Harvard Changed My Life
Warren Markarian ’54, MBA ’61
As a loyal donor and reunion volunteer, Warren Markarian ’54, MBA ’61 was already an avid supporter of Harvard. He turned to gift planning because he wanted to do more.
“I like to say that everything good I ever did, I did because of Harvard,” says Markarian, a first-generation college student from Manchester, New Hampshire.
In gratitude, he’s been giving outright gifts throughout the years. When his wife Mary passed away, Markarian felt he needed to reassess his priorities. “I had given to Harvard what I thought I was able, but then wondered: were there other ways I could give?”
He consulted the Office of Gift Planning and decided on a number of options, including a few pooled income funds and a bequest provision. Markarian also established several charitable gift annuities as a way to provide support for Harvard and income for himself.
Gift annuities offer secure, fixed payments for life. “Not only do they help my long-term goals, but in the short run, it’s income that I can use,” says Markarian.
He finds it especially gratifying that these gifts will help students who are now where he was. Markarian was a scholarship student, the son of immigrants from Armenia. Though his parents had very little formal education, they wanted their three children to go to college and become useful citizens.
“Harvard changed my life and I want to use my resources to help the lives of others,” he says.
Harvard provided this foundation for Markarian. “It was such a developmental milestone. I established a useful set of values at Harvard that have guided me throughout my life—in particular, how to interact with my peers and build strong relationships,” he says.
He wants to help provide the same experience to other scholarship students. Through his planned gifts, he’s established the Warren Markarian Undergraduate Scholarship Fund and has even inspired many of his classmates to support his effort.
“Harvard is at the core of my giving,” he says. “What I always tell people who are able, there’s no better place to make a gift.”
After Harvard College and Harvard Business School, Markarian went on to run a food cooperative comprised of 5,000 independent retailers and warehouses. He then went to work as a commodities trader for 10 years.
Today, Markarian enjoys traveling with his partner, Vicky, spending time with many nieces and nephews, and regularly attending Harvard events. He keeps in touch with a wide circle of alumni and eagerly anticipates his 65th Reunion. He’s chaired or co-chaired nearly half a dozen and rarely misses the opportunities to reconnect with friends and roommates from Dunster House and Weld Hall.
Says Markarian, “Harvard is all about these continuing relationships and the positive things it brings to my life. There are others that can give more, but nobody contributes with more enthusiasm than I do.”