateful. 

Dr. Tamara Hovhannisyan is an established artist, writer, educator, and owner of the largest art gallery in the city of Carmel, California. She was born in Yerevan, Armenia, where she began to write and teach, earning her master’s degree in Language and Literature from Yerevan State University, and later her Ph.D in Philology from the National Academy of Science of the Republic of Armenia – Institute of Literature. 

Dr. Tamara Hovhannisyan

When she moved to the United States, she joined the Monterey Institute of International Studies as a curriculum writer. Her passion for arts and culture enabled her to open a fine arts gallery, for which she was later honored as one of the most influential people in the art business. In addition, she is also a talented writer, having written over 3,500 pages of poetry, multiple literary publications, and countless art articles, including ones in her own virtual magazine, The Art of Collecting. 

Dr. Hovhannisyan has received many awards and accolades for the work she has done, and has also earned a place on the advising committee to the Ministry of the Armenian Diaspora, where she advises on different issues and supports the connection between the Armenian diaspora and her homeland. As an advocate for education, she is a valued member of the community and has contributed much to the betterment of the Armenian people and the world in general. “I am a woman of the world, but it has been my connection with my ancestral land that makes me who I am,” she has said before. In recognition of all she has done, the Armenian International Women’s Association – San Francisco affiliate established a scholarship at AUA in Tamara Hovhannisyan’s name. 

“Tamara Hovhanissyan represents an incredible bright light in our global Armenian community. As a leader, poet, author, business owner, and art curator, she is dedicated to using art as a medium to connect and understand our world during times of conflict and celebration, joy and pain, using these realities as opportunities to spread love, creativity, and connection. It is our honor to establish a scholarship at AUA in Tamara’s name, to continue to support the importance of education and art,” says Christine Soussa, former AIWA-SF President, who also serves on the AIWA Global Board of Directors.
President of the San Francisco affiliate, Laura Dirtadian, adds, “For many diasporan Armenians, watching and trying everything in our power to aid our country and people during the 2020 Artsakh War was heartbreaking, but propelled many of us to take action. Learning about Greta and her loss, which drove her to write the most beautiful story, was the perfect match, and we hope and pray that she knows that she has the support of her fellow Armenian sisters.”
AUA is grateful for the support of AIWA-SF, and optimistic for the future of Greta Sargsyan and all the young men and women who were affected by the 2020 Artsakh War.