Student gains knowledge and learns a life lesson

  Thursday, December 10, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Student gains knowledge and learns a life lesson

Djavan Hairabedian, who will graduate Friday with dual majors in plastics engineering technology and polymer chemistry, has learned a lot of things in his years at Pittsburg State University.

As a student in both plastics engineering technology and polymer chemistry, he has amassed the scientific and technical knowledge required for both degree programs. At Pitt State, he discovered a love of chemistry and as a researcher in the Kansas Polymer Research Center, he worked with and learned from experienced and highly regarded polymer chemists.

But perhaps one of the most significant things Hairabedian learned was about the importance of finishing things.

“I didn’t do well in school,” Hairabedian said. “I dropped out of high school and got a GED.”

For a few years, Hairabedian, who grew up in Independence, Mo., worked for a plastics manufacturing company.

“Basically, I did technician work,” Hairabedian said. “But I wanted more.”

Hairabedian came to PSU for the university’s highly regarded Plastics Engineering Technology Program. It was in chemistry classes required for his course of study in plastics engineering technology, that Hairabedian discovered a love for chemistry.

“In the first weeks of Chem I, was actually failing,” Hairabedian said, “but something just clicked and I fell in love with chemistry.”

Through a variety of chemistry classes, Hairabedian demonstrated his facility for the subject and soon added the university’s bachelor’s of science degree in polymer chemistry program to his plastics engineering technology major.

Hairabedian was also hired to do research at PSU’s Kansas Polymer Research Center, where he worked with a team of scientists who are exploring and developing new applications for polymers.

“It’s been exciting,” Hairabedian said. “I’ve been involved in several major projects concerning epoxies and polyurethanes.”

Paths to success often have bumps and for Hairabedian, those were times when he thought about giving up. In fact, he did drop out of classes at one point, but continued to work on research at the KPRC.

Hairabedian seemed to have given up on himself, but the faculty and researchers around him refused to do so.

Hairabedian said that although his teachers said they were disappointed in him, they didn’t send him away, instead offering encouragement and advice.

“When I dropped out,” Hairabedian said, “Dr. (Mihail) Ionescu said simply, ‘It’s good to finish things.’ It was such a simple statement, but thought about that every day.”

Soon, Hairabedian decided he needed to finish things. He resumed his studies, did well and on Friday, Dec. 11, will graduate with two impressive degrees.

Andy Myers, executive director of the KPRC, said Hairabedian’s story illustrates something that he believes is part of the character of the campus.

“I think there's a spirit here at PSU that sees the potential in students,” Myers said. “We saw that Djavan had significant potential that we thought could best be realized by exposure to research and by reinforcing the value of what he learned in the classroom. I'm sure there are a number of faculty and staff who helped Djavan along the way, but I think it's amazing that he's getting ready to graduate with two degrees when, at one time a few years ago, we were having a discussion about just staying in school.”

Hairabedian said it was the confidence his instructors had in him that inspired him to complete his degrees.

“I feel like my whole life I’ve been overlooked by people,” Hairabedian said, “but my instructors wanted me to succeed and that made the difference.”



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