May 31, 2017
Re: Nomination of Maritza Stapanian (Crabtree) &
Juliette Stapanian (Apkarian) to Receive the
2017 MHS Distinguished Alumni Award
Dear Mariemont High School
Foundation & Alumni Association:
The 50th Year Reunion Committee for the Mariemont High School Class of 1967 is honored and proud to recommend jointly our twin sister classmates from Fairfax to receive the 2017 Mariemont High School’s Most Distinguished Alumni Award.
Defying their humble beginnings and limited resources in their formative years as students in Mariemont schools, Astrophysics PhD & US Air Force Major Maritza Stapanian and her twin sister, Emory University Professor Juliette Stapanian -Apkarian, PhD achieved prominence both domestically and internationally in fields dominated almost exclusively by men at the time, a true testament to the American dream.
Each of these remarkable women possessed an unswerving internal compass and family principles which guided them. Rooted in Christian tenets of Armenia, their country of origin, their parents taught them to always perform and achieve their best, with a genuine concern for others, with integrity, in a humble manner and with no expectation of anything in return. At every step, they set high standards for themselves: the belief in excellence, hard work, persistence, humility and, above all else, an adherence to the highest levels of ethical behavior in every aspect of their academic, professional and personal lives.
Their genuine, all-inclusive perspectives and outsized talents, coupled with their heartfelt and empathetic concerns for co-workers, students and compatriots generated unparalleled appreciation and respect by everyone they encountered. Both sisters routinely demonstrated a willingness to share their unique skills and insights with and to mentor others less experienced. They created their own pathways, persevered and achieved greatly.
Maritza and Juliette Stapanian’s lives exemplified the mission and goals captured by the MHS’s strategic educational plan entitled “Destination 2026”. To paraphrase from the school’s website statements, MHS seeks to educate and guide its students:
‘to develop high self-expectations, drive and resiliency and together with a positive outlook and passion for continuous learning achieve a global perspective and competency which through enhanced communication skills better enables them to work collaboratively in their careers and become deeply committed members of their community and the world. ‘
Maritza Irene Stapanian (Crabtree)
Maritza Stapanian graduated Valedictorian of our MHS 1967 Class. In high school, her quiet, friendly and ever helpful nature led her to participate and lead in many high school activities, not to bolster her college resume but because of personal curiosity and interest.
At the University of Wisconsin, Maritza worked as an undergraduate research assistant to the recently hired Professor William Kraushear, at the university’s new Space Physics Lab in its successful attempt to create a space satellite. She also graduated Phi Beta Kappa. At Dr. Kraushear’s encouragement, Maritza applied and was one of the first few women admitted to the Planetary Science program at the California Institute of Technology (Cal-Tech).
She defended her PhD dissertation thesis: “Induced fission track measurements of carbonaceous chondrite thorium/uranium ratios and thorium micro distributions in allendge inclusions” in spite of the fact that one of its tenets involving the decay rate of Thorium was not consistent with then prevailing scientific opinion. At Cal-Tech she also investigated surface analytics of the composition of the Apollo Program’s lunar samples and pioneered chemical techniques in mapping meteorites to test formulation theories of the solar system. Maritza’s dissertation conclusions have now become widely accepted: that thorium’s rate of decay in space varies over time, instead of being uniform or constant. That variation changes the calculations of gamma wave lengths and, in turn, the time periods for the creation and evolution of individual stars, our Milky Way Galaxy and Solar System.
After receiving her PhD, Maritza chose a career devoted to service, instead of one in academia or more lucrative Silicon Valley pursuits like most of her classmates. She volunteered to join the US Air Force through its Officer Training School as the only PhD recipient in her class. In the Air Force, Maritza overcame challenges of her slight 5’2″ frame, lack of prior strength training, academic/cultural background and through her determination and persistence received the Distinguished Graduate of Squadron Officers’ School award.
Maritza enjoyed an Air Force career with multiple assignments of the highest levels of national security in pioneering President Regan’s endorsed MILSTAR satellite communications and weather defense system and its related Minute Man III missile components.
First USAF Assignment- Minute Man III & Peacekeeper
ICBM Missile Program Developments.
The US Air Force first assigned Maritza in the 1980-81 timeframe to the recently created program for developing our country’s Intercontinental Minute Man III and Peacekeeper Missile system. There, she applied her electromagnetic pulse and astrophysics knowledge to design features of the nuclear warhead carrying ICBM missiles to insure their surviving initial weapon explosions from the Soviet ICMB fleet and then to launch a counter-attack. In 1983, the US announced it deployed an estimated 100 missiles in existing Minute Men silos as a “Show of National Will”.
MILSTAR/Defensive Satellite Communications System.
Maritza was next assigned to the recently created and closely related MILSTAR Satellite program where she designed components and sub-systems of our satellites in order to continue communications to the US on-the-ground ICBM Missile system and its worldwide deployed forces in the face of an initial Russian attack.
Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon:
Design Communication & Navigation Upgrades.
Maritza then moved from California to join the senior ranks of the Air Force’s Studies and Analysis Agency at its overall headquarters in the Pentagon where she conducted a study and modeled necessary changes to upgrade our missile and aircraft communication systems which relied upon navigational/communication systems recently outdated by the FAA’s approval of a new nationwide GPS system.
Developing & Managing Satellite Control System
Sensors for Collecting and Communicating Atmospheric Conditions.
Maritza then returned to California and the Air Force’s Space & Missile Systems Center and Satellite Control Network in El Segundo to develop sensors needed to monitor, collect and transmit cloud cover, precipitation and other atmospheric condition information impacted by electromagnetic and microwave radiometry and critical to our nation’s goal of enabling our joint war fighters to gain and maintain combat superiority. Maritza then became responsible for our nation’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s sensors, its information collection and worldwide communication or distribution.
Over the span of her career, Maritza received numerous Air Force honors or awards, several of which were unusual for her rank as Major.
Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
The Commendation Medal is awarded to Air Force personnel for distinctive meritorious achievement and service, approval of which is made by a higher-ranking officer of Colonel level or higher. Her receiving an Oak Leaf Cluster denotes Maritza’s receiving the award twice.
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Space & Missile System Center
The Meritorious Service Medal, a higher honor than the Commendation Medal, is typically awarded to senior commissioned officers as a decoration for outstanding meritorious achievement and service to the USAF. Over her career, Major Stapanian received three such medals.
Maritza’s keen sense of principle, responsibility and desire to protect others drove her not only to the highly unusual decision at that time to join the military and but also continued after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer led her to scientific research to promote its prevention and early detection for other women. Maritza died of ovarian cancer in Cincinnati on October 14, 2001.
As her 1967 MHS classmates understood and appreciated, Maritza had a great heart and spirit bolstered by equal amounts of integrity and courage. She applied those attributes in her career with exceptional dedication and effort to benefit the country’s defense system and to mentor and inspire others.
Juliette Stapanian – Apkarian
Professor Juliette Stapanian-Apkarian’s life and career journeys include overlapping periods of time and three uniquely different yet intertwined areas of study, expertise and involvements. Both Stapanian twins (and their siblings) have always refrained from speaking about themselves or their accomplishments. Due to Juliette’s confidential efforts to assist Armenia’s secession from the Soviet Union in September, 1991, understanding her career requires a composite piecing together of her entire body of work.
Juliette’s Curriculum Vitae reveals her non-stop in-depth research into the complex interplay of art, literature, music, science and cultural aspects of Russia and its former republic states. Her studies expanded over time to focus specifically upon Eurasian countries adjacent to Russia. Later in her career, Juliette’s expertise coupled with her far-reaching perspective, experiences and international contacts led to the creation of several new international cultural programs at Emory University, including the additions of Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean cultures to Emory’s Global Initiatives & Cultural Studies.
Early Career – Russian & Eurasian Art, Literature & Culture
Juliette’s life journey commenced with extraordinary achievements at MHS followed by a Phi Beta Kappa undergraduate degree and later a PhD in Russian and Slavic Languages Art, Literature and Culture from the University of Wisconsin. As loyal in her dedications as Maritza, Juliette spent her entire post-graduate professional career at Emory University. She became the driving force behind numerous new academic and administrative programs as well as authoring countless academic papers, essays, books and chapters, studies, presentations, translations and reviews.
Her initial academic focus on the visual and verbal interplay of Russian and Eurasian painting, poetry, music, film, science, women’s studies and literature have always remained with her. Chekov, Elena Guro, Kandinsky, Mayakovsky, Pasternak and Rodchencko were some of her favorite individuals to study. Almost as an academic entrepreneur, she conceptualized, organized, obtained grants, scholarships and other funding sources and participated in many related seminars, presentations and caucuses to accelerate her own and other academics’ studies as well. Many universities, in turn, sought out her expertise, analysis and commentary, including the Universities of: Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina, Southern California, Virginia, West Virginia, the colleges of Davidson and Smith, as well as her own Emory University (among others).
Her academic strength and general service to her profession and others was recognized by a number of fellowships, nominations and awards she received, including:
Ford Foundation Fellow (1971-72)
Dean Fellow- Univ. of Wisconsin (1979-80)
Villas Award- Recipient (1979)
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
(at University of Chicago -1983)
Fulbright-Hays International Fellowship (1984-85)
Creekwood Award for Internationalization
(Emory- 2009-2010) for Advancing International
Learning and Relationships
Bunting Institute: Radcliff/Harvard (1983)
George Freedley Book Award (1987)
Thomas Jefferson Award (2009)
(American Institute of Public Service)
Mid-Career- Eurasian, Armenia & Russian Historical Changes
Juliette’s mid-career focus was most important to her on a personal level, including her marriage to Robert P. Apkarian, a world renown scientist in the field of Electron Microcopy and her pursuits of varied academic, cultural and political interests. In significant part, she realigned her academic pursuits from a distant or detached approach to one of intense research and ultimate personal involvement in the Soviet Union’s Glasnost and Perestroika policies of Mikhail Gorbachev and its relations with Armenia, her family’s country of origin.
Between 1986 and 1992, Juliette traveled frequently to Russia and Eurasia, published numerous papers and organized programs concerning those states’ rights and emerging desires to achieve sovereignty. Juliette’s previous Russian studies, her multi-language speaking and writing abilities, and years of travel to the region led to Armenian officials requesting her advice and assistance in negotiating with the Soviet Union. In fact, Juliette was secreted into Armenia in 1991 for that purpose and ultimately became instrumental in Armenia’s successful negotiations with the Soviet Union. On September 19, 1991, Armenian declared its independence from the Soviet Union with no violence or military repercussions.
Following the financial collapse and governmental dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, Juliette continued to prepare papers, organize studies, lecture about and seek solutions for the poor health and living conditions of Armenia and other Eurasian countries, the particular challenges facing Armenia’s efforts to democratize, its March, 1992 membership acceptance by the United Nations, the roles of women in those emerging economies and the overall effect upon their citizens caused by depressed agrarian and financial systems.
The following selections from her Curriculum Vitae show Juliette’s pivotal involvement in the historic developments of Armenia’s peaceful secession from the Soviet Union:
* ” Eyewitness in Armenia” – Washington Post, (Oct. 1988);
* ” Armenia: Reform or Revolution? Nationalism in Eastern
Europe” -Ohio State Univ. Conference (April 15, 1989).
* ” Mass Movements: The Case of Armenia & Azerbaijan”
UNC & UVA (April 27, 1989).
* ” Gorbachev’s Nationalities’ Dilemma: Armenia & Azerbaijan”
Hobart & William Smith Colleges (May 18, 1989).
* ” National Identity and Cultural Survival” for Foreign Press
Juliette Stapanian Invited by Republic of Armenia
from Yerevan, capital of Armenia- (September 1991);
* ” Referendum on Armenian Independence”: A View from America”:
Interview with HAIK from Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia (September 18, 1991) broadcast on ” Armenian National Television”
and “Russian National Television”- (from Juliette’s CV, p 11)
* ” Independence in the USSR; a View of the Smallest Republic”
Lecture Series, October 30, 1991).
* ” Cultural Issues in Multi-National Federal States:
The Hard Lessons of the Soviet Union” as part of Symposium
on New Ethiopian Constitution, May, 1993 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).
* ” The Politics of Science in Former Soviet Union
-AMES International Conference, Dilijan, Armenia (May, 1993).
* ” Ethnic Issues in Russia & Other former Soviet Republics;
with Steven Hurst-CNN Bureau Chief in Moscow (Nov. 1993).
* ” All-Armenian Research Council” with Sinerik Ayrapetyan-
of the Armenian Reporter) (July 1, 2000).
More Recent Career- Emory University’s Global Curriculum Initiatives
Juliette took advantage of the total sum of her earlier studies, experiences and learnings to position Emory University as a prominent university with a strategic international educational focus. She solicited grants from the US Department of Education (Title VI), among other sources, to fund studies, prepare reports, explore candidates for hiring and develop alternative opportunities to expand the “Department of Russian Studies” (which she founded and “chaired” from 1986 through 1996″).
As “Director of Undergraduate Studies” at Emory from 1988-2001 and her leadership of the “Asian Studies Steering and Executive Committees” (1995-2001), Juliette became the intellectual force behind its “Global Initiatives” program including, the university’s broader scoped and newly created “Russian, Eurasian & East Asian Languages and Cultures” department, identified by the acronym “REALC” on its website. In fact, Juliette chaired REALC from 1996-2001 and again from 2005-2008. In addition, her South Korean and China Task Forces (2004-2008) sparked the addition of those languages to the university’s curriculum as well as the creation of Emory University’s “Confucius Institute”. Those efforts and her positive influence on Emory’s very strong academic life continues today with her renewed membership on the university’s Senate Counsel.
The “Select Consultancies” section of Juliette’s Curriculum Vitae (p 12.) shows that even during the period of her advancing Emory’s curriculum, she also was motivated to help pregnant women, children and families obtain medical care in Russia, Armenia and other Caucasus countries through projects sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNESCO, CDS, National Peace Foundation and World Bank.
Juliette was invited to teach Russian and Eurasian related international subjects at the Carter Institute and, as a result, includes former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosslyn among her students. When negotiating Armenia’s secession in 1991 from the former Soviet Union, Juliette met President Mikhail Gorbachev. Her relationship with him led to Mr. Gorbachev’s speech entitled “Global Citizen” as the May 9, 1992 Emory University commencement address. During his trip to the United States he also met with former Presidents Carter and Reagan. In the last decade, a former student of Juliette created an anonymous scholarship for a student interested in pursuing international studies at Emory, with the only requirement being Juliette’s approval and monitoring of its recipient.
Undoubtedly, Mariemont Schools have produced some incredibly talented, educated, well-intentioned and accomplished alumni. However, the depth of each of our Stapanian Classmate’s body of academic, scientific, cultural and philanthropic work, purity of intentions, selfless leadership, humble lifestyle, adherence to the highest ethical principles and goals, and achievements in such a wide variety of career actions sets them apart.
Our Reunion Committee is grateful for having discovered their many career accomplishments and having the opportunity to present them for your consideration as being truly exceptional and distinguished in so many regards and at so many levels.
We believe their legacy as two of Mariemont’s and Fairfax’s finest should be recognized and remembered by this award. Otherwise, their life stories and achievements may be lost or remain unknown to future talented students, some of whom may be wonderstruck over the furthest dimensions of space and science and others of whom may be drawn to the infinite possibilities of art, literature, cultures, and global relationships.
The Committee’s eight members’ own accomplishments and broad ranging life perspectives also give support to the nomination. They include a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, a longtime assistant to the President of Ohio State University, a physician who practiced medicine in California and later oversaw a large medical staff for three GM car plants, a CPA still in active practice, two practicing lawyers, a novelist and medical writing teacher and a real estate developer.
We truly hope Maritza Stapanian Crabtree and Juliette Stapanian-Apkarian will become the 3rd & 4th women graduates of MHS to receive its Most Distinguished Alumni Award.
MHS Class of 1967
50th Reunion Committee
Committee Members in the
order mentioned above:
Mr. Christopher Barnes
Ms. Gemma Spriggs (McLuckie)
Dr. Thomas Schneider
Mrs. Valeri Lamb (Garber)
Mr. Van Oliver
Ms. Sharon Toon (Pentland)
Mr. Jim Patton
Note: We will attach or separately submit a Curriculum Vitae for Juliette and a report by the University of Wisconsin Physics Department in its Spring, 2011 newsletter of a scholarship created in her honor by her husband, USAF Colonel William H. Crabtree. If you have any questions please contact Van Oliver at 214-914-3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org