THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Ara Babaian.
Ara was elected as a Southern California Super Lawyer from 2015 through 2020, as well as a Rising Star previous to that, both honors given only to a few eligible lawyers in California. He earned his JD in 2001 from Loyola Law School with honors and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley where he double-majored in English Literature and Molecular Cell Biology and minored in Creative Writing.
Professionally, Ara has had the privilege of providing pro bono legal services to various Armenian organizations, including:
- Arekuni Foundation (Syrian-Armenian refugee assistance)
- Armenian Autism Outreach Project (awareness and advocacy regarding autism in the Armenian community)
- Armenian Enough (podcast about life and identity in the Diaspora)
- The Genocide Project (Genocide awareness and photos/interviews with survivors)
- Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (LGBTQ group focusing on wellness and education)
- Equality Armenian (LGBTQ advocacy group focusing on civil rights and marriage equality)
- Armenian Bar Association (bar association for Armenian legal professionals)
- Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (industry group for which Ara gave a talk recently)
Question: What is your life philosophy?
We all came from the stars and we will all return to the stars, so be kind and tolerant to everyone around you, and make the most out of your precious time on this precious Earth.
Question: What is your hope for the future?
There are so many things happening in the world that seem to break us down and separate us. But I think instead they are showing us how connected we are. Coronavirus is demonstrating how truly interconnected we are all over the world, both economically, physically and spiritually. I hope these anxious times teach us to better care for each other and ourselves.
Question: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?
Other than the delicious and healthy food, I love having a deep history to a land and to a culture that goes back thousands of years. Even though I don’t know the names of my ancestors past my grandparents, I know there is a long trail of people who paved the way for my life today. I love having a community that knows me and that I know, both here in the Diaspora and also in the Homeland where I can immediately connect to the locals with whom I share our culture and history. I love being able to focus on a small country that we can have a meaningful opportunity to improve in our own humble ways.
Question: How has the Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?
Probably more than I even know. First of all, I think our history is in my DNA; some things get passed down in this miraculous way. Second, I was born in Iraq, so my and my family’s identity as immigrants is twofold – we were refugees in Baghdad and also here in Los Angeles. In fact, our time in the United States is not that much less than our time was in Iraq. And in this migration, we have held on strongly to our Armenian identity, which for us includes the food, religion, language, history, and cultural values, among many other things.